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REPTILE / new pets

Your Turtle or Tortoise's New Home

They both carry their shells on their backs, but these reptiles thrive in different environments.



Turtles live mainly in water. They’ll need an aquarium of at least 29 gallons, with a screened top.

Turtles need 12 hours a day of “daylight,” but their aquarium should not be placed in direct sun. Instead, use a UVA/UVB bulb to provide the rays they need for strong bones and shells.

The tank should have a warm side heated to between 90 and 95 degrees, and a cool side with a temperature of 75 to 85 degrees. At night, the whole tank should be between 70 and 75 degrees. Use a heat bulb to keep things at the right temperature. The swimming water also must be heated with an overhead lamp, underwater aquarium heater or under-tank heater.

Filter turtles’ water with a canister filter or power filter. The stronger the filter, the better, unless your turtle seems to be fighting against the current.

While turtles love to swim, they’ll also need a dry area on the warmer side of the tank. Build a “beach” out of gravel or buy a floating platform.

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Tortoises live on land. They need a terrarium of at least 40 gallons.

Like turtles, tortoises also need 12 hours of “daylight” but should not be kept in the direct sun. A UVA/UVB bulb will simulate the light they need for their bones and shells.

Use a heat bulb to warm one side of the tank to 95 to 100 degrees; the cool side should be 70 to 85 degrees. At night, keep the entire terrarium between 60 and 70 degrees.

Some tortoise types love humidity, and others prefer it dry; ask PetSmart associate for information, or check out our tortoise care guides to determine how much moisture should be in the air.

Different tortoise types also prefer different bedding. Greek Tortoises like sterile soil and calcium sand, while Russian Tortoises and Red-Foots prefer coconut fiber or bark.

As a finishing touch, add a rock on the warm side for your tortoise to bask on and a platform, cave or other structure on the cool side so they can hide.

Don’t forget a shallow dish of water for drinking and splashing.

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