One of my friends had brought a painted turtle, and he asked me how large an aquarium should he needed to get. I suggested that a turtle should have at least 10 gallons for every once inch of its body. For instance, a 12-inch red-eared slider will need at least 120-gallon tank. Then he asked me how fast do paint turtles grow? I knew that painted turtles could get up to 10 inches, but I didn’t know how fast they grew.
After researching through several journals and forums, I have the answer for how fast do painted turtles grow. My research led me to know that several factors played a role in how quickly a painted turtle can grow. In this article, I have tried my best to answer that query.
How Fast Do Painted Turtles Grow?
If criteria like water quality, diet and environment are met, then a captive painted turtle can grow anywhere from 2 to 4 inches in their first year. Then they grow about 0.5 inches every year till they get fully developed, i.e. 5–6 inches for a male and 4-10 inches for a female.
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Stages In A Turtle’s Growth
In this stage, the painted turtle will be of 0.75 to 1.15 inches long and 0.68 to 1.04 inches wide. They will require at least a 10-gallon tank to thrive.
Painted turtles are omnivorous, but as a hatchling, they are predominantly carnivorous. You can feed them commercial diets like feeder fish, crustaceans, and insects.
In this stage, the painted turtle hatchlings proliferate, i.e. 2-4 inches in a year. Their rapid growth requires abundant diet, so make sure you feed them as they will be in a feeding frenzy in this stage.
This stage in a painted turtle comes as they enter three years of age. For male, their sexual organs develop at the age of three to five, whereas females take six years to develop them. In this stage, they will be 60–100 mm. They will shift their diet from carnivorous to omnivorous during this stage.
The growth rate of an adult turtle will decline after it reaches this stage. They can grow about 0.5 inches a year when they are in this stage. They won’t be as energetic as they were before and will consume their energy by sitting idle or basking in the sun. You shouldn’t feed them daily in this stage.
What Are The Factors That Play Role In A Painted Turtle’s Growth?
Factors like feeding, genetics, sex, habitat and water quality are few of the many factors that play a role in a painted turtle’s growth.
Here I have explained how each factor plays in their growth.
Diet is the primary factor that decides how a growth curve will be in any species. Diet plays an essential role in a painted turtle’s growth, too. You need to feed a balanced diet which favors their fast growth and won’t make them malnourished.
Meat And Fish
Painted turtles are omnivorous, but in the early stage, i.e. from birth to 3 years, they prefer being carnivorous. Meat is an excellent source of protein to these hatchlings. They will feed on anything that has meat. In this initial stage protein is the macronutrient, which helps in building muscles and development of the shell.
Thus, you need to feed him meat, which will help in his growth process. However, any meat won’t work for turtle, and you shouldn’t provide such meats too.
Do not give your turtle the commercialized meat such as chicken or beef that you get in the meat shop. What your turtle needs are the meat pellets and other aquatic animals. Try your best to mimic the natural scenario and feed him like how a wild turtle would eat in nature.
Feeder fish like a guppy, killifish, mosquito fish, bluegills and bass make a tasty diet for your turtle. Or get some insects, earthworms and crustaceans from a local pet shop. These meat sources are like a wild turtle’s diet and will help your painted turtle grow naturally.
Vegetables Help In The Growth Of A Painted Turtle
A painted turtle hatchling requires calcium to develop strong bones and shell. So include veggies and fruits in his diet to supplement calcium from its early stage. Vegetables like cabbage, beetroot and broccoli are an excellent source of calcium. These vegetables not only help in building calcium in a turtle’s body but also give nutrients that are good for the heart and lungs.
Along with its rich nutrients, veggies contain fiber too. Infant painted turtles are greedy and will always be hungry. So, fibers in these vegetables will keep them full.
While feeding veggies, you need to know that several veggies have a high amount of oxalates in them. Oxalates are a naturally occurring molecule that binds with extra calcium and takes along the calcium out of the body while excreting.
A Turtle’s entire body comprises calcium, so they need to avoid oxalate-rich foods in their diet. Veggies like spinach, potatoes, rhubarb have a high amount of oxalate. So, oxalate-rich veggies will take out the calcium from a turtle’s body.
Feed him veggies like Bok Choy and Broccoli. These foods are rich in calcium and low in oxalates.
Yes, you can give your painted turtles fruits to eat, but they shouldn’t comprise over 10% of their diet. Fruits are nutritious to a growing turtle, but there are fruits that you shouldn’t feed regularly.
Avoid giving citrus fruits to your turtle because they contain citric acid, which disrupts the bowel movement of a turtle’s digestive system.
Eggs are protein sources to your growing painted turtle. They have fat in them too. A growing turtle is often energetic and will need the fat that is found in the egg.
Feed any kinds of eggs to your turtle, and he will happily nib on it. Cut the eggs into thin slices so he won’t have a problem while nibbling them.
However, there are a few things you should know before giving eggs. Don’t forget to check out this article.
Genetics too play the role on how fast and how big your painted turtle will be. In some turtle, no matter how much of a balanced diet you feed him, he won’t grow like they are supposed to. So genes play a role in determining the painted turtle’s growth rate.
