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Was given a wild-caught baby painted turtle, what do I do?

TuckerDucker

Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2018
Messages
79
Location (City and/or State)
Missouri
My coworker caught this little dude, a little larger than a quarter, a month ago. She's been keeping it in a small Tupperware container with unconditioned tap water, with no heat or UVB. She just gave him to me today. I'm talking to a wildlife rehabber right now, I want to release it, but the coworker doesn't remember what creek she got him from. The rehabber said I can't release him in any creek in the area. I don't really know what to do.
Right now I have him in a 10 gallon tank (it's all I had to spare in my house) with a heat lamp and conditioned water. There's no substrate. I got him a hide he can also use to climb out of the water on to bask. My local pet store doesn't carry UVB bulbs, so heading to the next town over tomorrow to get one for him if the rehabber doesn't respond what to do with it by then. I'm feeding him a commercial turtle food (not the sticks, it's wet gooey stuff made up of insects, fruits, etc.)
Is there a chance I'm going to have to keep him? If I do have to keep him, is there a good article or something outlining the care I have to give him/a list of all the stuff I need for him? Can I just find a creek that also has turtles to release him into? I just want to do what's best for this dude.68313447_479657006204451_4597236060521496576_n.jpg
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Jan 9, 2010
Messages
46,377
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I don't have your answer, but I want to say thank you for rescuing the little guy from certain death.

@Markw84 is very knowledgeable about water turtles. We have lots of experienced members here, but I've personally talked to Mark about aquatics a few times. Hopefully he'll chime in when he has a few minutes to spare.
 

Markw84

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,470
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
The Western Painted Turtle is a very beautiful and hardy turtle. Very easy to keep and can thrive in captivity. As a hatchling, the first issue is to get it to eat. If it is eating, and especially taking commercial pellets, you are well on your way to a healthy turtle.

You can release it as it is a native turtle to your area, and quite common. Since it has been in captivity now for over a month, I would discourage you from doing that. Also, releasing it into the wild does mean it will probably die. It is an interesting dilemma - we believe we are doing 'right' to release back into the wild so it can live a natural life, but we are almost always condemning it to death. Baby turtles have about a 1% chance of surviving to adulthood as most die before finding suitable places or become a snack for a larger animal - from bass to frogs to birds and skunks etc, etc.

Sounds like you got a hatchling from last year or one that overwintered in the nest and emerged late this spring. It was too early in the year for any of this year's nests to hatch yet. At that size is can do well in a 10 gallon tank for a few months, but will really do best with more room to swim. They are very active swimmers and baskers. They love plants to hide in. I use fake plant garlands I cut to fit into the tank. For hatchlings I like about 1/2 the tank filled with the plant garland. As long as its eating well and finding food, the water level can be any depth you desire asthetically. They do best in deeper water. If shallow water is used, always be sure it is deeper than the turtle is in length. The more water you have, the easier it will be for the filter to do its job and keep the water clean.

A 40 gallon breeder tank is a great size to rear hatchlings their first year or so. Western Painteds will get too large for that withing 2 years. An adult female will be about 7"-8" and an adult male will be about 5". Since they are very active, they do need room to swim. The painted turtles are also very personable and will soon swim eagerly towards you whenever they see you.

I use aquarium hoods (I love the LEDs now available) for ambient light. I add a 24" Fluorescent tube or compact fluorescent for UVB light over the basking area right next to an incadescent bulb for basking heat. I like the UVB to cover both the basking area and a bit of the water where there are plants to hang in near the surface. The pet stores carry nice floating docks that work very well for these turtles. It provides good basking yet allow swimming room beneath - so does not take up tank space like a pile of rocks would for a basking area.

I use reptomin htchling formula pellets as a staple food for hatchlings. The pellets are a bit softer and fortified with calcium and D3 a bit more than standard pellets. Since I feed so many turtles, I also transition to Mazuri aquatic turtle diet pellets I buy in 25 lb bags. That is the staple food for my turtles. The gel you are using is a good food. They love live blood (tubifex) worms you can get at the pet stores. The frozen cubes of blood worms is a great added treat they love as well. You can simply pop a frozen cube in the tank and your turtle will love to attack it.

