My First Terrapin: What do I prepare?


Pets are a common thought for those who wish to expand their family, caring for cute, fluffy animals such as cats and dogs. However, one underrated pet that can be just as adorable are terrapins: small reptiles that spend most of their time basking in the water.

Though these friendly pets aren’t as high maintenance as your usual dogs and cats, you should still prepare a good and comfortable home for these water-loving creatures. If you’re looking to bring one home, here are some things you should look out for!


Items you’ll need

Before you cart your new terrapin home, you’ll have to set up their living area first! Here are some things you’ll need:

  • Large water tank (able to hold from 60 to 100 gallons of water) 
  • A water filtration system
  • A water heater
  • An island/basking zone

Be sure that your water tank is large enough for your terrapin to swim in comfortably! They’ll get claustrophobic if kept in small spaces, leading to possible depression and even appetite loss. For reference, terrapins can grow up to 22cm, with females reaching 25cm at times.

Having an island or a small platform in your tank will also help give your terrapins room to roam and bask in the warmth of the sunlight or your tank heater!

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Terrapins’ diet

Terrapins are omnivores, meaning they’ll need a healthy supply of both plant and animal-based food. You can feed them terrapin pellets for a steady base diet, though they should also be fed freshwater fish, shrimps, fruits, and vegetables! Be sure that their diet contains lots of vitamins and supplements to help boost your terrapins’ health.

If you’re ever unsure on what and how to change up your terrapins’ diet, you can always check in with your veterinarian for advice!

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Maintaining your terrapins’ home

You should aim to clean your terrapin tank at least once every two to three weeks, changing out the water and refreshing the filter. Take note to not use any soap to wash the tank, as traces of it might harm your pet!

Clean water is essential, as terrapins will only eat their meals once they’ve sufficiently dunked it in water. As such, this might cause a mess in your tank, so get ready to scoop out any leftovers or crumbs leftover in the water too.

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Terrapins’ health

Like other pets, terrapins can contract illnesses and diseases. A common disease would be the Metallic Bone Disease (MBD), which happens due to a lack of vitamin D3 and calcium as a result of being isolated from natural sunlight. Symptoms of MBD include an unnaturally soft and flexible terrapin shell, so be sure to keep an eye out for your pet’s health!

Unclean water and an unhealthy diet can also cause issues such as oral cavities, ear and respiratory infections, and pneumonia. So remember to clean out your tank frequently and take good care of your new terrapin friend!

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Caring for a new pet can be daunting at first, but with the right preparation and tools, you’ll be able to make a new, comfy home for your beloved terrapin!