Juvenile River Cooter Turtle
Age Group: Juvenile
Common Name: River Cooter Turtle
Scientific Name: Pseudemys concinna
Description: Juvenile River Cooter turtles are approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches in size.Their carapace is dark olive with highly visible concentric markings that fade with age. They have a lightly colored yellow plastron and a striped head and neck. Their markings are generally vertical, parallel and they lack the “C” shape on their second side scute that is a characteristic of the river cooter.
Origin: River Cooters are found mainly in the rivers throughout Mississippi, Alabama & Louisiana.
Lifespan: This species can live upwards of 25 years
Habitat in captivity: Juvenile river cooters can be started in a 10-gal aquarium setup. Keep in mind that a properly cared for juvenile turtle will grow quickly and you will soon need to upgrade its habitat until its eventual home in a large pond. These turtles are fantastic swimmers and prefer a sandy substrate. Provide them with deep water to swim in and lots of live plants. 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 Coil Bulbs 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 low to mid 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: River Cooters are herbivores. 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).
Size at adulthood: River cooters range from 10 to 14 inches at adulthood with females generally on the larger side.
Community Turtle: This species is a fantastic communal species and will bask with their cage mates. Remember that for every inch of turtle add 10 gallons to their enclosure.