My turtle gets frights easily and won't bask.

crazyanimalperson

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My juvenile reeves turtle has settled in well and is quite comfortable with me to the point where I hand feed him using tweezers. But when it comes to basking, I am very worried that he just isn't getting the required amount of basking time that he needs. I am home with him in the same room all day, so I am always aware of what he is up to. He only comes out when it is very, very quiet and then someone else will come in, or my budgie will chirp, or I'll get up to grab something and suddenly he plops right back into the water. This gives him maybe a maximum of 3-5 minutes out of the water and then it will be ages before he tries again with the same result. I think he probably comes out to bask when I leave the house but if he does it will only be once or twice a week at the most.
Then I was at the pet store the other day and noticed that they had baby reeves turtles, but they were basking and were not the slightest bit bothered with me coming over to see them or talking to them. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, I moved the basking dock to the back of the tank instead of the front just in case he felt exposed. My tank doesn't have a lid, does that make a difference?
 

ZenHerper

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Hard to say.

Diving for water is hard-wired. A lone turtle is evolutionarily more exposed than a stack (where being motionless as part of a group is safer than springing out into the air/water...until the last second).

These guys are primarily aquatic as youngsters, so are perfectly comfortable in the water. If your basking spot is too hot or too intense (halogen or mercury vapor bulb, for example), then it is less attractive than the water, and even painful.

Certain uvb radiation bulbs are known to burn the corneas, and will make captive reptiles avoid open lighted spaces in general.

Do you have a land portion, or land feature? Do you have plants and/or other types of cover?

What is your water temperature? What is the basking spot temperature? What is the general ambient temp in the habitat?

What type(s) of heat and light bulbs are you using?

Post some clear photos of your set up for the most helpful feedback.
 

crazyanimalperson

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Hard to say.

Diving for water is hard-wired. A lone turtle is evolutionarily more exposed than a stack (where being motionless as part of a group is safer than springing out into the air/water...until the last second).

These guys are primarily aquatic as youngsters, so are perfectly comfortable in the water. If your basking spot is too hot or too intense (halogen or mercury vapor bulb, for example), then it is less attractive than the water, and even painful.

Certain uvb radiation bulbs are known to burn the corneas, and will make captive reptiles avoid open lighted spaces in general.

Do you have a land portion, or land feature? Do you have plants and/or other types of cover?

What is your water temperature? What is the basking spot temperature? What is the general ambient temp in the habitat?

What type(s) of heat and light bulbs are you using?

Post some clear photos of your set up for the most helpful feedback.
I have a floating dock positioned on some rocks, I'm planning to upgrade to a land area as he get's older. The water temperature is around 26 degrees Celsius, the basking temperature is around 30 degrees Celsius and he has one UV/UVA Bulb Halogen lamp and one ceramic heat emitter. He also has plastic plants. I also monitor the temperature to make sure it's not too hot.

IMG_20210511_122558.jpg IMG_20210511_122604.jpg
I will also be upgrading to a bigger aquarium later on. :)

Edit: There's no filter yet because I couldn't find one small enough to be submerged in shallow water but he gets a full water change every day.
 

ZenHerper

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So cute!

I would add more cover...these wee ones spend most of their time in the wild in water that is darkened by the natural ground color, and surrounded by plants, grasses, shrubs, etc.. He does not blend in very well with the light color of the dock and the enclosure bottom (easier to clean, I get that!). Consider floating plants to ameliorate the white effect of the plastic.

I'm also concerned that the halogen is preventing him from spending too much time above the water line. Halogen emits a lot of IR-A radiation that is super-desiccating for the shell, skin, and eyes. The uv radiation may likewise be concentrated into a narrow beam (like a laser) that is burning the eyes. Any of the newer 'compact' bulbs cause issues.

It may be hard in NZ to find a standard incandescent bulb, so you may have to choose one made for reptiles. Such as:

If you want to supplement uvb radiation (most turtle foods are reliably fortified with calcium and vitamin D3), opt for the old-style long tube -- they are proving to be the most reliable in output and safest in terms of radiation exposure:

Alternatively, you can take him outside in a pan every day for 15 minutes of natural sunlight. Then you really only need the water heater, a CHE, and an LED for ambient light.
 

crazyanimalperson

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So cute!

