The African sideneck turtle, commonly known as the African helmeted turtle or side-necked turtle, is a marvelous species of turtle belonging to various parts of Africa. These turtles are known for their unique physical appearances and characteristics. The African sideneck turtle has a long neck which they tuck sideways inside their shell. This article will provide all the relevant information on the African sideneck turtle and its specific care requirements. We will also discuss their dietary requirements and enclosure setup.
The African sideneck turtle, commonly known as the helmeted or side-neck turtle, is a species belonging to various parts of Africa. The African sideneck turtle has a dark-colored shell with intricate markings. These turtles are moderate in size and can grow up to 6-8 inches in length. The African sideneck turtle is aquatic but also requires a basking spot to regulate their body temperature.
|African sideneck turtle, African helmeted turtle, and side-neck turtle
|Aquatic, require water and a basking area
|Males: 6-8 inches in shell length with females being slightly larger
|Can live for several decades with proper care
|Omnivorous: aquatic plants, insects, small fish, fruits, or vegetables
|Females lay eggs on land and require suitable nesting area
|Mostly aquatic, active swimmers, occasional baskers
|Glass or acrylic aquarium with both water and basking area
|Water: 75-85°F , Basking: 90-95°F with temperature drop at night
|Diet in Captivity
|A varied diet consisting of commercial turtle pellets
|Handle with care, and support the shell and limbs properly, avoid excessive handling to minimize stress
|Shell rot, respiratory infections, and vitamin deficiencies
|Moderate to high care level
The African sideneck turtle or Pelomedusa subrufa is a species of freshwater turtle belonging to sub-Saharan Africa. These turtles are known for their unique appearance and physical trait, making them popular pets in the reptile community. The African sideneck turtle has a smooth oval-shaped shell and a long neck that retracts into the shell.
The African sideneck turtle can be found in small moving water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and marshes. These turtles are also omnivorous and consume a similar diet to pink belly sideneck turtle and yellow bellied slider consisting of aquatic plants, insects, small fish, and invertebrates.
They have a docile temperament and require minimum handling, making them excellent reptiles to house as pets. Providing proper care and nourishment allows these turtles to live for several decades, providing you a constant companionship for several years.
The Life of African Sideneck Turtles in the Wild
The life of the African sideneck turtle in the wild is intriguing and diverse. These turtles are found in various parts of sub-Saharan Africa and generally locate themselves near slow-moving water bodies, such as lakes, rivers, and marshes. The African sideneck turtles spend most of their time in water and thus are aquatic beings. They also tend to bask on logs and rocks which is important to regulate their body temperature.
The African sideneck turtles are skilled swimmers and have adapted themselves to spend most of their life underwater. These turtles are equipped with webbed feet and streamlined shells, which help them navigate underwater.
In the wild, they have a diverse diet consisting of aquatic plants, small fish, insects, and other invertebrates. These turtles are an important part of the aquatic ecosystem and help maintain nutrients and maintain balance in the aquatic habitat.
How Much Does an African Sideneck Turtle Cost?
The cost of an African sideneck turtle depends on various factors, such as its age, size, genes, and appearance. On average, the cost of a baby African sideneck turtle can range between $50-$100, depending on the store or breeder you bought them from. You should also note that the cost of a large or grown African sideneck turtle will be higher compared to an average-sized turtle. The appearance of the turtle also plays a huge role in the overall cost of these turtles. African sideneck turtles with a unique appearance and distinguishable morph are priced higher than an average sideneck turtle.
You should also consider the initial cost of owning an African sideneck turtle with the ongoing cost of providing it with a suitable enclosure and regular veterinary checkups. The ongoing costs slowly add up and should be kept in mind before making the final decision of owning a sideneck turtle.
You should also buy an African sideneck turtle from a reputable pet store or breeder to ensure they are in great condition and health. It will cost you more to maintain and treat an unhealthy sideneck turtle than to purchase a healthy one.
Editor’s Note- You can also opt for adopting an African sideneck turtle than purchasing one instead. Adopting a sideneck turtle will be cheaper than buying one from a breeder or a pet store. Just make sure they do not have any medical issues and are in great shape.
What Does an African Sideneck Turtle Look Like?
