West African Side Necked Turtle Care Information
West African Side Necked Turtles are available in different color morphs. We recommend starting with them as babies to grow alongside them. Each has their own personalities and it tends to be easier to work with them as babies instead of fully grown.
These turtles are aquatic and will spend most of the time in the water. In the wild, they are mostly active during the day and enjoy basking in the warm weather. They are easy to scare and the slightest movement or sound will make them react. These amazing turtles have great personalities and like to be personable. It is not uncommon to see them swimming up close to you expecting to get fed.
6 things you might not know about your West African Side Necked Turtle.
- West African Side Necked Turtles can grow between 7 – 12 inches. (17cm-30cm)
- They can live up to 50 years possibly longer in captivity. The lifespans are determined by their environment and quality of life.
- They are native to West Africa.
- Since these turtles are cold-blooded they use the water to help regulate their temperature
- These turtles are almost entirely aquatic. Sometimes they will bask but they live mostly underwater.
- They are usually found in rivers as well as lakes and ponds. During the dry season, they bury themselves into the mud.
How do I set up my turtle’s habitat?
Most prefer aquatic habitats but there are a few different setups you can consider.
You will need the following:
- Provide 10 gallons of water for every inch of shell length. (5-6 inch shell = 50- 60 gallons of water.)
- Aquarium either glass or acrylic.
- Space for your baby turtle to grow
- Optional Feeding Tank
- A tight fit cover/screen to place over the aquarium to stop any objects from falling and prevents any escape attempts.
Your habitat will need to include an entrance and exit so the turtle can easily move back and forth from the water and a flat surface for them to bask out of the water.
Different types of basking areas:
- Cork Bark
- Smooth Rocks
- Stable Platforms ( You will need a flat surface for them to sit.)
We do not recommend using any plastic plants. This will help prevent them from eating the fake scenery.
Temperature & Humidity
Keeping the right temperature and humidity is very important to ensure your turtle’s life quality is second to none.
- Air temperature needs to be 75 degrees in the aquarium. If the area’s temperature is lower you will need a room heater or an infrared light to help maintain temperature.
- We recommend keeping the basking site next to your light. The site should be between 85 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Water temperature should be between 75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit
- You will also need a thermometer submerged under water to make sure it’s the correct temp. Be mindful of the aquariums water quality. Just like any animal, they create waste which can create bacteria and other harmful substances to your turtle. You will need to change the water and make sure it’s the right temperature before introducing your turtle to it.
- We suggest using a de-chlorinating agent to treat the water before you put it back in the aquarium. If you are feeding in the tank you will need to change the water once a week.
- If you are using a feeding tank you should be changing the water twice a month. This includes being drained, cleaned and refilled. Having a separate tank to move the turtle in during cleanings is ideal.
- There are many filers systems on the market. Depending on the aquarium we suggest going with an external canister, internal canister or an under-gravel filter system. To create more room in the tank go with an external filter. Air stones could help you move water and create a better filtration system.
Lighting for your Habitat
- Make sure the stationary light you are using is placed outside of the aquarium or above the screen.
- Your light should be placed 18 to 24 inches from the turtle.
- Never place the light in a way where it can fall into the water. This prevents the turtle from burning or worse killing itself.
- Using an ultraviolet light will help provide the turtle with a sense of its natural habitat.
- We do not recommend filtering the light through glass or plastic
- Do not place the aquarium in direct sunlight to prevent an increase in the overall temperature.
- Anything plugged in should be used with a ground-fault interrupter and held outside and above the aquarium is possible. This will help reduce the risk of electrocuting the turtle.
What do I feed my turtle?
Keeping a well-balanced diet for your turtle is essential. We recommend using a variety of items to feed your turtle. Since they are omnivores they will need a variety of plant-based items. We recommend using commercial turtle pellets to ensure they are receiving the right amount of nutrition. This should be fed along with dark green vegetables or other non-toxic aquatic plants such as water lettuce or anacharis. They can also enjoy sliced vegetables like carrots or squashes. Is not uncommon for these types of turtles to enjoy shrimp, earthworm, or goldfish as treats. The diet should include a variety of fresh plant materials and protein sources. It can be easier to utilize a feeding tank. They can be messy eaters. Chlorine free water needs to be available for drinking at all times. You turtle should be fed daily.