For substrate, I either keep the tank bottom bare for ease of cleaning, or it a more visible "show" aquarium to enjoy, I like the 1/2"-1" rocks. The turtles will push through the rocks looking for food scraps and is good exercise and stimulates a natural hunting behavior. An aquarium vacuum is easy to clean the rocks with every few months or so.

Here's a picture of one of my tanks with probably 6 or 8 baby painteds and spotted turtles for an idea for you. Aquarium hood with two light fixtures over the basking - a compact fluorescent for UVB and a 65 watt incandescent flood bulb for basking heat.

I use the outside cannister filters for filtration. Oversize it for turtles. On a 40 gallon tank I would use a filter rated for at least 100 gallons. I love the Fluval filters. Although a bit expensive - you will find it well worth it in ease of maintainance and the way they keep a tank clean.

Hope this helps.

hatchling tank.jpg
 

Alex Z

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2016
Messages
788
Location (City and/or State)
NYC
Congrats, painteds are awesome to keep. I'm in the middle of preparing a 85g pond for a eastern painted and a map turtle. They are dynamic and very vibrant. If you have the space, set it up in a indoor pond like this:

Ponds are much more natural looking than tanks and you can get really creative too. Post pics of your setup when it's up and running.

88b3df90a8cca767fd2331e4599b1ec3.jpeg SMPond1.jpg
 

Moozillion

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
Messages
10,251
Location (City and/or State)
Louisiana, USA
Congrats, painteds are awesome to keep. I'm in the middle of preparing a 85g pond for a eastern painted and a map turtle. They are dynamic and very vibrant. If you have the space, set it up in a indoor pond like this:

Ponds are much more natural looking than tanks and you can get really creative too. Post pics of your setup when it's up and running.
WOW! Beautiful enclosure!!! :):<3:
 

vladimir

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 18, 2017
Messages
1,049
Location (City and/or State)
Pennsylvania
Thank you so, so much @Markw84 ! You just helped me a ton. He's readily eating the commercial food, so I think he's doing alright. I guess I have a pet turtle now, I wasn't expecting that whenever my coworker gave him to me.
I appreciate it!
You're in good hands with @Markw84. I have a male Western Painted we've had for almost 11 years now. They're great little turtles. :)

Thank you for rescuing this little one :<3::tort:
 

OkAdiza

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2019
Messages
43
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
The Western Painted Turtle is a very beautiful and hardy turtle. Very easy to keep and can thrive in captivity. As a hatchling, the first issue is to get it to eat. If it is eating, and especially taking commercial pellets, you are well on your way to a healthy turtle.

You can release it as it is a native turtle to your area, and quite common. Since it has been in captivity now for over a month, I would discourage you from doing that. Also, releasing it into the wild does mean it will probably die. It is an interesting dilemma - we believe we are doing 'right' to release back into the wild so it can live a natural life, but we are almost always condemning it to death. Baby turtles have about a 1% chance of surviving to adulthood as most die before finding suitable places or become a snack for a larger animal - from bass to frogs to birds and skunks etc, etc.

Sounds like you got a hatchling from last year or one that overwintered in the nest and emerged late this spring. It was too early in the year for any of this year's nests to hatch yet. At that size is can do well in a 10 gallon tank for a few months, but will really do best with more room to swim. They are very active swimmers and baskers. They love plants to hide in. I use fake plant garlands I cut to fit into the tank. For hatchlings I like about 1/2 the tank filled with the plant garland. As long as its eating well and finding food, the water level can be any depth you desire asthetically. They do best in deeper water. If shallow water is used, always be sure it is deeper than the turtle is in length. The more water you have, the easier it will be for the filter to do its job and keep the water clean.

A 40 gallon breeder tank is a great size to rear hatchlings their first year or so. Western Painteds will get too large for that withing 2 years. An adult female will be about 7"-8" and an adult male will be about 5". Since they are very active, they do need room to swim. The painted turtles are also very personable and will soon swim eagerly towards you whenever they see you.

I use aquarium hoods (I love the LEDs now available) for ambient light. I add a 24" Fluorescent tube or compact fluorescent for UVB light over the basking area right next to an incadescent bulb for basking heat. I like the UVB to cover both the basking area and a bit of the water where there are plants to hang in near the surface. The pet stores carry nice floating docks that work very well for these turtles. It provides good basking yet allow swimming room beneath - so does not take up tank space like a pile of rocks would for a basking area.

