1. What are terrapins?
Terrapins are cold-blooded and oldest among all living reptiles (evolved around 215 million years). They need both water and land to survive.
2. Where can I get a terrapin?
Terrapin hatchlings are available in the stores selling aquatic animals or reptiles.
3. Do they have teeth?
No, they don’t. But they use their tough, horny and sharp edged jaws to bite and tear up the food.
4. Can they See, smell or hear?
Terrapins generally cannot hear. In contrast, their sight and sense of smell is quite good which they use to find and catch food.
5. How do they breathe?
Terrapins breathe by lungs. While breathing on land, the lungs contract or expand to suck and push out air by the help of two muscles placed towards the front and two in the flanks.
But in water, they inhale by the inner lining of their throat and exhale through two pouches near the cloaca. They can stay underwater for long, but resurface from time to time.
6. How does temperature effect on hatchlings?
Low temperature in some species causes hatching of male terrapins while higher temperature of the nest gives rise to more number of female terrapins.
7. How long do they live?
Normally terrapins can survive more than 30 years. But in captivity the health and life span depends upon the careful handling by the owner. Improper husbandry can reduces their longevity.
8. What do they eat?
Terrapins are carnivores in wild, but in captivity they behave like omnivores. Along with meat, fish, insects, frogs, worms, snails etc., they eat leafy vegetables (lettuce) and various fresh fruits also when offered. Commercial food with various nutritional supplements and a variety of diet should also be given to them to avoid different deficiency disorders.
10. What is the ideal size of a terrapin tank?
A pair of hatchling needs a water tank (terrapinarium) measuring 18 12 4 inches while two 4 inch long terrapin needs a tank of 24 12 12 inches. As they grow in size, the tank size should also be increased for their free movement. Avoid over crowding as terrapins can attack each other.
13. Is it safe to have a terrapin as a pet?
It IS, but handle them carefully to avoid infections and bites.
14. Does a terrapin shed its shell/skin?
Yes. Terrapins regularly shed the scutes (plates) of their shell and their scaly skin.