Softshell Turtle Care guide & Info

softshell turtle white bg

You walk to the pet store with the idea that you are going to come back with something very exotic!

As soon as you enter it, you see this beauty sitting in a huge aquarium, and you are stuck with it! Who wouldn’t really with that shiny, spiky but smooth dark carapace and those flipper limbs?

You decide that you are taking it home with you and approach the storefront only to hear that it is sold. You are heartbroken, but the owner assures you that there is a new stock approaching. You smile, but you cannot wait. Hang in! 

Before you walk your “oh so exotic!” friend home, here is everything (yes, every little thing that you need to know about it so that you can be an excellent caretaker and a great friend to it!) We can see that smile returning eh!!

Softshell turtles need a great place to dwell

Contrary to public opinion, a softshell turtle is not too hard to manage and to be raised as pets. What is comparatively tricky is to be able to afford huge aquariums to be able to house them.

A single soft-shelled turtle will require at least 100 gallons of aquarium space to live. Any extra space is a bonus and always welcome. The water and the aquarium must at all times be kept immaculately well so that nothing (not even plants) can harm their soft shells as potential hazards.

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In a world where we generally experience space crunches, managing a place this large could well be your very first challenge. If you can meet it well, here is a list of all other things that you will need to keep in mind as you ready your home for a new member.

You remember your friend pet shop owner has promised you that he is holding one of these aside for you! Hurray!!

softshell turtle

Soft-shelled turtles are touted to be highly evolved amphibians

Experts are of the firm opinion that turtles with softer carapaces are uniquely over evolved. They are hardy, and that is perhaps one of the main reasons why they are capable of flourishing even in the toughest of habitats within their geographical range.

Softshell Turtle Appearance

The soft-shelled turtle is a lovely looking creature. It has a flat and leathery carapace that sits atop flipper kinds of limbs. It has sharp claws that can tear skin, a long neck that can is capable of lashing out violently to hurt predators as well as unskilled human handlers.

The head is powerful with fleshy lips, and well-developed jaw and sharp teeth that can give you a serious nip to send you to the emergency! We want to warn you.

Within their geographical range, the turtle’s carapace’s softness can vastly vary. The various colors of it can be

  • Tan
  • The lightest shade of brown (earth)
  • Dirty gray
  • Darkest black

The carapace can feature blotches, flecks, or can be leathery smooth. The head and neck of some of the species can have patterns like stripes on them.

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softshell turtle hatchling

Softshell Turtle’s Size

The female of the species grows to gargantuan sizes. The longest that is recorded is about 24 inches. Males, on the other hand, grow up to only half that size. The longest that has been registered for a male soft-shelled turtle across the family is 11 inches.

Here is why we want you to rethink your decision to take a soft-shelled beauty home

  • Soft-shelled turtles can grow up to enormous sizes. The largest one is around a whopping two feet!
  • The turtles have a longer life expectancy in captivity, which is only slightly longer than what it is in the wild. They can easily score half a century!!
  • They are extremely territorial and very aggressive by nature. You cannot house more than one soft-shelled turtle within one tank.
  • Big size plus aggression is a dangerous combination. In some cases, they have attacked their keepers too!!

Let’s say you did weigh all the pros and cons and went ahead with your decision; then this is all that you must know:

No standard tanks for them, please!

Soft-shelled turtles cannot be precisely categorized to be territorial, but they have the potential to become aggressive towards species and subspecies that they do not take kindly to. This means that they can swiftly become bullies and also monopolize food and space.

They can intimidate the cohabitants even if they do not physically assert themselves. On the other hand, they are also prone to severe injuries on their soft carapaces if the other species turn out to be physically asserting. The adage of prevention is better than cure stands true here.

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Why is a captive-bred pet more reasonable than a caught from the wild one?

A captive hatchling is used to artificial living conditions right from the time of its birth. The scare of parasite carrying and diseases are less, and they are considered to be less aggressive too.

Substrate and filtration in the Softshell Turtle tank

Soil is an essential constituent of the aquarium. Give the stones and pointed tank decorations a pass since they can hurt the soft tissues in its softshell. The soft-shelled turtle generally scoots in the sand, as a result of which its shell’s skin is continuously exfoliating along with any bacteria or fungus that may have gathered there.

Without the soil as exfoliate, the parasites and the microbes will enter its system, making it fatal. Strong filtration is an absolute necessity for a healthy and active soft-shelled pet.

Softshell Turtle Feeding

Insects, fishes, and worms, both alive and dead, are suitable for these buddies. They are game even for the readymade turtle food that is commercially available. And don’t even worry about the size of it being too big; their shearing jaws and sharper teeth will make it all good in a moment.

And then we hear your pet is already here!

Awesome! You went ahead and got yourself one. Here’s all the luck in the world. May the universe conspire in your favor! Bear hug*