Terrapin Homes

Tips for providing your terrapin with a perfect home

Terrapins need a tank with water to survive. Their natural habitat is brackish water and marshes where they have access both to land and water. Brackish water is water that is saltier than freshwater but not as salty as sea water.

To help your terrapin thrive and grow you should make sure the tank is big, warm, and clean. You need to provide a water area and a land area because terrapins are marine and terrestrial creatures. They like to swim but also to bask in the heat.

Choose the right-sized terrapinarium

Unlike many other aquatic animals, terrapins live much longer and need special care. They are expected to live between 20 and 40 years, which means you have to care for their well-being far ahead in the future.

The most important accessory for your terrapin is the terrapinarium, which is a transparent water container made of glass.

You can’t fill up the tank to the brim with water, as terrapins can actually drown. You should put enough water for the terrapin to be able to swim. An easy rule to remember is that the water should be 1.5 times the length of the terrapin. As your terrapin grows bigger, you can increase the amount of water in the tank.

The tank should be roomy and the size should be bigger than a normal fish aquarium as terrapins grow at a high speed. Initially, the normal size of a terrapinarium for a pair of baby terrapins, can be 18” x 12” x 4”. The general rule of thumb is to measure approximately 37 litres of water per inch of terrapin shell. As they grow bigger, you will need to invest in a bigger tank where your terrapin will have plenty of space to swim and explore.

CIANO : Turtle Aquarium: Glass, 34.4L
  • Tartarium 60 Turtle Terrapin Reptile Glass Tank with Ramp
  • The tartarium 60, terrarium glass, is equipped with supports and dry zone in high quality white plastic with high gloss finish and a clear plastic lid for the rest of your turtle and for optimal exposure to heat, essential to their well-being and growth. Plastic supports; Plastic RAMP; Lid with clear plastic to prevent the turtle jump. Lid above ramp only, full lid not included or supplied.
  • Aquarium Dimensions L60 x W29.6x H19.5 cm RAMP Dimensions L22.5 x W13 x H15.7 cm Black on ramp & decor is for illustration purposes only.

Remember that if you have two terrapins, the tank should be bigger to allow enough personal space for each of them. That’s because terrapins can actually become quite territorial. When together in a tank, they should have space for each other without entering their sibling’s personal territory.

Terrapins like warm temperatures

Terrapins originate from the Gulf of Mexico where water temperatures are balmy and pleasant. They require the same water conditions in captivity.

In cold water, terrapins become sluggish and they can go into hibernation. If you want your terrapin to be lively and active, you must heat the water in the aquarium. You should get an aquarium heater with a thermostat to maintain the temperature between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (23.8 to 26.6 degrees Celsius). This can keep them happy and playful.

For better safety, it’s better to keep two heaters to use alternately.

HITOP Adjustable Aquarium Heater with Protective Cover, 30W 50W 120W Turtle and Fish Tank Heater for 5L to 120L Fresh Water and Seawater water Thermostat (50W)
  • Safe and Durable: We adopt 2mm thickened explosion-proof glass, 33% thicker than normal aquarium heaters, more durable, much safer for both human and animals.
  • Double protection: Protective cover wrapping the heater tube, and the triangular streamline design of this fish tank heater is full of modern sense, achieving both safety and space-saving, and looks beautiful in your aquarium.
  • Easy to Set Temperature: After set the temp you want, due to the automatic switch device and temperature detection system, this aquarium heater will turn off automatically when its temp reaches your pre-set, also will turn on when lower than it, safe and easy adjustment.

Provide a sunbathing space

Terrapins often come out of the water to get themselves dry or to sunbathe. They need an easy-to-climb and elevated dry place such as an island of flat stone or rock which they can access when outside of the water. Terrapins will likely enjoy staying there for some time in moderate sunlight or in the shade—but not directly under the sun, as it can get too hot for them.

LFS Turtle Bank Turtle Floating Basking Platform Dock Terrapin Basking Tray
  • 🐢 New turtle bank floating basking platform (24 x 20 cm)
  • 🐢 Suitable for small size turtles, salamanders, ceratophrys, terrapins and other aquatic pets
  • 🐢 Platform with inclined ramp provides your pet rest, playing and feeding

Give them artificial sunlight

In the wild, natural sunlight gives terrapin essential Vitamin D, which they need to strengthen their shell. The absence of UV light causes blindness or deformity of the shell.

UV-B and UV-A combined in a very small amount can be provided by a reptile fluorescent lamp. This is particularly recommended in colder regions that get less sunlight. Some of these lamps may be costly but they will keep the terrapins healthy and save a lot of money on doctor’s expenses in the long run.

