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Keeping a turtle as a pet has come a long way from the plastic palm tree set-ups of old. From the common box turtle to the less-common Ornate Wood Turtle to the extremely rare albino soft shell, there’s a turtle for every lifestyle, budget, and personality. Turtles make fascinating, peaceful pets, but their penchant for longevity means you must be prepared to devote as many as thirty or forty years of care and attention to your new reptilian friend. If you’re ready to share your heart and home with one of nature’s most ancient and mysterious creatures, then read on for some great pet turtle care advice.

The type of care your turtle will require depends, for the most part, on the type of turtle you plan on getting. While you will certainly want to learn as much as you can about the specific breed of turtle you select, there are some basic rules that apply to pet turtle care, and these rules are different for the two main categories of turtles-water turtles and land turtles. To ensure your turtle’s long life and happiness, you should strive to give him a comfortable, home-like environment. For water turtles (such as sliders, coots, and map turtles) this means providing at least 20 gallons of tank space complete with a small “island” for basking, a heat lamp for simulating sunlight, and a UVB light to help the turtle absorb maximum nutrients from his food. Water turtles are graceful, speedy swimmers, so the more swimming room they have, the better! Land turtles (such as box turtles) require plenty of room to roam with hollowed logs or flowerpots to hide in, natural vegetation, a basking area with a heat lamp, and a shallow dish of water for soaking. Many people choose to keep their land turtles outside in specially designed pens. This enables the turtles to not only enjoy the great outdoors, but to hibernate in the winter just as they would in the wild.

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