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Turtles/painted turtels


i found a turtle in the wild and i wanted to keep it so i did and people say that they are very stressed and they wont eat but my turtle does eat and he eats soggy dog food but i keep him in a small habitat and i keep him in the shade outside will he live very long

Hi Alicia,

Wild turtles should not be taken from the wild--collection is one reason North American turtle species have been devastated in recent decades.  There are plenty of captive bred turtles in the pet trade, so it's always best to leave wild turtles wild.  However, now that you have this one in captivity, you can't release it, ever, so it's your responsibility to take the best care of it possible.

Dog food is a very poor diet for a painted turtle, or for any turtle, for that matter.  So you need to completely change the diet.  A small habitat is also not appropriate for a turtle.  They need plenty of room, and in the case of a painted turtle, that means a large (75-100 gallon) tank with large-capacity filter, basking/UVB lights, proper temperatures, etc.  Outside, you need to provide a pond with mixed cover (sun and shade).  Diet should include a good quality pellet diet, animal protein, and greens, with as much variety as possible.

Can turtles live a long time?  Yes, they can live 25-30 years or even longer if kept in the right conditions.  Kept in a small habitat and fed only dog food--no, probably not.  If you want your turtle to be healthy and long-lived--and most of all, happy--you do need to make significant changes.

Here are links to more information on proper care.  Please read them carefully, and if you have any questions, please post back and I'll try to answer them.


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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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