The African sideneck turtle exhibits a range of colors and markings, thus adding to its captivating appearance. These turtles have a smooth oval-shaped shell which helps them navigate underwater. These shells are generally dark in color and are dark brown or olive-green in appearance. The shell of an African sideneck turtle also consists of intricate markings and patterns, which consist of irregular spots, streaks, and mottlings. The color of these intricate patterns depends on various factors such as their genetics and habitat.
The head and the limbs of an African sideneck turtle are dark in color and feature shades of brown and black. They also have a unique neck that is elongated and can be retracted sideways into the shell. The neck of a sideneck turtle consists of a variety of intricate markings, including stripes and spots. Lastly, they have bright-colored eyes with a yellow iris, which brings a huge contrast when placed on their dark-colored heads.
You should also know that the appearance of an African sideneck turtle changes with age. Young sideneck turtles have a more vibrant and pronounced coloration compared to fully grown sideneck turtles. Adult sideneck turtles tend to develop a darker and more subdued morph compared to young hatchlings. The change in appearance is associated with sexual maturity.
Temperament and General Behavior of an African Sideneck Turtle
The African sideneck turtle is known for their docile and calm temperament. These turtles are non-aggressive and can be easily handled by their owners. However, each sideneck turtle has a unique personality, and their temperament can vary depending on different factors, such as diet and environmental conditions. Some African sideneck turtles are known to be skittish and shy than other sideneck turtles.
Talking about their general behavior, African sideneck turtles are primarily aquatic creatures. These turtles spend most of their time swimming underwater. Sideneck turtles are adept swimmers they are equipped with webbed feet and streamlined shell, which helps them navigate underwater with grace and agility. The African sideneck turtle spends most of its time swimming underwater to hunt for food and explore their natural environment.
The African sideneck turtles briefly come out of the water to absorb sunlight. These turtles will sit to bask in sunlight as it helps them regulate their body temperature. Basking helps them to absorb sunlight and promotes healthy shell and bone growth. It is common to see them stretch out their legs and neck after a long swimming session while basking.
When it comes to interacting with humans, African sideneck turtles can act shy and hide in their shells. Let your pet adjust to its natural surrounding and build up trust along the way. Handle them gently and do not make any sudden movements, as they can identify you as a potential threat. It is important to remain calm and hold them gently during the handling session. If you push your African sideneck turtle too much, it can even lead to an accidental bite.
Diet and Water Requirements For African Sideneck Turtles
The African sideneck turtle has a specific diet and water requirement to maintain their health and overall well-being. These turtles are omnivorous, and their diet consists of plant and animal matter. Talking about their diet in captivity can include commercially available turtle pellets as their primary food source. These turtle pellets are designed in a way to provide your African sideneck turtle with all the essential nutrients and vitamins.
You should feed your sideneck turtle with a varied diet to meet all its nutritional needs. Their diet should be supplemented with plant matter, such as collard greens, kale, and leafy greens. You can also feed them fruits and vegetables occasionally. Note that fruits should only be given as an occasional treat, as they are rich in sugar content.
Water is an equally important part of your African sideneck turtles diet. Sideneck turtles require access to clean, chlorine-free water at all times. A large enough water area should be provided inside the tank for swimming and exploration. The tank should be deep enough for your African sideneck turtle to completely submerge in and shallow enough to reach the surface for breathing. You should also regularly change the water inside the tank to prevent bacteria build-up and prevent any health issues.
Temperature and Heating Requirements for African Sideneck Turtles
Maintaining proper temperature and providing the right heating is crucial for the health and well-being of your sideneck turtle. The African sideneck turtles are ectothermic and require sunlight to regulate their body temperature. It is crucial to maintain the right temperature gradient inside the enclosure to support thermoregulation. The temperature inside the enclosure should be around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature can be achieved using different equipment, such as heating pads and heating lamps. You can also place a thermostat inside the enclosure to keep a note of any temperature changes and make changes accordingly. There should be no drastic temperature changes occurring inside the enclosure as it can affect the health of your pet.
You should also provide a basking spot inside the enclosure for them to dry off after a long swim. The basking area should have a temperature gradient of 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit. This can be achieved by placing a heating lamp on top of the basking area. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature changes accurately.