I would add more cover...these wee ones spend most of their time in the wild in water that is darkened by the natural ground color, and surrounded by plants, grasses, shrubs, etc.. He does not blend in very well with the light color of the dock and the enclosure bottom (easier to clean, I get that!). Consider floating plants to ameliorate the white effect of the plastic.

I'm also concerned that the halogen is preventing him from spending too much time above the water line. Halogen emits a lot of IR-A radiation that is super-desiccating for the shell, skin, and eyes. The uv radiation may likewise be concentrated into a narrow beam (like a laser) that is burning the eyes. Any of the newer 'compact' bulbs cause issues.

It may be hard in NZ to find a standard incandescent bulb, so you may have to choose one made for reptiles. Such as:

If you want to supplement uvb radiation (most turtle foods are reliably fortified with calcium and vitamin D3), opt for the old-style long tube -- they are proving to be the most reliable in output and safest in terms of radiation exposure:

Alternatively, you can take him outside in a pan every day for 15 minutes of natural sunlight. Then you really only need the water heater, a CHE, and an LED for ambient light.

I will definitely add more rocks, caves and plants. I would like to add real plants instead of fake ones but I'm guessing he will just rip them up? I would like to build him a land area as well but I'm not sure yet how to do this without getting soil into the water.

Is this the bulb you had in mind? I use it for my frogs and they are doing really well on it. I feel really bad because I didn't realize that about the halogen bulbs. I'll take it out straight away.
I would like to take him outside for some natural light and a change of scene. Unfortunately we've just hit winter over here in NZ and it's pouring with rain outside!
 

ZenHerper

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I will definitely add more rocks, caves and plants. I would like to add real plants instead of fake ones but I'm guessing he will just rip them up? I would like to build him a land area as well but I'm not sure yet how to do this without getting soil into the water.

Is this the bulb you had in mind? I use it for my frogs and they are doing really well on it. I feel really bad because I didn't realize that about the halogen bulbs. I'll take it out straight away.
I would like to take him outside for some natural light and a change of scene. Unfortunately we've just hit winter over here in NZ and it's pouring with rain outside!
Halogen seemed like a great idea for small habitats! But then the drawbacks starting showing up. Facts are up against a giant marketing machine, unfortunately. Halogen works really well for turtle species that spend their lives at the bottom, but baskers/terrestrials run into trouble.

The ExoTerra bulb you linked is a compact coil -- same laser beam problem as the halogen as the coil keeps all the radiation in a narrow beam.

You want a long tube that spreads the uvb radiation across a wider area, such as:

There will always be a bit of mess with turtles. So basically, you get another pan that fits inside your primary bin. Terrestrial turtles like moist coco coir mixed with fir bark chips. A potted spider plant set into a corner (they will upturn things planted in the substrate), and another flower pot on its side make nice hiding spots. You can use an aquarium vacuum to stretch the time between total clear outs:

Aquatic turtles do rip up plants. Floating sorts help give some shade to the habitat floor, but avoid the need for a lot of re-landscaping.
Water lettuce
Amazon frogbit

Both need some root trimming, but are edible and do well enough indoors.
 

crazyanimalperson

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Halogen seemed like a great idea for small habitats! But then the drawbacks starting showing up. Facts are up against a giant marketing machine, unfortunately. Halogen works really well for turtle species that spend their lives at the bottom, but baskers/terrestrials run into trouble.

The ExoTerra bulb you linked is a compact coil -- same laser beam problem as the halogen as the coil keeps all the radiation in a narrow beam.

