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Turtle care info

This information is designed to keep your turtle happy and healthy. Most health issues are related to poor housing and / or poor diet so that is what the emphasis is on here.


For keeping your small turtle indoors, you need Let your turtle settle in to the new environment, don’t play with it, you will only stress it, stress can cause health issues.


A natural diet such as the turtle would find in the rivers or dams is always the best. Therefore, uncooked fresh water fish, fresh water prawns, yabbies, bloodworms, brine shrimp, fresh water snails. NO white meat, no red meat, no vegetables.

Whitebait is suitable if soaked for a few hours to remove the salt. Likewise salt water prawns, but they should also have the head and tails removed. Leave the shell on. Fresh is always better than frozen, and freshwater fish are better than salt water fish.

Insects like crickets are ok. Short neck turtles can have some plant matter to eat as well, eg ribbonweed available from Aquarium shops. Duckweed is particularly good for them. Turtle pellets are ok, including Hikari Cichlid Gold, which is actually for fish but has vitamins etc that turtles need also.

Vary the diet, don’t get the turtle stuck on one food alone. Feed a small turtle once a day an amount equal to the size of their head. When they get to 10cm shell length you can feed them every second day.

Don’t overfeed your turtle, despite it seemingly being hungry. You will only be “killing it with kindness” as it will grow too big too fast, get fat and have associated health issues including a shortened life span.

Avoid the frozen turtle dinners from pet stores unless the contents are fish products, even then use sparingly as part of a whole varied diet.

Add feeder fish to stimulate their natural hunting instincts and provide a potential food source.

Natural sunshine

There is no substitute for natural sunshine, even with your UV tube above the tank. Give them time in the sun at least twice a week for about 20 minutes. Put them in a tub (no water) that is partly in the sun and partly in the shade, so they can regulate their body temperature. Keep an eye on them.

Turtle aggression

It is quite common when two turtles (especially short neck species) are kept in a relatively confined space that aggression will occur when one bites the tail, feet or neck of the other. If this happens ultimately the only solution will be to separate them or get a bigger tank.

Turtle size

No turtle will stay small, they all grow. When your turtle gets to about 15cm in shell length it is really better off in a 6’ tank, or better still in an outdoor pond. We can help in re-homing it at this stage if necessary.

Outdoor ponds

Outdoor ponds can be in ground, above ground (eg if you have a concrete slab in your yard) or partly in ground and partly above. In ground is preferable for reasons of insulation from heat and cold, although an above ground pond on concrete can be insulated to some extent by placing it on a bed of polystyrene. My above ground ponds (which can also be put in ground) were purchased from the Australian Koi Farm. Smaller pre-fabricated fibreglass or plastic ponds often come up on ebay (look under garden pond or fish pond). Avoid the ones with a pebblecrete finish as they can cause abrasion to a turtle's plastron (lower shell).

Alternately, a free-form in ground pond with rubber lining can be made to look very attractive and natural, resembling a turtle's natural habitat. Whichever way you go, bigger is better and try to make it at least 30-40cm deep so that the water temperature will not be so easily affected by the air temperature.

Some basic requirements for outdoor turtle ponds:

Whilst I am happy to share information via this website, please note Turtle Town is not a shop, nor a tourist attraction, it is my backyard hobby, ie my home, and therefore not open to the public.

Please note, I am not qualified to give veterinarian advice. Before you phone me with any questions please read the FAQ page and the information above, your questions will probably be answered there. This page is also recommended reading if you are considering keeping a turtle as a pet.

For enquiries contact Shane on 0404 463446 (please don't text) or email