HOW TO CARE FOR AUSTRALIAN FRESHWATER TORTOISES
Indoor Tanks: The Rock Pile:
One essential for a tortoise tank is at least one good pile
The tortoises need a pile of rocks or stones which rises above
water level because:
(a) they need support when surfacing for air,
(b) they like to climb out of the water occasionally,
(c) their instinct leads them to wedge themselves between rocks
at night and while they are sleeping, for protection.
Rocks should be well balanced so that they do not fall on the
tortoises, and they should be smooth, preferably water-worn,
from a stream or river so that they donot damage the plastrons.
Using silicone sealer, the special glue used in making aquariums,
it is possible for the tortoise keeper to build a custom-made
rock pile for the aquarium, with caves and crevices for the
pets to hide in. Otherwise you must rebuild the rock pile each
time after you have cleaned the tank. Make sure a more or less
horizontal or slightly sloping surface of rock, rises above
the water level in the tank.
Half of a clean earthenware plant-pot makes a good tortoise-cave:
break the pot vertically, down each side. Clean, smooth, mortar-free
bricks can also be used.
Tortoises cannot swim backwards. Ensure that there are no places
in the tank where they might get stuck underwater and drown.
If ever a tortoise does appear to be drowned it may be revived
by holding it so that any water runs out of the lungs, keeping
it warm and giving artificial respiration. This has been known
to work successfully.
Indoor Tanks: Water Level:
Water level should not reach the top of the aquarium in case
the tortoises climb out and try to escape while the cover is
off. Also, it is hard to build a rock pile this high. In a 12
inch high (30 cm high) tank, for example, the water fills over
two thirds of the tank.
Indoor Tanks: Water Conditioning:
Before the animals are placed in their new home their water
must be conditioned. In the wild, their environment is often
a little brackish, so add about one rounded teaspoonful of common
IODISED table salt per 23 litres (5 gallons) of fresh water.
It is very important that calcium must also be added to the
water. Tortoises need plenty of calcium for their shells,
which are really a tortoise's skeleton. Powdered calcium may
be obtained from pet shops (it, is often given to puppies and
kittens) or from pharmacists, where the brand name is "D.C.P.".
Add one heaped tablespoon of calcium powder to a 46 litre (ten
gallon) tank. Don't be alarmed when the
water goes cloudy white - the calcium does take several hours
to settle, and the cloudiness is harmless to the tortoises.
Do not forget to add the calcium and salt every time you change
the water when cleaning the tank.
If you live in an area where the tap water is fairly heavily
chlorinated (such as parts of South Australia), then it is best
to let the water stand in a container for a few days before
putting living creatures into it.
There must always be a "neutralizer block" in the
tank with the tortoises. Their excretions.make the
water acid. The neutralizer block counteracts this,
and at the same time slowly releases valuable minerals and some
calcium into the water. 1 have used HYKRO "Nutra
Vitalizer" and HYKRO "Tonic Block", both of which
are very good.
PAGE 1 PAGE 2 PAGE
Indoor Living Quarters: PAGE
4 PAGE 5 PAGE
6 PAGE 7 PAGE
8 PAGE 9
Outdoor Living Quarters: PAGE
Feeding: PAGE 11
Hibernation: PAGE 12
Ailments: PAGE 13
Behaviour and Intelligence: PAGE
How Old is the Tortoise? PAGE
Dangers: PAGE 15
Reproduction and Sexual Differences PAGE
References: PAGE 16