You want a long tube that spreads the uvb radiation across a wider area, such as:

There will always be a bit of mess with turtles. So basically, you get another pan that fits inside your primary bin. Terrestrial turtles like moist coco coir mixed with fir bark chips. A potted spider plant set into a corner (they will upturn things planted in the substrate), and another flower pot on its side make nice hiding spots. You can use an aquarium vacuum to stretch the time between total clear outs:

Aquatic turtles do rip up plants. Floating sorts help give some shade to the habitat floor, but avoid the need for a lot of re-landscaping.
Water lettuce
Amazon frogbit

Both need some root trimming, but are edible and do well enough indoors.
Ah I see, I guess that means I'd better change the frogs bulb too 😬 That bulb looks like it would need a different socket then the one I have? Something like this?
Thanks heaps for your help guys 😀 I'll get onto making those changes asap.
 

ZenHerper

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Ah I see, I guess that means I'd better change the frogs bulb too 😬 That bulb looks like it would need a different socket then the one I have? Something like this?
Thanks heaps for your help guys 😀 I'll get onto making those changes asap.
Yes - the bulbs and hoods come different lengths, so get a set that matches! lol

All critters are affected by the wrong concentration of uvb radiation. Read the information with the new bulb carefully - the tube has to be placed at a proper distance in order to be effective and safe.

I think frogs are similar to turtles...if their diet contains the proper amounts of calcium and vitamin D3, they need minimal uvb supplementation.
 

jeff kushner

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I think our friends in NZ was all 277Volt so Amazon here will show few options.

The guys here have given you some great advice and good for you for asking! It shows you are taking the lead to provide your guy with a nice home.

I kept water turtles, usually 15-20 in multiple 55gal tanks..........for decades but all my info is opinion only....I'm new here too! LOL

Temps.....I always liked lower H20 temps while having warmer basking for a couple of reasons....you have 26C=79F, maybe drop it further to 74F=23/24C..... and the lower water temps not only will drive him up to bask and warm up but it keeps down the green bacteria that you will begin to see as you turn it from a plastic-land to real live plants and rocks and things. Don't worry, a balanced ecosystem that is mostly self-cleaning isn't going to take long or much $$. The basking temp can be much higher for two reasons as well...A- turtles like most reptiles need higher temps to digest their food, otherwise it literally can rot in their gut. 82-85F is borderline for water turtles from what I experienced. Then, I raised my basking temps to 100F-102F on part of their platforms/rocks and instantly, everyone was acting like their felt better....that's the best way to describe it. And B- they can move once their warm....as long as it isn't 100C, you aren't going to cook your guy, but use your head! They are pretty instinctual survivors....they've been doing it a lot long then we humans have!

Also....YES, your guy likely feels VERY exposed uncovered and when he dives, he remains so for now.......from his view, danger is only the lip of the habitat away! They love to be covered but it's rare for nature to supply canopy's over logs so they scramble...like your guy does. Relax, as you build his home, add a little cover spot, even a little "mouse hide" on his platform out of the heat if there's room...and he will appreciate it!

You mentioned that he eats from your hand....FANTASTIC....get some liquid D3(I buy the D3 vitamin gel caps and cut them) and pour it on his food ...he won't notice it when you feed it to him and you will rest easier knowing he's getting his vitee's!


Good luck....there's some real 1st class talent here on this forum, browse the sticky's at the top ....you will learn things, promise!

jeff
 

crazyanimalperson

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Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
12
Location (City and/or State)
New Zealand
I think our friends in NZ was all 277Volt so Amazon here will show few options.

The guys here have given you some great advice and good for you for asking! It shows you are taking the lead to provide your guy with a nice home.

I kept water turtles, usually 15-20 in multiple 55gal tanks..........for decades but all my info is opinion only....I'm new here too! LOL

Temps.....I always liked lower H20 temps while having warmer basking for a couple of reasons....you have 26C=79F, maybe drop it further to 74F=23/24C..... and the lower water temps not only will drive him up to bask and warm up but it keeps down the green bacteria that you will begin to see as you turn it from a plastic-land to real live plants and rocks and things. Don't worry, a balanced ecosystem that is mostly self-cleaning isn't going to take long or much $$. The basking temp can be much higher for two reasons as well...A- turtles like most reptiles need higher temps to digest their food, otherwise it literally can rot in their gut. 82-85F is borderline for water turtles from what I experienced. Then, I raised my basking temps to 100F-102F on part of their platforms/rocks and instantly, everyone was acting like their felt better....that's the best way to describe it. And B- they can move once their warm....as long as it isn't 100C, you aren't going to cook your guy, but use your head! They are pretty instinctual survivors....they've been doing it a lot long then we humans have!