I use reptomin htchling formula pellets as a staple food for hatchlings. The pellets are a bit softer and fortified with calcium and D3 a bit more than standard pellets. Since I feed so many turtles, I also transition to Mazuri aquatic turtle diet pellets I buy in 25 lb bags. That is the staple food for my turtles. The gel you are using is a good food. They love live blood (tubifex) worms you can get at the pet stores. The frozen cubes of blood worms is a great added treat they love as well. You can simply pop a frozen cube in the tank and your turtle will love to attack it.

For substrate, I either keep the tank bottom bare for ease of cleaning, or it a more visible "show" aquarium to enjoy, I like the 1/2"-1" rocks. The turtles will push through the rocks looking for food scraps and is good exercise and stimulates a natural hunting behavior. An aquarium vacuum is easy to clean the rocks with every few months or so.

Here's a picture of one of my tanks with probably 6 or 8 baby painteds and spotted turtles for an idea for you. Aquarium hood with two light fixtures over the basking - a compact fluorescent for UVB and a 65 watt incandescent flood bulb for basking heat.

I use the outside cannister filters for filtration. Oversize it for turtles. On a 40 gallon tank I would use a filter rated for at least 100 gallons. I love the Fluval filters. Although a bit expensive - you will find it well worth it in ease of maintainance and the way they keep a tank clean.

Hope this helps.

View attachment 278687
Hello, I hope it’s ok to ask this here, but will the food recommendations you made for the painted also be ok for hatchling red eared sliders? We have two and can only get them to eat mealworms and small dried shrimp. Thank you.
 

Markw84

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,470
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
Hello, I hope it’s ok to ask this here, but will the food recommendations you made for the painted also be ok for hatchling red eared sliders? We have two and can only get them to eat mealworms and small dried shrimp. Thank you.
Yes. Great for sliders too. I use those foods for young Chrysemys, Trachemys, Pseudemys, Graptemys, Actinemys, Clemmys, Sternotherus, Kinosternon.
 

OkAdiza

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2019
Messages
43
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
Yes. Great for sliders too. I use those foods for young Chrysemys, Trachemys, Pseudemys, Graptemys, Actinemys, Clemmys, Sternotherus, Kinosternon.
Great, thank you for responding! We will try some of those.
 

OkAdiza

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2019
Messages
43
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
The Western Painted Turtle is a very beautiful and hardy turtle. Very easy to keep and can thrive in captivity. As a hatchling, the first issue is to get it to eat. If it is eating, and especially taking commercial pellets, you are well on your way to a healthy turtle.

You can release it as it is a native turtle to your area, and quite common. Since it has been in captivity now for over a month, I would discourage you from doing that. Also, releasing it into the wild does mean it will probably die. It is an interesting dilemma - we believe we are doing 'right' to release back into the wild so it can live a natural life, but we are almost always condemning it to death. Baby turtles have about a 1% chance of surviving to adulthood as most die before finding suitable places or become a snack for a larger animal - from bass to frogs to birds and skunks etc, etc.

Sounds like you got a hatchling from last year or one that overwintered in the nest and emerged late this spring. It was too early in the year for any of this year's nests to hatch yet. At that size is can do well in a 10 gallon tank for a few months, but will really do best with more room to swim. They are very active swimmers and baskers. They love plants to hide in. I use fake plant garlands I cut to fit into the tank. For hatchlings I like about 1/2 the tank filled with the plant garland. As long as its eating well and finding food, the water level can be any depth you desire asthetically. They do best in deeper water. If shallow water is used, always be sure it is deeper than the turtle is in length. The more water you have, the easier it will be for the filter to do its job and keep the water clean.

A 40 gallon breeder tank is a great size to rear hatchlings their first year or so. Western Painteds will get too large for that withing 2 years. An adult female will be about 7"-8" and an adult male will be about 5". Since they are very active, they do need room to swim. The painted turtles are also very personable and will soon swim eagerly towards you whenever they see you.

