Just as different types of dogs have varied needs, turtles also have distinctive requirements according to their kind. All the turtles that you can find all over the world have shells but that’s probably the only thing that they have in common. For you to be able to take care of your pet, you will want to first identify which kind of turtle you have. There are all sorts of ways to identify which kind of turtle you have with you and you don’t have to be a zoologist to properly determine your pet’s species.
There are several identifying points that can help you identify which kind of turtle you have obtained. These markings differ across various species of turtles making it easier even for novice pet owners to notice them. Your local pet shop can also help you identify which kind of turtle you found and prescribe a specific way of taking care of it.
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1. The pet doctor/ Veterinarian
Either take the turtle itself or a picture of the turtle to your veterinarian (or a veterinarian if this is your first pet). Most veterinarians will be able to identify which kind of turtle you have with just a glace. A bonus to bringing the turtle with you is that the veterinarian might have time to give your turtle a quick exam to make sure that it is healthy.
2. Going online
You could also post a picture of the turtle on the internet. There are plenty of forums for animal lovers and turtle experts. If you post a photo of your turtle, you will probably get lots of responses that will identify which kind of turtle you have.
3. The pet shop
There are over three hundred species of turtles all over the world which makes turtle identification a bit of a challenge especially for beginners. However, you don’t have to be an expert in turtles to be able to find out what kind of pet you have with you. There are all sorts of ways to get started with turtle identification.
If you haven’t really tried taking care of a turtle before, it’s best to start with your local pet store. You are sure to find someone there who can help you identify the turtle that you got and even obtain relevant tips on how to take care of your pet.
Go to your local bookstore and buy a field guide to turtles. Try the Peterson’s guide, as the Petersons guides are often the most prolific. These guides are especially helpful in identifying which kind of turtle you might have come across in the wild (in which case, simply leave it where it is. It is happy there).
The best way through which to start to identify which kind of turtle is through its size. Snapping turtles and leatherback turtles are relatively larger than most of their kind. There are also turtles that will stay small for the rest of their lives such as the painted turtles and box turtles. To identify which kind of turtle many taxonomists use size as a starting point.
One of the many distinctive traits that will help you identify which kind of turtle you have is the shell. The shell’s color also varies across different species. Some turtles have olive-colored shells, some have green ones and there are also those that have spots or painted markings on them. The painted turtle, for instance, has beautiful painted designs on its shell and underside. By looking at the shell you can easily identify which kind of turtle you have or at least have a good idea what it is. The shape of the shell should also be able to give you a head start.
Another way to identify which kind of turtle you have is by looking at its neck. There are turtles that have relatively longer necks. Box turtles, for instance have long necks that stretch far out of their shells. A snapping turtle, on the other hand, has a neck so short that it could not go outside the shell. The neck is a part of the turtle that should also give you a better idea on the type of turtle you’re taking care of. Special markings are also found in this body part.
If your turtle has flippers instead of feet, you probably have a sea turtle. Look at your pet’s appendages to find out what kind of turtle you have. Aquatic turtles have webbed feet while land turtles don’t have flippers. If your turtle’s toes are not webbed, make sure not to place it in water because it’s highly possible that it won’t be able to swim. Not many land turtles can actually swim.
It’s important for you to identify which kind of turtle you have for you to be able to give it the right kind of attention it requires. There are over 300 species of turtles but thankfully, each one of these kinds have their own special markings to help you tell one from the other.