Eastern Snake-necked Turtle – environment
In outdoor enclosures, the water and air temperature is variable and cannot be precisely controlled. This replicates a more natural situation for the turtles and will encourage the natural hibernation cycle during colder periods. Eastern Snake-necked turtles thrive in water temperatures between 20 – 25°C. When temperatures begin to drop below this in the cooler months, turtles will typically become less active and they will eat less and their movement around the enclosure will be reduced as their metabolic rate slows.
The ideal temperature range for an enclosure is between 20 – 35°C and a temperature gradient should be created within the enclosure, providing both warmer and cooler areas. Temperature gradients are created by providing a basking area in direct sunlight or under a UV heat lamp that is large enough to allow turtles to move away from the heat source to a comfortable temperature. While the air and water temperature cannot be precisely controlled in outdoor enclosures, it is important to still provide adequate basking area for the animals in an area that has direct sunlight but also areas of shade throughout the day. Consider where shade will be created throughout the day and provide a basking area in an appropriate area that has plenty of sunlight.
The site selection for an outdoor enclosure must consider protection from predators.
The ideal water temperature range for an indoor enclosure is between 20 – 25°C. Enclosures should provide a temperature gradient, with warmer and cooler areas. This can be achieved by using a heat lamp to one side of the basking area during the day. The basking area directly under the lamp should be around 35°C but the land area should be large enough for turtles to move away from the heat source to cooler temperatures if they choose.
As Eastern Snake-necked turtles also require UV lighting, the heat lamp and UV light source can be combined or separate. The light should be 20cm away from the turtle with no glass or perspex to block UV rays. UV lights and any other form of lighting used in the enclosure should be turned off overnight to replicate the natural day and night cycle. It is recommended to use a timer to control lighting times.
Temperature is best measured in the enclosure by using a temperature gun that can be pointed at areas to identify the temperature. The basking area temperature should be a maximum of 35°C. Ensure that the basking area is large enough that turtles can move away from the hottest area to areas that are slightly cooler. In areas where overnight temperatures are low, a water heater may need to be used to ensure water temperature does not get too cold.
In an indoor enclosure where the temperature is kept constant, turtles will most likely remain active year round and will instead continue to eat and be active throughout the year. Turtles that do not hibernate will typically have increased growth rates and reach their mature size more quickly than animals that hibernate. While hibernation in an indoor enclosure can be encouraged by lowering the temperature of the water and enclosure, this must be done precisely and for the correct period of time to ensure turtles remain healthy. Encouraging hibernation in indoor enclosures is not recommended for schools.
Eastern Snake-necked turtles require good ventilation. Turtles kept in outdoor enclosures will have adequate ventilation. Turtles kept in aquariums must have an open top or a fly screen top to provide adequate ventilation. It is recommended to always use a fly screen top to reduce the risk of objects accidentally falling into the tank. A metal framework can be used as a structure for fly screen attachment on the top of the tank.
Humidity is kept at an adequate level by having a body of water within the enclosure. Humidity will not need to be created or monitored where turtles have access to an amount of water that they can swim in.
Outdoor enclosures must have plenty of sunlight so that artificial lighting or a UV heat lamp are not required.
Indoor enclosures require a UV heat lamp in the basking area. This should be turned off at night to replicate the turtles’ natural day and night cycle. A timer should be used to ensure that lighting is switched on and off daily.