In painted turtles, females are bigger than male. It is the law of nature for them to be like this. Female painted turtles in adulthood will be anywhere from 4 to 10 inches, whereas male painted turtles can grow from 5 to 6 inches.
A turtle needs clean and clear water to thrive. Polluted water hampers a turtle’s growth. Free your water from chemicals. Turtles themselves are messy species, but they need clean water to live. Use the filter to clean your tank water regularly.
I know it’s hard to replicate the same habitat that turtles in the wild have, but you can try your best to achieve it for your turtle. Grow some natural aquatic plants that your turtle can use for resting. Putting live plants and aquarium-safe rocks in tanks will give your tank a natural look and will make your turtle happy.
UV Rays are essential for turtle growth. Infant turtles like three things, i.e. eat, swim and sleep. So you will need a basking place in your tank where there will be enough UV rays for him to bask.
If a turtle isn’t getting enough UV ray, then his shell will get discolored and will have a negative impact on his health.
It is better to keep your turtle tank in a place where there’s enough sunlight for him to bask. Painted turtles get vitamin D from sunlight, which also regulates their body temperature as they are a cold-blooded animal.
During the winter, you can put UV lights, which will supplement the UV rays to your turtle’s habitat. You need to turn on the UV lights for at least 8 hours for it to work, as turtles require an exorbitant amount of UV rays while growing.
However, you need to be careful while placing the UV lights. Do not place UV lights too close to the basking area. It is because UV lights, when placed near, emit too much of heat and this heat can leave patches on your turtle’s shell.
Here’s a link to mercury vapor bulbs that emit both UVA and UVB lights. I switched to these bulbs a few months back and absolutely love it.
It comes with 6000 hours lifespan and a six-month warranty. So far, I’m very happy with the product!
For swimming space, your painted turtle needs at least 10 gallons of water during its infant stage. Once it grows to 2 inches, you will need a 20-gallon tank. Remember that every inch of growth in a turtle requires an extra 10 gallons of water for them to thrive.
So it will be a wise decision to get a bigger tank from the start. Also, the tank needs lengths need to be longer than its vertical height. This will give your painted turtle a lot more space for swimming.
Age is another aspect that affects the growth of a painted turtle. An infant turtle grows from 2 to 4 inches in a year; however, an adult painted turtle which is sexually active will only grow about 0.5 inches in a year.
How To Measure Your Painted Turtle?
While measuring a turtle, measure its plastron and not head or limbs. Measuring your turtle is a good thing to do because it lets you know whether your turtle is getting enough nutrition in his diet.
Here’s how you should measure your painted turtle.
First, you need to flip your turtle upside down. Please don’t do any sudden movement, as this will only scare your turtle and make him anxious. If you are doing it gently, your turtle won’t hiss or bite you. Take the measurement as quickly as you can.
- Have a measuring tape or scale ready and measure it from the tip of the plastron to the bottom.
- While measuring, you can also measure his carapace.
How To Determine A Painted Turtle’s Age?
As I have mentioned earlier, age plays an essential factor in determining how much your turtle has grown in a specific period. An infant painted turtle grows rapidly in its early years, whereas the growth rate drops significantly once it enters its adult phase.
That is why you need to determine a painted turtle’s age. Here’s how you can evaluate.
- Flip your turtle upside down. Sometimes turtles get anxious and might attack. That is why you need to be quick, careful and gentle.
- Check for an abdominal area in its plastron. There, you will see 8 sections. Look for 3rd section and this section has 2 halves.
- There will be rings on these halves. Count all the rings present in that single half.
- Subtract one ring from the total number of rings, and that is the age of your turtle.
You need to know that this isn’t the exact age of your turtle, but this will give you near about the actual age of your painted turtle. This method works only on the turtles in captivity and not in wild turtles as there might be a growth spurt.
Which Painted Turtle Grows Faster? Pet Painted Turtle Or Wild Painted Turtle?
The answer is, of course, a pet painted turtle. It is mainly because of two reasons, i.e. food and temperature.
Turtles are cold-blooded animals, and they cannot produce heat as we mammals do. That is the reason the turtle has to hibernate during winter. And during the hibernation period, their growth process is almost at a halt.
However, pet turtles are cared for by humans, and we love our pets so much that we provide them with every care and preferable environment for living. We use heater and UV lights in our turtle tank. Therefore, they don’t need to hibernate during winter, too. So, the right temperature can help pet painted turtle grow faster than a wild painted turtle.
Another reason for a pet painted turtle growing faster than wild turtle is because of food. In the wild, hunting for turtle is a herculean task, as you can tell it by how quickly they move. All fish is faster than them, so their diet comprises mostly plants in the wild.
For pet turtles, we provide them with meat and feeder fish, which in the wild could have been almost impossible for turtles to catch. This balanced diet comprising protein and calcium undoubtedly speeds up the process of growth in a pet painted turtle when compared to a wild one.
Final Words On How Fast Do Painted Turtles Grow
Now that you’ve been aware of how fast the painted turtles grow, you need to focus on his diet and the habitation that you can create in your home. Ensuring this will make your painted turtles healthy and robust.
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