I use aquarium hoods (I love the LEDs now available) for ambient light. I add a 24" Fluorescent tube or compact fluorescent for UVB light over the basking area right next to an incadescent bulb for basking heat. I like the UVB to cover both the basking area and a bit of the water where there are plants to hang in near the surface. The pet stores carry nice floating docks that work very well for these turtles. It provides good basking yet allow swimming room beneath - so does not take up tank space like a pile of rocks would for a basking area.

I use reptomin htchling formula pellets as a staple food for hatchlings. The pellets are a bit softer and fortified with calcium and D3 a bit more than standard pellets. Since I feed so many turtles, I also transition to Mazuri aquatic turtle diet pellets I buy in 25 lb bags. That is the staple food for my turtles. The gel you are using is a good food. They love live blood (tubifex) worms you can get at the pet stores. The frozen cubes of blood worms is a great added treat they love as well. You can simply pop a frozen cube in the tank and your turtle will love to attack it.

For substrate, I either keep the tank bottom bare for ease of cleaning, or it a more visible "show" aquarium to enjoy, I like the 1/2"-1" rocks. The turtles will push through the rocks looking for food scraps and is good exercise and stimulates a natural hunting behavior. An aquarium vacuum is easy to clean the rocks with every few months or so.

Here's a picture of one of my tanks with probably 6 or 8 baby painteds and spotted turtles for an idea for you. Aquarium hood with two light fixtures over the basking - a compact fluorescent for UVB and a 65 watt incandescent flood bulb for basking heat.

I use the outside cannister filters for filtration. Oversize it for turtles. On a 40 gallon tank I would use a filter rated for at least 100 gallons. I love the Fluval filters. Although a bit expensive - you will find it well worth it in ease of maintainance and the way they keep a tank clean.

Hope this helps.

View attachment 278687
The Western Painted Turtle is a very beautiful and hardy turtle. Very easy to keep and can thrive in captivity. As a hatchling, the first issue is to get it to eat. If it is eating, and especially taking commercial pellets, you are well on your way to a healthy turtle.

You can release it as it is a native turtle to your area, and quite common. Since it has been in captivity now for over a month, I would discourage you from doing that. Also, releasing it into the wild does mean it will probably die. It is an interesting dilemma - we believe we are doing 'right' to release back into the wild so it can live a natural life, but we are almost always condemning it to death. Baby turtles have about a 1% chance of surviving to adulthood as most die before finding suitable places or become a snack for a larger animal - from bass to frogs to birds and skunks etc, etc.

Sounds like you got a hatchling from last year or one that overwintered in the nest and emerged late this spring. It was too early in the year for any of this year's nests to hatch yet. At that size is can do well in a 10 gallon tank for a few months, but will really do best with more room to swim. They are very active swimmers and baskers. They love plants to hide in. I use fake plant garlands I cut to fit into the tank. For hatchlings I like about 1/2 the tank filled with the plant garland. As long as its eating well and finding food, the water level can be any depth you desire asthetically. They do best in deeper water. If shallow water is used, always be sure it is deeper than the turtle is in length. The more water you have, the easier it will be for the filter to do its job and keep the water clean.

A 40 gallon breeder tank is a great size to rear hatchlings their first year or so. Western Painteds will get too large for that withing 2 years. An adult female will be about 7"-8" and an adult male will be about 5". Since they are very active, they do need room to swim. The painted turtles are also very personable and will soon swim eagerly towards you whenever they see you.

I use aquarium hoods (I love the LEDs now available) for ambient light. I add a 24" Fluorescent tube or compact fluorescent for UVB light over the basking area right next to an incadescent bulb for basking heat. I like the UVB to cover both the basking area and a bit of the water where there are plants to hang in near the surface. The pet stores carry nice floating docks that work very well for these turtles. It provides good basking yet allow swimming room beneath - so does not take up tank space like a pile of rocks would for a basking area.

I use reptomin htchling formula pellets as a staple food for hatchlings. The pellets are a bit softer and fortified with calcium and D3 a bit more than standard pellets. Since I feed so many turtles, I also transition to Mazuri aquatic turtle diet pellets I buy in 25 lb bags. That is the staple food for my turtles. The gel you are using is a good food. They love live blood (tubifex) worms you can get at the pet stores. The frozen cubes of blood worms is a great added treat they love as well. You can simply pop a frozen cube in the tank and your turtle will love to attack it.

