Terrapin Turtle


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Terrapins and turtles are both aquatic reptiles, but much disagreement exists about the differences between these two chelonians.?Like turtles, terrapins typically have flat shells to aid with swimming. Unlike turtles, however, terrapins tend not to have flippers, but legs more reminiscent of tortoises. They have be surprisingly good climbers, and males in particular can develop impressive claws in time.


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Pond terrapin turtles or ‘sliders’ (Trachemys scripta) include red-eared sliders, yellow-bellied sliders and Cumberland sliders. They are a type of hard-shelled, small turtles. Terrapin, (Malaclemys terrapin), a term formerly used to refer to any aquatic turtle but now restricted largely, though not exclusively, to the diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) of the turtle family Emydidae.

How long do terrapin turtles live?

The lifespan of a pond terrapin/slider is around 30 years in captivity, so it’s essential that any keepers are able to provide the care they will need for the animal’s entire life.

How big do terrapins turtles get?

Females are the larger of the species at 25cm. Males grow to around 21cm.

Creating a comfortable environment


A terrapin turtle will require a temperature gradient with a  basking zone where they can absorb warmth along with an area where they can cool down.

The heated zone should be provided by a heat lamp with a thermostat at 30-32°C. You must check the temperatures at least once a day.


You should fit a 7-12% reptile lamp over two thirds of the tank to create a wide area of UV. The output of UVB (essential for your terrapin to store and use calcium) decreases over time so the lamp must be replaced regularly.


Terrapins need constant access to clean water so you need a powerful filtration system. We advise using water testing kits to ensure the water is low in ammonia and nitrite.

What do terrapins eat?

Terrapins require a varied diet. A quality dried terrapin food should be used alongside thoroughly defrosted freshwater fish and live invertebrate foods.

Supplements are required to provide the vitamins and minerals not available in captivity.

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