While African sideneck turtles will eat commercial-grade turtle food, you can really make them happy by feeding them some of the same foods they would eat in the wild and the occasional freeze-died treat. Sideneck turtles are generally docile and easy to take care of. Finding foods they love is not a difficult task.
Meet the African Sideneck
If you’re not yet a proud turtle owner but are considering purchasing a new pet, the African sideneck turtle may be a good choice. The creature is a freshwater turtle native to Africa and widely available as a pet in the United States. A few things you should know: The Africa sideneck turtle shell can grow from 8 inches to upward of 18 inches, making it somewhat large for a pet turtle, and it can live to be over 25 years old, so we’re talking about a long committment. They can be kept in a large aquarium with some gravel, sunlight and food.
The Natural Diet
In the wild, African sideneck turtles usually eat invertebrates such as insects and worms. Letting your turtle eat some of these creatures can be a good treat, but make sure you purchase them commercially rather than just collect insects in your backyard -- insects in the wild may be affected by pesticides that can harm your pet. Most pet stores will carry worms, crickets and other insects that sideneck turtles love.
Other Foods They Eat
Sideneck turtles love dark leafy greens, so you can try feeding your pet small amounts of vegetables like spinach and kale. Your turtle should not have trouble chewing this food, but make sure that the leaves are not too big for your pet to safely eat. Aquatic turtles also enjoy certain freeze-dried foods such as shrimp, mealworms, and crickets. Again, these types of foods are available at most pet stores, and pet store employees can help you pick out more foods that are both safe and enjoyable for your turtle.
Gone in 20 Minutes
Overfeeding is a problem for many novice turtle owners. An African sideneck turtle will eat anything his owner sets out for him, because he has the same opportunistic feeding mindset he would have in the wild. Feed a hatchling once a day, a juvenile every other day and an adult twice weekly. Feed no more than the turtle can eat in 15 to 20 minutes.
Water and Warmth
In addition to taking care of your sideneck turtle’s diet, you need to make sure your pet has plenty of water. A dehydrated turtle can have minor eye problems, and severe dehydration can have fatal consequences; make sure your turtle’s water dish stays full. An aquatic creature, the sideneck turtle loves to swim, so give yours an opportunity to do so when possible. The turtle needs warmth and sunlight, so make sure yours has a habitat with good natural light. If you live in a colder, darker climate, consider placing a UV light above the aquarium.
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Juliana Weiss-Roessler has been writing since 2000. She worked as the head of the Web content department for the star of an Emmy-nominated reality series. Her ghostwriting has appeared in "PARADE" and "People." Weiss-Roessler is a blogger for Resumark and an editor for Pink Raygun. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida.