Hatchling Florida Red Belly Turtle
Age Group: Hatchling
Common Name: Florida Red Belly Turtle
Scientific Name: Pseudemys nelsoni
Description:Hatchling Florida red belly turtles are approximately 1 inch in diameter when they are born. These turtles have long, slightly flat shells that peak in the middle. Their heads are dark olive with bright yellow striping. The top part of their shell (or carapace) is generally brown or black, while their plastron (or bottom) is rich pink or red in color. The color of their plastron is obviously where they get their name. When young, these turtles have a black blotched pattern down the middle of their plastron that fades with age.
Origin: As their name suggests, Florida red bellies originate from Florida. They can also be found in the Okefonokee swamp in southern Georgia west to Florida.
Lifespan: Florida red bellies can live upwards of 40 years.
Habitat in captivity: Hatchling Florida red belly turtles can be started in a 10-gal aquarium setup. Keep in mind that a properly cared for baby turtle will grow quickly and you will soon need to upgrade its habitat until its eventual home in a large pond. This species is a frequent basker and a great swimmer. They require a good basking area and water as deep as you can provide. In order to ensure that your turtle is thriving, you also need to offer the following necessities;
- UVB Light – UVB is necessary for your turtle to properly metabolize calcium and to grow a perfect shell. Without it, your turtle will suffer from crippling diseases and possible early death. These lights need to be changed every 6 months if you are using a Coil Bulb or every year with a Mercury Vapor Bulb
- Basking Light and UVA – UVA rays are necessary to encourage proper feeding responses and behavior in reptiles. By offering a basking light placed above their dry basking area, you are ensuring that your turtle can properly digest its food and maintain proper basking temperatures of the high 80's to low 90’s for hatchling turtles.
- Heat – In addition to a basking light, water temperatures should be maintained at the mid to high 70’s. This can be provided by using a submersible water heater
- Filtration – While you are raising your hatchling turtle, good water filtration is necessary to maintain a healthy living environment free of ammonia and other harmful toxins.
- Habitat Décor – This is up to the discretion of the owner. The enclosure can be as simple or complex as you want. It is necessary to provide your hatchling with a basking platform and live plants are a great additional water filter and basking medium. Other cage decorations can include substrate, ornaments and Driftwood.
Diet: Florida red belly turtles are strong herbivores, with younger hatchlings consuming a small amount of insect prey. There are commercially available diets available, like those from Zilla or ReptoMin. Along with that they can be fed aquatic plants (such as Water Lilies, Water Hyacinth, Duckweed, Anacharis, Water Lettuce, Water Fern, Pondweed, Water Starwort, Hornwort, Water Milfoil, and Frogbit), vegetables (such as Zucchini, Squash, Collard Greens, Beet Leaves, Endive, Romaine, Red Leaf Lettuce, Kale, Escarole, Mustard Greens and Dandelions) and some fruits (i.e. Banana). While your turtle is young, providing them with some insects is acceptable.
Size at adulthood: Males range from 7 to 9 inches while females are a larger 11 to 13 inches.
Community Turtle: This is a communal turtle species. A good rule of thumb when housing hatchling turtles together is to add 10 gallons of space for every inch of extra turtle.