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Beginner Tips (for New Hatchlings)

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Most new RES owners acquire a hatchling. If your turtle is a hatchling, then this period is very delicate and thus, more emphasis should be placed on its eating, comfort and safety levels. Hatchlings are very fragile, have a high mortality rate and many do not make it past this point. They are more susceptible to illnesses and can even die without an apparent reason - though good care will greatly increase survivability rates. A slider’s tank should be ready before it’s placed in there.

If you notice something on the turtle’s plastron, it may be the yolk sac. The hatchling may still be absorbing nutrients and it should not be removed or disturbed. Your turtle may refuse to eat during this time, although you should be prepared to offer food once the yolk sac is completely absorbed.

Remember to avoid excessively handling a new RES. They may be very cute and irresistible but they are also fragile and may feel very uncomfortable, frightened and stressed. Don’t constantly stand over them and tap on the glass to get their attention. Give them space and several days to adjust but make sure they do get food everyday and that water is clean. Water and basking temperatures need to remain consistent.

The tank or tub must not be in direct sunlight or near a window. Avoid keeping them near air conditioners and drafts. Make sure there is easy access to a basking platform and that UVA rays, UVB rays and a basking lamp are available. Temperatures, which should be slightly warmer for hatchlings, should be 80F (26.6C) for water, 90F (32.2C) for the basking area. Water should be clean as possible and should be changed every couple of days if there is no adequate filtration. The main diet should consist of a reputable brand of calcium-fortified pellets. Please refer to the New RES Guide and pricing guide for more detailed information. Remember, most illnesses and injuries are preventable with proper living conditions. As mentioned earlier, do not mix hatchlings with adults or any other turtle greater in size.

Handling
Information clipped from Basic Care / Handling

Great care should be taken when handling RES. They may be slippery due to their aquatic habitat, resist being held, vocally hiss and empty their bowels. They have sharp claws, strong limbs and a strong bite that can add difficulty during handling. It is recommended that you apply both hands when picking up, moving and holding a slider. Support them beneath their arms, legs and body to provide a more secure and comfortable feeling. The rapid moving of limbs in the air is an indication of stress and should be minimized. Using both hands also provides extra assurance against accidents and falls.

Hands should be clean before handling and washed after handling RES and their environment. This is especially important for children, the sick and for those who handle food or other pets. A liquid soap dispenser is fairly convenient for this purpose. Areas that come into contact with your RES should be kept clean and sanitized. Keeping your turtle environment and feeding material in the best possible condition goes a long way in the minimization of bacteria and salmonella contamination.
Comment: Any pet should be absolutely restricted from a kitchen or any food preparation area. Avoid using the kitchen sink when cleaning your RES and its items. I would also refrain from using a bathtub or bathroom sink. If you do utilize these areas, make certain they are properly disinfected and sanitized after use.
Anyone who might handle your turtle should be notified of the proper ways to do so. Improper handling can cause distress, which may cause the turtle to release salmonella. It is not recommended for children to handle or take care of turtles. Turtles are not necessarily a “hold and pet” kind of animal and it is important that children understand that. They should always be supervised when around the turtle and they can be taught a great lesson in responsibility.

Related Topics: Salmonella (and other health risks to you)

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This page updated: 2011/01/28 Copyright © 2005-2011 Red Ear Slider. All rights reserved.