Terrapin and turtle information and care sheets

Handling


correct handling for turtle / terrapin


As a terrapin owner, it should be known that these pets are meant to be enjoyed by observing, rather than handling. While it may be entertaining for us to watch our terrapin run around on the floor "exploring", the fact is that they feel safer in the water, as that is their comfort zone, and they are likely stressed and looking for somewhere to hide. A terrapin startled while basking will always head for water first, if possible, by taking them out of that environment, they do not have the option of returning to someplace where they feel safe.

Another reason to avoid handling is the nasty bite some of them can give. It doesn't need to be a snapping turtle to deliver one, either. While snappers and softshells can, and will bite if given the chance, a bite from any large terrapin such as an adult cooter can be quite painful. This should also be remembered if you decide to feed by hand, especially as terrapins often miss the food whether by accident or intention. It may be fine when they are small, but if you have a larger terrapin miss its aim and get your finger instead, then chances are that it will hurt! Sharp claws, especially hind ones, are also something to watch for when handling as some terrapins may struggle when picked up, and tend to flail and kick in an escape attempt.

If you must handle your terrapin, do so with care, and remember that these animals will be quite happy just to be looked at and not handled. They are no less entertaining this way, and chances of disease being spread is also reduced as terrapins can often carry salmonella as a natural gut bacteria. As such, you should always wash your hands with antibacterial soap after handling.