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Today in Health & Wellness
PET CARE

Turtles as Pets and the Health Benefits

By: Luisa MamaradloTurtles as Pets and the Health Benefits

It is no secret that animals have had their fair share of the spotlight on the world wide web. Smart, adorable, and emphatic pictures and videos of animals have taken the internet by storm and persuaded many to have their own pet to take care of.

Science has proven that having a pet at home can be beneficial to your physical, mental, and emotional health. A Swedish study on female participants reveal that those who own a dog are likely to have increased levels of oxytocin, also known as the happy hormone, and their heart rates were lower up to an hour compared to those who do not have pet dogs.

Many owners will agree that a pet helps alleviate loneliness and stress. Animals help boost your overall mood and provide a feeling of companionship, which resulted in a type of therapy known as animal-assisted therapy (AAT) or pet-facilitated therapy (PFT). This therapy is being used and promoted in hospitals and nursing homes overseas. 

The most common or popular types of pets are dogs and cats as they have been domesticated and can be trained. However, if you are looking for something out of the ordinary and generally easy to care for, then you might want to consider having a turtle as a pet.

Like most pets, you need to be well researched and prepared.

First, learn about the type of turtle you are bringing in to your home. Keep in mind that a turtle spends most of their time in the water and are different from tortoises (which live on land) and terrapins (which evenly stay on either land or freshwater). There are approximately 270 types of turtles considered ideal for beginner turtle parents, according to PetMD.

Turtles as reptiles are aquatic animals and live in semi-aquatic environments. That means they require both land and water to live. Typically, they are housed in a terrarium or an enclosure that can provide ample room for them to explore since turtles can grow about 8-12 inches or 20-30 centimeters long.

With water as a necessity in their living environment, it is important to keep a strong filtration system and a heat lamp to maintain the temperature.

Turtles also commonly carry salmonella, a bacteria that can be transmitted to humans and compromise their health. Therefore, it is important for owners to keep good hygiene as well by washing your hands after cleaning your pet turtle.

“Clean water is the success to keeping your turtle healthy and happy. Frequent water changes will ensure the water is clean and free of particles that can lead to infections,” according to Brian Ogle, a science instructor at Beacon College who specializes in animal behavior and pet ownership.

Now let us move on with their diet. Turtles eat insects, small fish, and green leafy vegetables. Unlike most pets, they are not fed on a daily basis except if you have a young baby turtle. Generally, your pet turtle should be fed four to five times a week.

The lifespan of turtles is another consideration pet owners should consider. Turtles have a lifespan of 15- 25 years. Hence, experts highly advise that when you buy or adopt these animals you should absolutely love and desire to have them as pets.

“It is work, and you've got to pay attention to your turtle. [Buy a turtle] because you absolutely love turtles. Do not buy one on a whim. You need to have the desire and a love for animals,” said Jim Nesci, host of conservation educational show “Cold Blooded Creatures”.

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