Caspian Turtle

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Species group:

Other common names: Caspian Terrapin; Caspian Pond Turtle; Western Caspian Pond Turtle (Mauremys caspica rivulata)

Scientific name: Mauremys caspica

The basics:
This attractive turtle is widely-kept within its native range, and is appearing more frequently in the international pet trade as well. Active and fast-growing, Caspian Turtles are not an ideal choice for busy people with limited space, but make wonderfully-responsive pets for those able to accommodate them.

The Caspian Turtle is found from Croatia through much of the Mediterranean Region to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.

Caspian Turtles are very adaptable, and seem equally at home in lakes, swamps, ponds, brackish-water creeks, polluted urban rivers, canals, and numerous other habitats.

Appearance / health:
The smooth, oval carapace may be olive, tan, or black in color, and is marked with radiating yellow or cream-colored lines. Adults reach 25 cm (10 in) in length.

Well-cared-for Caspian Turtles are quite hardy, with captive longevities sometimes exceeding 40 years. Metabolic bone disease is common in animals that are not provided with ample calcium and/or UVB exposure. Sub-optimal temperatures, an inappropriate diet, or poor water quality can lead to fungal/bacterial infections of the shell, skin, and eyes, and other ailments.

Behavior / temperament:
Active and eternally hungry, these alert turtles quickly learn to beg for food as soon as their owner comes into view. Like all turtles, they dislike being handled and will bite when startled.

An adult requires a 75 gallon or larger aquarium. Commercial turtle tubs or koi pools are often better options. Caspian Turtles are best kept in bare-bottomed aquariums, as gravel traps food and waste material, and may be swallowed. They need a dry surface on which to rest and bask. Commercial turtle docks or cork bark flats wedged between the tank’s sides work well.

Powerful filters are necessary unless the enclosure can be emptied several times weekly. Removing your turtles to an easily-cleaned container for feeding will lessen the filter’s workload. Caspian Turtles require a source of UVB radiation. A water temperature of 74-82 F and basking site of 90 F should be maintained.

Pets should be offered a diet comprised largely of minnows, earthworms, crayfish, prawn, roaches, crickets and similar foods (a steady goldfish diet has been linked to kidney and liver disorders). Commercial turtle chow can comprise up to 50% of the diet. A cuttlebone should be available to supplement the calcium provided by whole fishes.

Mature males may be distinguished their smaller size, thick tails, and concave plastrons. Gravid (egg-bearing) females usually become restless. They should be removed to a large container (i.e. 5x the length and width of the turtle) provisioned with moist soil and sand. Gravid females that do not nest should be seen by a veterinarian as egg retention invariably leads to a fatal infection (egg peritonitis). The 4-10 eggs may be incubated in a mix of 1 part vermiculite to 1 part water (by weight) at 82-85 F for 55-80 days.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


low maintenance pet, busy lifestyle, Easy environmental needs


dull factor, Pretty dirty animals, lackluster pets


large dry area, Slow Caspian Turtle, dry spot

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