Aquatic animals are now gaining popularity among many pet lovers. Among the most common aquatic animals kept at home are the turtles. People tend to adopt different turtle species. Out of the many species, smooth softshell turtles are quite out of the ordinary. Softshell pets can be challenging pets to keep especially if you are a beginner. If you have recently purchased or are thinking of getting a young softshell turtle, adequate knowledge and lots of research will give this young one a conducive home. This article has everything you need to know about smooth softshell turtles to spare you all the research.
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Where do smooth softshell turtles live?
Smooth softshell turtles are fast swimmers. Therefore, spend a good part of their life in freshwater. However, small or big, the water body is, these turtles will thrive. They tend to bury themselves in mud or sand whenever they do not want any disturbance. When keeping them as pets, they require an aquarium well equipped with sandbars for basking purposes and an area where they can lay their eggs.
Why are softshell turtles soft?
Softshell turtles tend to have quite a different shell compared to other turtle species with a spiny and hard bony shell. Its shell is more of leather-like material with a fairly smooth surface. This smoothness arises from its upper body comprising just a thick skin and just a few bones at the center. The thick skin protects these little animals from predators, though it is not as effective as a hard shell.
Smooth softshell turtle care
Care for smooth softshell turtles in many forms. Here, we need to know their conducive habitat, diet, and general physical health.
Smooth softshell turtle’s habitat
A large tank, probably one that holds 80 to100 gallons of water, is a suitable habitat for a smooth softshell turtle. Different softshell turtles have different sizes, and the one you choose will dictate the tank’s size. With a 2 feet long turtle that can weigh up to 400 pounds, it requires a large swimming space.
The water should be regularly changed to ensure that it is always clean and ensure that the tank has a smooth surface or not sharp objects lay in the tank that could cause injuries and wounds to the turtle shell. Ensure you have a filtration system to help get out the dirt, which would be left to accumulate would cause infections to your pet.
Besides, the turtles love to bask. Have a piece of wood or other floating material in the tank for that purpose. During cold seasons when basking is not possible, you will require a heat source for your pet. Smooth softshell turtles will thrive in a habitat with approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit. You could use water heaters or a basking lamp to maintain optimal temperatures. It is also ideal to have aquatic plants and other barriers to keep the habitat lively.
Smooth softshell turtle diet
Softshell titles are carnivorous and will feed on small fish, aquatic insects, eggs and amphibians, in the wild. As pets, an adequate supply of turtle pellets, small fish, worms, crickets, and other feeds will keep your turtle healthy. Ensure that you gradually increase the amount of food you give them as they grow. For adults or large turtles, mice and frogs also count as meals. Although you should contact a specialist on the quantity and feeding times for your turtle, feeding them once with a meal that they can consume in fifteen minutes is enough.
Smooth softshell health issues
Compared to other turtle pets, softshell turtles are susceptible to injuries and wound because of their soft shells. Also, fungal and bacterial infections and intestinal parasites are among the most typical health issues. Because of this vulnerability, once or twice a year checkup with a specialist is advisable. Ensure they get checked for parasites, the entire immune system, and general physical health. Besides the veterinary exam, ensure that the tank is set up appropriately and that quality conditions are maintained in the tank.
Softshell turtles are active animals and fast swimmers. Hence, any change in this behavior, like being calm and bored for a day or two, should trigger them to get checked. Also, a change in appetite and sores on the shell are signs that your turtle is unwell.
How big do smooth softshell turtles get?
A female smooth softshell turtle grows to be bigger than the male. While the female turtle could grow up to 14 inches, the male turtle can only get half that size. Therefore, when you pick a female softshell turtle, proper planning is required, especially for its habitat.
Smooth softshell turtle breeding
The breeding time for these turtles is from May to July. During this time, the female will spend most of their time on the shores away digging nests in the sand. They will then lay eggs in bunches. Most of these eggs end up being eaten by other animals. It takes two months for the eggs to be hatched. This means between August and September.
Smooth softshell turtle eggs
Smooth softshell turtle lay brittle eggs, and probably why carnivorous animals like to feed on them. The eggs take the shape of ping pong balls
Do smooth softshell turtles bite?
Smooth softshell turtles are fearful in nature, maybe since they a common prey for alligators. Therefore, to protect themselves from danger or be captured, softshell turtles will bite when necessary or swim fast when in water. Although this is common in those that live in the wild, pet turtles will also bite, especially when mishandled. For this reason, do not leave your smooth softshell turtle pet with your kids. Bites from young turtles will have some minor effect and will probably heal by themselves. However, adult turtle bites can cause severe injury, and hence caution should be taken when around them.
Animals have different temperaments and behavior. Some will be nice, calm, and friendly, while others will not nicely take humans’ presence. When purchasing your turtle pet, ensure you choose a calm one.
Are softshell turtles dangerous?
Because of their softshell, these turtle species are vulnerable to predators and thereby can be aggressive in nature. Keeping two or more softshell turtles in the same tank is not recommended. They will attack each other with their sharp and strong claws and jaws. These can do severe harm to their bodies. They do not like to be handled and will not hesitate to bite or attack eve humans when they feel threatened.
Do softshell turtles need sand?
In the natural habitat, these animals love to spend time under sand or mud. As pets, have some clean sand at the bottom of the tank to not be deprived of playing sand. Ensure that the sand used is not harsh to prevent injuries on their bodies.
While people are now adopting smooth softshell turtles as pets, they are definitely recommended for beginners or families with children or other pets like dogs or cats. Softshell turtles have a high maintenance, and therefore proper planning is needed before bringing him home.