Arcadia D3+ Euro Range 10 Percent Desert Reptile Light, 600 mm
266 Reviews
Arcadia D3+ Euro Range 10 Percent Desert Reptile Light, 600 mm
  • Balanced uva to uvb ratio
  • Typically x3 more usable uvb than most lamps
  • Excellent colour emissions

As a reminder, in the United Kingdom terrapins shouldn’t be left in the wild or even outside in the garden to take in the sunshine. Since 2016, terrapins have been categorized as an invasive species and there are special precautions that terrapin owners have to take into consideration. As a result, you can’t let your terrapin in a non-enclosed area, even if it’s in your garden, because it risks escaping and finding its way into the wild.

Terrapins like clean water

Your terrapinarium should be fitted with a water filter that will clean the water from food residue and droppings. Avoid filters with a waterfall effect as terrapins prefer still waters.

Fluval Mini Underwater Filter, 200 Litre Per Hour
  • Fluval U Mini Underwater Filter provides simple yet efficient filtration that helps create excellent aquarium water quality.
  • The filter's small size makes it ideal for application in small fresh or tropical aquariums up to 45 L.
  • The filter's small size makes it ideal for application in small fresh or tropical aquariums up to 45 L.

Aside from the filter, you should make sure the water stays clean by cleaning the tank and renewing the water regularly. A water filter alone can’t fully clean the terrapinarium. Regular water replacement and manual removal of solid wastes with a siphon or a net is essential as the droppings and leftover foods can make it foul and smelly. This problem gets worse as the terrapins grow bigger and eat more terrapin food.

Dirty water is not just unpleasant to look at. It can also cause severe infection and sores inside your terrapin’s mouth, eyes, and other parts of the body. Terrapins can get sick from water that has been filtered and cleaned properly.

If your filter has failed or you have forgotten to clean your aquarium’s water in a while, your terrapin might display signs of ill health. In such cases, the terrapin should be taken to the veterinarian immediately before the condition deteriorates beyond cure. It is advised to keep an infected terrapin separated from the rest to minimize the risk of contagion.

Terrapins are playful

Terrapins are curious, playful, and love to be challenged. After all, their natural habitat is not just made of sand and water but it also contains plants, rocks, and shells. Ideally, your tank should try to mimic these conditions and make your terrapin want to explore it. It’s good for them because they get active and keep their minds active.

PietyPet Terrarium Reptile Plants, Reptile Hanging Plant Vines Artificial Leaves Reptile Hide, Leopard Gecko Tank Accessories, Terrarium Decorations for Bearded Dragon Lizard Snake Geckos
  • Reptile Terrarium Decorations include: 2 x Jungle Reptile Vine with leaves, 2 x large Plastic Hanging Leaves vine, 2 x mini Hanging Ivy Plants, 6 x suction cups. Perfect for reptile habitat decorations, terrarium hanging, snake terrarium decorations.
  • Easy to install: Use the included strong suction cups to secure the lightweight artificial greenery to the walls of your fish tank or turtle habitat, works wonderfully in any aquatic,even with the snakes crawling over them; it also works when used creatively in home decor and anywhere you want a touch of naturalness.
  • Safe material: The Terrarium rattan greenery leaves were made from environmentally non-toxic plastic and the stems were made from iron wire. safe and durable,The willow vine is completely flexible with many shoots coming off the main vine,it creates a dynamic environment with fun hiding spots and exciting obstacles.

You can add rocks, plants, shells, obstacles, fake grasses, small ceramic pots, and other decorations to entice your terrapins to swim around and discover their tank. You can even install a tunnel where they can hide to add interest to their surroundings.

Vibury Aquarium Decoration Plants with Rockery View, 13pcs Green Aquarium Plants Plastic and Aquarium Mountain Reef Rock Cave Resin Fish Tank Ornament Decoration
  • This set would fit 5 - 15 gallon aquarium nicely. These set have different colors: green, red, purple. All the colors are vibrant and vivid, even in the water, thus can beautify your aquarium.
  • Including: 1 pieces Mountain View Aquarium Ornament and 12 Pieces assorted heights green plastic aquarium plants. Unlike live plants, artificial plants don't need specialized lighting or fertilizer.
  • Non-toxic Material: plastic, resin and ceramic base; It is ideal for both fresh and salt water, do not affect the PH in the tank and related aquarium conditions.

For more terrapin homing tips check out my terrapin guide review or subscribe and DOWNLOAD The Complete Turtle & Terrapin Guide Book:

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