In addition to heating requirements, your African sideneck turtle requires access to UVB lighting. UVB rays are crucial for your sideneck turtle and help them absorb calcium and prevent them from developing medical concerns such as metabolic bone disease. Equip the tank with a reptile-safe UVB bulb and follow the directions to place it inside the tank. You should also replace the old UVB bulbs after every six months.
How to Set up a Tank for an African Sideneck Turtle?
Setting up an appropriate tank for your African sideneck turtle is crucial for its well-being. You should know about the tank size, water depth, and substrate to provide them with a comfortable environment to live in. The tank size should be large enough for your sideneck turtle to swim around comfortably. A 10-gallon of water per inch should be appropriate for a single African sideneck turtle. A 6-inch turtle will require a minimum of a 60-gallon tank to live comfortably. You can even opt for a bigger tank to provide them with extra space to swim around and explore.
You should also opt for a tank made out of glass or acrylic for your African sideneck turtle. Glass and acrylic tanks are known to hold water perfectly. The tank should also come with a secure top lid to prevent your sideneck turtle from escaping. Ensure the tank does not have any sharp edges to prevent your pet turtle from getting hurt.
You should also consider the water depth while purchasing a tank for your sideneck turtle. The water depth should be twice the size of the turtle’s shell. African sideneck turtles are aquatic creatures and spend most of their time swimming, they need an appropriate water depth to swim and dive in.
Use a substrate that is safe for your sideneck turtle and easy to clean and replace. Some suitable substrate options include smooth gravels, river rock, and bare-bottom tanks. Avoid using small stones as they can be ingested by your pet and cause digestive issues such as impactions.
You should also have a basking spot inside the tank for your pet turtle to dry off. African sideneck turtles require basking areas to regulate their body temperature, which is crucial for their health.
Lastly, equip the tank with UVB lighting, which is essential for the growth and overall well-being of your pet. UVB lighting allows your pet turtle to metabolize calcium and prevent diseases such as MBD. You can also place some decorations, including aquatic plants, rocks, and driftwood inside the enclosure. These decorations will provide hiding spots and a natural environment for your sideneck turtle so it can live comfortably.
Cleaning Requirements for African Sideneck Turtles
You should provide a clean and healthy environment to your African sideneck turtles. Regular cleaning is required to prevent bacteria build-up and bad odor from the tank. You should regularly replace the water inside the tank to maintain proper hygiene. Remove the water partially from inside the tank every week, and should be replaced with fresh dechlorinated water. This will help remove accumulated waste and bacteria from the tank and maintain your pet turtles’ overall health.
You should perform a deep cleanse, where you remove all the decoration from inside the tank and clean it with reptile-safe disinfectant consecutively. Use a soft brush or sponge to clean away any debris or algae accumulation inside the tank. Rinse all items and dry them with a paper towel before placing them back in the tank. You should also wait for the tank to dry before placing your African sideneck turtle back into the terrarium.
Editor’s Note- Harsh chemicals should not be used to clean the tank as they can deteriorate the overall health of your pet turtle.
Lastly, clean and maintain the filter system inside the tank regularly. This involves cleaning and rinsing the filtration equipment to prevent clogging and for the filtration system to work perfectly. Regularly check the filtration rate to ensure optimal water circulation. Follow the detailed instructions given by the filtration manufacturer to provide proper hygiene inside the tank.
How to Take Proper Care of an African Sideneck Turtle?
Providing proper care and nourishment is essential for the growth and overall safety of your African sideneck turtle. Provide an appropriate-sized enclosure for your pet turtle to swim around comfortably. You should also maintain the proper temperature and humidity levels inside the tank. Ensure the tank has a secure lid, which will prevent your African sideneck turtle from escaping.
Offer a well-balanced diet consisting of both plant and animal matter. Providing a varied diet is essential for the growth and development of your pet. You can also offer them fruits and vegetables to provide them with all the essential vitamins and nutrients. Maintaining the water quality is another huge aspect to provide proper care to your African sideneck turtle. Replace the water regularly and ensure the filtration system inside the tank works perfectly.
Ensure you provide your pet turtle with enough hiding and basking spots inside the tank. The tank should also be equipped with UVB lighting, which is essential for your pet to metabolize calcium in its body. You should also practice safe handling and keep the handling sessions to a minimum. African sideneck turtles are shy and do not like to engage in handling sessions. Handle your pet gently and avoid making any sudden movements to avoid causing them any stress.
