Turtles keep turning up at RSPCA SA–Knowledgeable homes sought for three Murray short-necked turtles

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Flaviemys purvisi

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Oct 28, 2017
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September 6, 2020.

Anyone seeking a pet with a long lifespan, engaging personality and entertaining behaviour may like to look beyond common domestic pets. Three Murray short-necked turtles came into RSPCA South Australia’s care earlier this month, and are still waiting for new homes.

Their arrival at the organisation’s Lonsdale animal shelter follows the recent intake of two Eastern long-necked turtles. The pair had endured substandard living conditions when seized by an RSPCA South Australia inspector last month. One of the turtles was missing both hind feet, while the other one was missing one hind foot. The cause of these injuries was unknown, but it is possible that another turtle had bitten the feet off – a shocking thing to occur, but not uncommon when turtles are overcrowded.

Happily both turtles made full recoveries and found a good home together.

Now the hunt is on for homes for Teddy, Mikey and Leah, all of them surrendered to the RSPCA by their owners. Mikey and Leah are good mates, so need to find a home together.

Murray short-necked turtles are one of three turtle species found in the River Murray. These species are not listed as endangered, however all wild turtle populations in SA are in decline.

Although these turtles do not require a wildlife permit to keep, RSPCA South Australia’s reptile expert Craig Dawe warns that they are not low maintenance pets.

“We’re looking for people who know how to keep these really appealing creatures happy and in good health – or is prepared to put in the time to research their needs,” Mr Dawe said.

“We also want them to have a forever home, remembering that these turtles can live for up to 30 years.”

Key factors in caring for Murray short-necked turtles include:

 Quality housing – turtles are active swimmers, so the bigger the better. A large aquarium or a large indoor or outdoor pond are options.

 An omnivorous diet consisting of specially formulated turtle feed which can be supplemented with fresh water plants, vegetables (eg: lettuce, carrots, capsicums and beans cut into bite-size pieces), small freshwater fish such as whitebait and crabs

 A warm, light-filled platform to bask on, large enough so the turtle can completely climb out of the water.

According to Mr Dawe, failure to maintain water quality and provide opportunities for exposure to ultraviolet light are two common causes of ill-health in pet turtles.

“Like all reptiles, turtles need specific temperature zones to regulate their body temperature,” Mr Dawe said.

“You will need a submersible aquarium heater to maintain the optimum range of 20 to 25 degrees, and an aquarium thermometer to regularly check water temperature.”