Also....YES, your guy likely feels VERY exposed uncovered and when he dives, he remains so for now.......from his view, danger is only the lip of the habitat away! They love to be covered but it's rare for nature to supply canopy's over logs so they scramble...like your guy does. Relax, as you build his home, add a little cover spot, even a little "mouse hide" on his platform out of the heat if there's room...and he will appreciate it!

You mentioned that he eats from your hand....FANTASTIC....get some liquid D3(I buy the D3 vitamin gel caps and cut them) and pour it on his food ...he won't notice it when you feed it to him and you will rest easier knowing he's getting his vitee's!


Good luck....there's some real 1st class talent here on this forum, browse the sticky's at the top ....you will learn things, promise!

jeff

Thanks heaps for all the helpful suggestions, I will certainly be trying all those. It just goes to show that you can do the hours of research and still miss a vital piece of information. I'm remined to keep on reading 😄 🐢
I took out the UV bulbs yesterday and replaced with ones from my lamps haha.
I have some calcium/d3 powder to sprinkle on his food. LOVE reeves turtles because they're so friendly! It's funny because he'll follow me up the ramp if I'm holding my tweezers and a food lure haha. But won't come out otherwise if I'm hovering around.

Out of curiosity do people bring their turtles outside on warm days so they can explore and get some natural sunlight? I like the idea of letting him wander around on the grass, building him a little pen to explore, but I don't want to do it if it's going to be too traumatic for him. It's winter now but we've got some sunny days coming up. Occasionally when I pick him up he doesn't seem too bothered.
 

ZenHerper

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Thanks heaps for all the helpful suggestions, I will certainly be trying all those. It just goes to show that you can do the hours of research and still miss a vital piece of information. I'm remined to keep on reading 😄 🐢
I took out the UV bulbs yesterday and replaced with ones from my lamps haha.
I have some calcium/d3 powder to sprinkle on his food. LOVE reeves turtles because they're so friendly! It's funny because he'll follow me up the ramp if I'm holding my tweezers and a food lure haha. But won't come out otherwise if I'm hovering around.

Out of curiosity do people bring their turtles outside on warm days so they can explore and get some natural sunlight? I like the idea of letting him wander around on the grass, building him a little pen to explore, but I don't want to do it if it's going to be too traumatic for him. It's winter now but we've got some sunny days coming up. Occasionally when I pick him up he doesn't seem too bothered.
There are a few things to know about turtles outdoors:

A - they jet. I mean, they can go swimming-fast, like you can't catch them. You'll need a secure enclosure, and a turtle closer to 4 inches SCL (less fragile) in order to put him down on the ground. It is not fun to try to find a turtle that jammed into a random clump of crabgrass when you only looked away for a second. (And it would really be awful to step on one.)

B - cover outdoors is more important than it is indoors. For sun exposure longer than 15-20 minutes, shade is a must. Turtles don't sweat, and they don't pant per se (they can open their mouths, but heat loss is minimal)...so they can cook inside their shells pretty quickly. More aquatic species seek out deep shade in a terrestrial enclosure if there is no water feature. A partially shaded water feature is ideal, and it should be kept routinely cleaned.

C - It is scary to begin with. Keep visits Out brief at first so Turt knows they go back to Home Base.
 

jeff kushner

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North of Annapolis
Adding to outdoor excursions......beware;.....most of his predators on the ground will be in the form of dogs/cats during the daytime hours and you will know where they are......but your biggest fear, and his, will be from the air. A bird will snatch him, even if you are 20 feet from him and watching and it will happen so quickly you will not be able to react to stop it.....just be cognisant and keep an eye out for anything the size of a Bluejay or larger.....
 
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