Terrapin Safety

Terrapins are soft and delicate creatures. Hence, you should take utmost care when handling them.

Taking care of terrapins is relatively straightforward, but terrapin owners should always have both the animal’s safety and their own in mind.

It is easy to take care of a terrapin as long as you follow some simple safety rules. Terrapins can get stressed and become aggressive with a careless owner or in the presence of other terrapins. Also, they may look small and defenceless, but their jaws can be powerful and their bite hurts.

It is also possible for terrapins to pass on diseases to their owners. Even though this is pretty rare, terrapin owners should keep up with some simple hygiene rules like washing their hands after handling a terrapin.

Like any other pet, terrapins deserve a clean, happy environment where they live and thrive. Here is a simple guideline for terrapin safety.

Terrapin safety

Arrange a Terapinarium (Vivarium)

Terrapins like to live on land and in brackish water. You must have a terrapinarium for your terrapin well-being. Water should be clean and deep enough so that the terrapin can swim. Its temperature should be hovering around 26 to 28 degrees Celsius because that’s the natural temperature terrapins like.

CIANO : Turtle Aquarium: Glass, 34.4L
181 Reviews
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.

Never use bleach or strong chemicals

Terrapins are fragile and bleached water can harm them. You should clean the terrapinarium with terrapin-safe detergents. You can also use a water conditioner to ensure that the water is perfect for your shelled friend.

Zoo Med WC-4 Repti Safe, 125 ml
1,620 Reviews
Zoo Med WC-4 Repti Safe, 125 ml
  • water treatment
  • reptiles, turtle, lizard, arachnids
  • Water conditioner

Terrapins will defecate in the water. You should have a filter to clean the water and renew half of the tank water once every 10 days.

Fluval Mini Underwater Filter, 200 Litre Per Hour
597 Reviews
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.

Hold terrapins gently

While picking up a terrapin, hold it from its side over a platform to avoid dropping it on the floor. Don’t shake it strongly and avoid rolling over very quickly as it can make the terrapin dizzy and stressed.

Terrapin maintenance

Keep the water and the terrapinarium temperature steady, neither too hot nor too cold. You should install UV lights if there is not enough natural light hitting the tank.

Arcadia D3+ Euro Range 10 Percent Desert Reptile Light, 600 mm
265 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

Just like any other animal, terrapins like clean environments. You should give your terrapin the right diet with plenty of calcium which builds and solidifies its shell.

Zoo Med MD-11E Dr Turtle Calcium Block
1,400 Reviews
Zoo Med MD-11E Dr Turtle Calcium Block
  • A slow release calcium block that conditions water
  • Providing a calcium supplement to promote healthy shell growth for aquatic turtles
  • For using it, simply place in your turtles water supply

When it comes to choosing the best food for terrapins, a balanced diet of protein, vegetables, and fruit is optimal. You can also find some great food mixes that are specially formulated for terrapins.

Supa Turtle & Terrapins Food Superior Mix 1 Litre Bucket | Made Using Premium Quality Natural Ingredients
1,033 Reviews
Supa Turtle & Terrapins Food Superior Mix 1 Litre Bucket | Made Using Premium Quality Natural Ingredients
  • Supa Turtle Food 1 Litre (Pack of 1) is a nutritionally balanced and delicious turtle food.
  • Best fed as a complementary food in conjunction with freshly prepared foods.
  • The Turtle Food contains only the highest quality natural ingredients: River Shrimp, Shrimp Flakes, Gammarus & Freeze Dried Tubifex.

If you go on holidays

If you plan holidays or will be away for some time, have a person take care of your terrapin and show them how to clean and feed your terrapin. A terrapin needs to be fed at least every two days, so you need someone to feed your terrapin and clean the water.

Terrapins and other pets

If you have other pets, such as cats, dogs, or birds, take care not to leave the terrapin unattended with your other pets. They might feel that your terrapin is a tasty snack!

Ill terrapins

If you have several terrapins and one of them is displaying signs of disease, separate it immediately from the healthy ones until you can take it to a veterinary doctor who will assist your pet and recommend a cure.

Don’t let sick terrapins hibernate

Terrapins hibernate in the wild when autumn temperatures fall. In captivity, however, it is up to you whether you will let your terrapin hibernate. By manipulating the ambient temperature you can slowly drive your terrapin to hibernation, while warm waters can prevent hibernation altogether.

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)
1,719 Reviews
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.
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A sick terrapin will not make it through hibernation. For terrapins to hibernate successfully, they need to have stored fat and nutrients in their bodies. A sick animal can’t sustain a period of fasting.

Don’t clip the claws of male terrapins

You should never clip the long claws of your male terrapin, as males use their claws to woo females during courtship when they are in their natural environment.

Consult your veterinary doctor

Always consult a veterinary doctor whenever your terrapin shows any change of behaviour. If your terrapin loses its appetite or its vigour and isn’t as active as it used to be, it is best to check with a vet.

Safety for the handler

Wash your hands after handling your terrapin

Like other reptiles, terrapins can also carry microorganisms like Salmonella. They may get transmitted to humans due to careless handling and cause Salmonellosis. We suggest you use gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with a mild disinfectant after every contact with the terrapin or the water in the tank.

Children shouldn’t handle terrapins

Children can be clumsy and careless, especially when they are toddlers. Although terrapins look cute, they are also fragile. It is best to monitor your children when they handle a terrapin and, ideally, let the adult handle it.

Children may turn the terrapin around and squeeze it because they can’t fathom how fragile these animals are. Sadly, any abrupt moves can hurt your terrapin and cause internal damage. Also, if a terrapin gets stressed, it can bite. Remember that terrapins have powerful jaws—a fact we often overlook because they are so tiny.

Be careful with the tank water

Terrapins defecate in the water in their tank. No matter the amount and the frequency of filtering, the water will not be bacteria-free.

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Therefore, you should not let the tank water come in contact with any household items, especially in the kitchen. The water could contaminate kitchen utensils and food and could cause illness to you and your family.

After washing the tank thoroughly, clean the area where you washed the tank with disinfectant before you use it for your family and household. That is how you make sure that all food and utensils won’t get infected by any traces of terrapin bacteria.

Handle terrapins carefully

The thing to always remember when handling terrapins is that they are fragile creatures. Their shell may seem hard but it can’t take any hard knockings. So, treat them with the care are respect they deserve and be there to protect them and care for them!

For more terrapin safety tips, check out my terrapin care book review and subscribe and DOWNLOAD The Complete Turtle & Terrapin Guide Book:

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