Get Darren’s Turtle Tutorial and home care tips

May 21, 2023

Did you know that May 23rd is World Turtle Day? A day to celebrate these amazing reptiles just isn’t enough in our opinion, but the team at Molesey Vets’ are taking this opportunity to highlight the care essentials that pet turtles need.

If after reading our article you still have questions, please feel free to contact us for advice or to book a turtle check-up at our East Molesey practice.

Book a turtle check-up

If you’re well researched and prepared, you can give your turtle a home environment they can happily live in for up to 20 years.

Perhaps you are thinking about getting a pet turtle, or you already have one but want to brush up on your turtle parenting skills? Consider this your turtle tutorial from our head vet Darren Partridge.


  1. Firstly, you will need an appropriate terrarium for your turtle, and it’s best not to skimp on size as your pet will need both water and land with plenty of room to explore. Even the smallest turtles should have a terrarium or aquarium/tank no smaller than 29 gallons, 4ft long, 18in wide and 18in tall. Line the bottom with small rocks so they can enjoy digging around.
  2. Clean water is essential as turtles eat and excrete in the same water. You will need a strong filtration system and weekly changes of water at least to prevent a build-up of particles that can lead to infections.
  3. Temperature is vital as turtles are unable to regulate their body temperature internally; do your research to check exactly the level of warmth your type of turtle needs so you can control it in their surroundings. You will need to invest in a basking bulb, water heater, and thermometers for both air and water to ensure those temperatures are maintained.
  4. Turtles need around 12 hours of sun each day as it helps their shells to develop properly; without it they can get metabolic bone disease. However, it’s important not to take them in and out of their tank regularly as this can affect their immune system. Make sure your turtle has an area where they can bask under their heat bulb as well as a UVB/UVA bulb – this bulb should be kept on during the day and turned off at night and should be used alongside calcium supplements.

Diet and health

It depends on the type of turtle you have, of course, but the Park Road team advise that turtles will generally eat insects, fish and dark, leafy greens. You can also buy canned or pelleted turtle food and freeze-dried mealworms. As a general rule, you should only feed your turtle four to five times a week, mimicking the limited amount of food that would be available in the wild, although young turtles should be fed every day. Calcium supplements, as mentioned earlier, are also a good idea.

Finally, be sure to check your turtle regularly for any physical signs of illness. These may include:

  • swollen eyes
  • discolouring on the shell
  • avoiding food

If you notice any of these, do call us on 0208 979 1384 and we will be happy to advise you or book your turtle in for a check-up.

How to take your turtle to the vet

Whether bringing your pet turtle to see one of our vets for an annual health check or if you have any concerns, Darren has some important advice on how to transport them safely:

  1. Turtles should not be transported to the vet in water as they can get tired quickly and drown.
  2. Line a plastic container with damp bedding (paper towels or a soaked towel) and keep them moist to ensure they stay hydrated and to avoid damage to their delicate skin.
  3. Ensure the container is secure – make sure they can’t climb out or pop the lid off.
  4. Ensure it has adequate ventilation – drill holes into the lid or have a mesh section.
  5. Bring a separate sample of water from your turtle’s tank using a clean plastic or glass jar so this can be assessed by the vet.
  6. During the trip, monitor your turtle to ensure they are healthy and safe.

We hope you found Darren’s turtle tutorial helpful. Remember, we’re always happy to assist if you have any questions or want to book a turtle check-up.

Contact us about your turtle

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