Lancaster County Pet Spring 2018

Page 22

+ MEET THE BREED

Diamondback Terrapin

written by Samantha St.Clair

A turtle companion NATIVE OF EAST COAST BRACKISH WATERS and saltwater marshes, the diamondback terrapin is a beautiful and unique reptile. They are one of the most diverse turtle species when it comes to appearances, and for one local family, their terrapin, Squirtle, is the talk of the neighborhood and a friend to all.

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When Squirtle’s family adopted him 17 years ago they never imagined he would be as important to their family as he is today. Squirtle was so small he could fit in a shirt pocket at the time he joined them, and while today he is a bit larger, he is still as friendly as ever. Squirtle’s mannerisms are somewhat similar to a dog in the way he follows them around the house and seeks attention from everyone, including house guests. His family attributes his friendly nature to adopting him at such a young age and having him around people consistently from the very start. While Squirtle is a highly interactive and fun pet, it is crucial to realize families should thoroughly study diamondback terrapin care before obtaining them. These turtles should be purchased

20 LANCASTER COUNTY PET

as captive bred hatchlings to get the most docile outcome possible. They grow quickly and require a decent amount of space by the time they are adults, so you should be prepared for tank sizes that give your aquatic reptile plenty of space for a water area and a large basking section. Larger enclosures are better as these turtles can be quite active and will appreciate prospering in a spacious habitat. As a saltwater inhabitant, they will need special care when it comes to water treatment. While they feed on a variety of creatures in the wild, captive diamondback terrapins will often be just fine eating commercial turtle diets with some fresher snacks such as shrimp or fish mixed into their meal plan on occasion. While you should do extensive research before considering a diamondback terrapin as a pet to ensure you give them optimal care for them to thrive, they are not incredibly difficult keepers once you have a proper setup in order. Other turtle options are out there for beginner caretakers who are unsure about the specific requirements diamondback terrapins need. This species can live for over 20 years, so they are not a commitment to take lightly, but that is a potential of over 20 years to have a beautiful and fun companion!


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