You should also schedule veterinary visits regularly to check the overall health and well-being of your pet turtle. If your African sideneck turtle shows any signs of illness, such as lack of appetite, parasitic infections, and lethargy, you should take them to a vet immediately.
Size and Growth Rate of African Sideneck Turtles
The African sideneck turtle exhibits a moderate growth rate and can grow up to 6-8 inches in length. They are comparatively smaller in length than the Peninsula cooter turtle. Young sideneck turtles are typically around 1-2 inches in length when they hatch from their eggs. With proper care and nourishment, your pet slider can grow to 6-10 inches in length.
The growth rate of African sideneck turtles depends on various factors, such as their diet, genes, and health. Young turtles exhibit a much more rapid growth rate compared to adult sideneck turtles. It is also important to note that individual African sideneck sliders may exhibit a different growth rate within the same species.
You should provide your sideneck turtle with proper nourishment and a well-balanced diet to promote its rapid growth. African sideneck turtles should be fed a diet consisting of plant and animal matter to provide them with all the essential vitamins and nutrients. You should also provide the right temperature and humidity levels inside the tank to prevent them from falling ill.
Maintaining cleanliness and hygiene inside the tank also plays a major role in the overall size and growth of your pet. Equip your tank with a UVB bulb as it helps your turtle to metabolize calcium. Providing basking spots is also essential for thermoregulation which can hinder the growth rate of your pet.
The Lifespan of an African Sideneck Turtle
The lifespan of an African sideneck turtle can depend on various factors such as its genes, diet, and environmental conditions. With proper care and nourishment, these turtles can live up to several decades inside a suitable habitat.
On average, an African sideneck turtle can live up to 20-40 years in captivity. However, with proper care and apt conditions, some turtles have been reported to live for 50 years and more. You should keep a note that the lifespan of your pet turtle depends on its health, diet, and environmental conditions. Provide them with a well-balanced diet and an appropriate environment to live comfortably.
Breeding in African Sideneck Turtles
You should be aware of the breeding process to provide the appropriate care and environmental conditions for your sideneck turtle. The African sideneck turtle reaches the age of sexual maturity in 4-5 years, although individual variations can occur among the same species. The breeding process generally occurs in the warmer months, and the females exhibit nesting behavior where they gather substrate to lay their eggs.
You should provide a suitable nesting area with soft soil and the right temperature for your female turtle to lay its eggs. The incubation period for eggs is around 60-80 days depending on the temperature and humidity levels inside the tank. Proper care and nourishment are required for a successful reproduction cycle.
Common Health Issues in African Sideneck Turtles
Like any other pets, even African sideneck turtles can fall sick from time to time. You should be aware of the common health issues in African sideneck turtles to provide proper care and seek the right treatment. Some common health issues in sideneck turtles include respiratory infections, shell infections, and parasite infestation.
Respiratory infections can occur due to improper temperature and humidity levels inside the tank. Shell infections can occur if the water quality is poor and there are inadequate basking areas inside the tank. Parasites such as mites and worms can also infest your turtle’s body. Some signs of parasitic infections include lack of appetite, lethargy, and weight loss. If you notice any of these signs, you should visit a vet immediately.
Pros And Cons of African Sideneck Turtles
|Potential for Aggression
|Easy to Care for
|Requires Adequate Space
|Potential Health Issues
|Hardy and Resilient
|Requires Specialized UVB Lighting
Does the African sideneck turtle get along with other pets?
African sideneck turtles are usually undemanding and have a docile temperament. Although, it is not recommended to keep more than one male turtle inside the tank. This can lead to territorial aggression, especially during the mating season.
Are African sideneck turtles dangerous?
No, African sideneck turtles are not dangerous and have a calm and docile temperament. These turtles are shy and do not like to engage much with their owners. Although, if a sideneck turtle is agitated or stressed, it might try to bite you if you handle them incorrectly.
The African sideneck turtles are fascinating creatures with a distinguishable appearance. They have long necks that they tuck in their shell. These turtles are also docile and have a calm temperament, thus making them quite popular in the reptile community.
Ensure you provide them with the right temperature and humidity levels to promote rapid growth. You should also maintain proper hygiene and take care of all their requirements to provide them with a healthy and comfortable environment to live in.