For substrate, I either keep the tank bottom bare for ease of cleaning, or it a more visible "show" aquarium to enjoy, I like the 1/2"-1" rocks. The turtles will push through the rocks looking for food scraps and is good exercise and stimulates a natural hunting behavior. An aquarium vacuum is easy to clean the rocks with every few months or so.

Here's a picture of one of my tanks with probably 6 or 8 baby painteds and spotted turtles for an idea for you. Aquarium hood with two light fixtures over the basking - a compact fluorescent for UVB and a 65 watt incandescent flood bulb for basking heat.

I use the outside cannister filters for filtration. Oversize it for turtles. On a 40 gallon tank I would use a filter rated for at least 100 gallons. I love the Fluval filters. Although a bit expensive - you will find it well worth it in ease of maintainance and the way they keep a tank clean.

Hope this helps.

View attachment 278687
Sorry to post in this thread again. Please move if it shouldn’t be here, I had a question about the lighting Markw84 mentioned above. Is a compact fluorescent light ok for turtles? Is this different than the coils that are not good for tortoises? I currently have a linear T8 UVB and heat lamp, but they lay on a mesh screen. I was told that was the only way to have the Zoomed hood on a tank, but reading through the forum I believe I need to get rid of the screen. I am not sure how to have that hood work now. Is the compact an option for water turtles so that I can use a hanging stand or is it better to go with a MVL? Is compact different than coil? I was under the impression they were the same. Thank you for help in advance.
 

Markw84

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,470
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
Sorry to post in this thread again. Please move if it shouldn’t be here, I had a question about the lighting Markw84 mentioned above. Is a compact fluorescent light ok for turtles? Is this different than the coils that are not good for tortoises? I currently have a linear T8 UVB and heat lamp, but they lay on a mesh screen. I was told that was the only way to have the Zoomed hood on a tank, but reading through the forum I believe I need to get rid of the screen. I am not sure how to have that hood work now. Is the compact an option for water turtles so that I can use a hanging stand or is it better to go with a MVL? Is compact different than coil? I was under the impression they were the same. Thank you for help in advance.
I use compact fluorescents on some of my aquatic tanks. Yes, the coil is a type of compact fluorescent. For a very small basking area and low height requirements in many aquatic turtle setups, they work well. I do have a Solarmeter 6.5 so always check all my setups. I have the looped compact horizontally about 6" above shell height and get a 2.5 UVI. The compacts do not work well for almost any tortoise application. For a tortoise you want a wider/broader UVI zone and want the light mounted higher. A linear Fluorescent is the way to go there with a much better/stronger output. That way you can mount the stonger output light higher and get a nice broad, useful UVI zone. You simply cannot do that with a compact. I do use linear tubes for some of my aquatics where I have a larger tank and can mount the light higher. In that tank I like have a large basking zone extending well over the water with floating plants. This allows good UVB exposure while float basking which many turtles prefer. I never use MVB over turtles or tortoises. I absolutely don't like the extremely inordinate amount of IR-A. Plus they give off a totally unreliable level of UVB with can degrade quickly.
 

OkAdiza

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2019
Messages
43
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
I use compact fluorescents on some of my aquatic tanks. Yes, the coil is a type of compact fluorescent. For a very small basking area and low height requirements in many aquatic turtle setups, they work well. I do have a Solarmeter 6.5 so always check all my setups. I have the looped compact horizontally about 6" above shell height and get a 2.5 UVI. The compacts do not work well for almost any tortoise application. For a tortoise you want a wider/broader UVI zone and want the light mounted higher. A linear Fluorescent is the way to go there with a much better/stronger output. That way you can mount the stonger output light higher and get a nice broad, useful UVI zone. You simply cannot do that with a compact. I do use linear tubes for some of my aquatics where I have a larger tank and can mount the light higher. In that tank I like have a large basking zone extending well over the water with floating plants. This allows good UVB exposure while float basking which many turtles prefer. I never use MVB over turtles or tortoises. I absolutely don't like the extremely inordinate amount of IR-A. Plus they give off a totally unreliable level of UVB with can degrade quickly.
Thank you! I might PM with a few more questions if that's ok?
 

TammyJ

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
2,819
Location (City and/or State)
Jamaica
TuckerDucker, looks like your turtle is off to a great start in his (?) her new life with you! All the best!
 

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