Hatchling Northern Red-Bellied Turtle
Age Group: Hatchling
Common Name: Northern Red-Bellied Cooter or Northern Red-Bellied Turtle
Scientific Name: Pseudemys rubriventris
Description:Hatchling Northern Red-Bellied turtles are approximately 1 to 1 ½ inches long and display much more green and red than their adult versions do. Hatchlings have a shell that is yellow with a green swirl pattern on it. Their skin is a dark green with cream or yellow stripes on the head, neck and feet. Their underbellies display the red coloration that they get their name for.
Origin: This species originates from Delaware,Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Lifespan: Northern Red-Bellied turtles can be expected to live 15-20 years if properly cared for.
Habitat in captivity: Hatchling Red-Bellied Turtles require a 10-gallon aquarium to start with 3-6 inches of water. 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. In order to ensure that your turtle is thriving, you need to offer the following necessities; :
- UVB Light –This can be provided by a Coil Bulb or a Mercury Vapor Bulb and is a requirement because without UVB light, the turtle is unable to properly metabolize calcium and therefore will have some major issues later in life with its shell and bones.
- Basking Light and UVA – UVA is required to keep the turtle’s circadian rhythm in proper working order. This should be on for 10-12 hours during the spring and fall, and 12-14 hours during the summer months. Basking temperatures of the high 80s to low 90s for hatchling turtles, without which the turtle could be prone to a respiratory illness and perish.
- Heat – Just as a basking spot is important to keep the turtle warm, the water temperature should be kept at 75 to 80 degrees. Depending on what the ambient water temperature in your house is, a submersible water heater may be required because, even though these turtles are hardy and can survive winters under the ice, in nature many young turtles do not see a second summer due to temperature issues.
- Filtration – To avoid constant water changes, a good water filtration system is necessary to clean out the excess ammonia and other toxins in the water.
- Habitat Décor – As long as your turtle is provided with a stable basking spot and some plants either artificial or live, there are very few other necessities when it comes to cage design. Other cage decorations such as ornaments, substrate and Driftwood will definitely enhance your turtle’s life and their aquarium will be much more attractive to look at.
Diet: As hatchling Northern Red-Bellied Turtles are more carnivorous than their adult counterparts, commercial foods such as Zilla or ReptoMin are well formulated for their overall growth and health. Feeder fish, worms, krill and mealworms make wonderful additions to give your turtle a little variety in their diet, however, things such as shrimp and crayfish should be given sparingly. 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).
Size at adulthood: Northern Red-Bellied turtles can reach 16 inches in diameter and weigh up to 8 ½ pounds.
Community Turtle: Northern Red-Bellied turtles are fairly docile and do well in community ponds with turtles of a similar size. A good rule of thumb is to add 10 gallons for every inch of extra turtle you have.