Terrapins/Freshwater Turtles at Barna Vet Clinic

The Terrapin originates from Southern and Central USA. Terrapins are most active during the day time and are omnivorous – meaning they eat both meat and vegetables. When young, juvenile terrapins eat a mostly carnivorous diet although their diet becomes more herbivorous as they grow into adults.

Lifespan: 15-25 years. Sexual maturity is reached between 3-8 years.

Size: Can grow up to 12-13 inches or 30cm.


Terrapins require a semi-aquatic habitat that has access to land and a basking area. A tank or ‘terranium’ is a suitable type of housing. The size and the volume of water in the tank should allow ample space for swimming and maintaining good water conditions. The depth of the tank should be 1.5-2 times the length of the turtle’s carapace or straight carapace length (SCL) – this involves measuring the length of the shell from front to back. Cleaning of the tank should be performed on a weekly basis and gloves should be worn.

Equipment Required

*Filtration is required as Terrapins produce a high level of waste. Filter media such as sponges should be removed and cleaned very 4-7 days and should be replaced every 3 months.

*Heating. A water heater will be required to heat the water to maintain a temperature of 28-29 C.

*Basking area and basking light to heat the area to 29-32C (for juvenilles) or 21-26C for adult Terrapins.

*UV light (Reptile UVB) is required to ensure healthy shell growth and hardening. These bulbs should be changed every 6 months and should be placed inside the tank/terranium.


Juvenille terrapins should be fed a diet consisting of 60-70% animal matter including: turtle pellets, earthworms, mealworms, crickets, small fish (avoid use of raw or cooked meats) with the remainder of the diet consisting of vegetables and leafy greens. Supplements should be used to ensure that requirements for Vitamin A and calcium are met especially in juvenilles. Adult turtles require approximately 70% vegetable matter (chopped leafy greens such as kale, romaine/red leaf lettuce and shredded carrot) and 30% turtle pellets.

Further Information On Terrapins/Freshwater Turtles

More information – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrapin or contact Barna Veterinary Clinic directly if you have any further questions on Terrapins/Freshwater Turtles and their healthcare.

Registered Company: Independent Vet Care Ireland Ltd | Registered Number: 633559 | Registered Addr.: 2 Shelbourne Buildings, Crampton Avenue, Shelbourne Rd, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 D04 W3V6