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Softshell turtles (basics)



There are 3 species of Softshell turtles in North America, and 23
species worldwide.

Softshell turtles are easily identified by their leathery carapace.
Instead of tough scutes, their carapace is covered by soft, leathery skin.
Their feed are paddle-like and webbed, and the snout usually is snorkel-like,
which helps them breathe while floating just below the surface.

Different species of Softshell can found in most types of freshwater,
but usually they prefer sandy or muddy bottoms.

Softshells do bask, but are easily scared back into the water. Depending
on species, basking is more common or rare.
Like with other turtles, basking and drying out helps keep their carapace
free of parasites and disease.

Females grow significantly larger than males.

While Softshells often get reasonably tame, they are not petting animals.
Their sharp jaws can inflict painful wounds.

Being active swimmers, captive Softshells must be kept in large aquariums.
A long tank is recommended, to give them some room to move.
The water should at least one foot deep. More is better. Strong filtration
is a must.

The most common ailment I have seen in Softshells is "hole-in-the-shell"
disease. It is usually a bacterial or fungal infection and must be treated
with topical application of medication or antibiotic injections. Occasionally,
a turtle will rub against logs or rocks in the tank and get injured.
Since most Softshells spend much more time in the water than most hardshell
turtles, they are harder to treat with topical medication. To avoid
shell problems, keep the water sparkling clean. 

Most Softshells like to bury into the bottom, so sand or fine gravel should
be provided for them. If you use gravel, you can use an undergravel filter
with the tank. This seems to work well for a number of people.

Required water temperature and water quality depend on the species.
I currently don't have a Softshell turtle care sheet. If you have questions,
I will be happy to find out answers and add them to this page in the future.

In the wild, Softshells will eat anything they can catch: fish, small crabs,
crayfish, careless birds, snails, frogs.
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