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Turtles/Eastern Painted Turtle


QUESTION: I've have my Eastern Painted Turtle for about 3 days now. He won't eat. He's about 4  inches so I assume he's got some more growing to do, but I don't know the age. I've tried feeding him worms, apples, and the pellets you can bye in a pet store for reptiles. He's been digging in the gravel and when he comes across a worm he shoves it away. Am I feeding him the wrong foods?

ANSWER: Hi Lexi,

It can take several days to adjust to a new habitat, so don't worry yet.  Turtles don't have to eat every day.  However, can you give me more information so I can be sure that you have him set up properly?  

I need to know:

1)  tank size and type of filter

2) what type/brand of lights (heat and UVB) you're using

3)  water and basking surface temperatures (not air temp; measure basking temp on the basking surface under the lamp)

An adequately sized tank with really good filtration, and proper temperatures + UVB is really important, and will do a lot to prevent health problems in the long run.  Nearly all the problems I see are due to improper housing conditions.

A clear pic or two of the setup would help, too.  Then we can see if there's anything you need to change and figure out how to get him eating.  

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QUESTION: It's a ten gallon tank. The tag says bayco. I don't exactly the brand the light is.  I don't know how hot the lamp gets. The filter came with the tank. it didn't say what brand. I'm sorry I couldn't give more details

OK, well...unfortunately your setup is entirely wrong, and if you want your turtle to do well and stay healthy you're going to have to pretty much start from scratch.

First, the tank is WAY too small.  Your turtle at the size it is now should be in at least a 50 gallon tank, and since it will likely grow, a bigger tank would be better.  An adult painted needs 75+ gallons, and a big female will need 100, maybe even more.  I can't emphasize enough how important tank size is.  Crowding mans dirty water, stress, and illness.

You need a filter that is sized for at least twice the tank's capacity.  So for a 50 gallon tank you'd need a filter that can handle a 100+ gallon capacity.  Again, water quality is vitally important to avoid skin and shell problems.

You absolutely need to know temperatures.  If the water/basking temperatures are off, the turtle could be too warm or too cold and not eat, not bask enough, etc.  Water temp should be about 74-75 degrees, basking about 88-90.

You have to have a source of UVB.  It's virtually certain that you don't have one now.  Get a ZooMed Powersun 100 watt and that will provide heat and UVB (but change it yearly).  Don't get another brand because they're not very reliable.  

Diet should be as varied as possible, and include pellets, animal protein, and vegetation (greens, veggies, some fruit).  Avoid lettuce because it's not very nutritious.  I'll post some links below that will have some food ideas for you.

Read over all the links and let me know if you have any questions.


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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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