How To Take Care Of Cooter Turtles? | Right Way

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Sharing is caring!

The friendly gesture and low maintenance nature of cooters never fail to amaze the owners. Hence why, the species also tops the priority list of the newbies. But in any case, an elaborated guide on raising these turtles is mandatory. Here is a brief insight on how to take care of cooter turtles:

  • Housing: minimum 125-gallon tank, dock, lightings, water filter, and tank heater
  • Basking temperature: 80 – 90° F
  • Water temperature: 75 – 80° F
  • Ambient temperature: 80° F
  • Diet: Worm, insect, fish, shrimp, carrot, endive, lettuce, leafy vegetables, apple, pellets, supplements

Go through this article if you are struggling with your cooters. I hope this write-up will solve any issue you face with the turtle housing, diet, or health.

Cooter Turtle Care: Infographic

Want to get a printable version of this infographic? Click here! [If you want to use this infographic on your website, please link back to this post as the source!]

How To Take Care Of Cooters?

The care sheet of cooters can be divided into two folds. First, you need to know the basics about the species, for example, size, behaviour, lifespan, etc. This information will help you understand the compatibility between you and the pet.

Next, you have to research the needs of the species. Then you will get the idea of whether the turtle is within your maintenance range or not.

In the following article, I have added a glimpse into the cooter’s nature and background. Also, I have discussed this species’ requirements and cheat sheet in detail.

Cooters: Species Summary

Cooters are one of the largest turtle species in North America. They are hard-shelled aquatic turtles. The name cooter is derived from Kuta, meaning turtle in Bambara and Malinke.

The species shelters about 8 different subspecies under the term. Such as,

  1. River cooter
  2. Alabama red bellied cooter
  3. Florida red bellied cooter
  4. Northern red bellied cooter
  5. Texas river cooter
  6. Peninsula cooter
  7. Rio grande cooter
  8. Coastal plain cooter

Each subspecies has distinguishing physical characteristics and comes from different native habitats. Though the cooters have basic dissimilarities depending on subspecies, they can share the same care sheet.

Cooter Appearances: How Do Cooters Look?

Cooters have a unique, ridge-like carapace. While the shell is shallow on the edges, the scutes are considerably wider at the center. Such design gives the carapace a steep, curvy shape.

The upper shell color and pattern of cooters totally depend on the subspecies. Here is how to identify cooters with carapace,

Cooter SubspeciesShell ColorPattern Color
River cooterElongated and flattened shell in brown to black colorYellow, brown, and black spots on carapace
Alabama Red Bellied CooterDark green to dark brown or blackRed to yellow vertical stripes on upper shell
Florida Red Bellied CooterDark brown to greenRed mark on plastron
Northern Red Bellied CooterOliveRed vertical stripes on carapace
Texas River CooterDark greenBlack and yellow pattern on the shell
Peninsula CooterDark greenGreen and yellow vertical marking on skin
Rio Grande CooterOliveAlternating yellow and black patterns

The plastron of cooters is dark shaded, somewhere between yellow, orange, and red. This bottom shell has patterns or markings of orange, red, and black. The plastron borders might have a pinkish appearance depending on the subspecies.

Generally, the heads and legs of cooters are of the same color. They are patterned with yellow or orange parallel or vertical stripes.

Cooters have thin webbed feet with sharp claws. While the webbed feet aid in swimming, the claws come in handy digging dirt.

Cooter Natural Habitat: Where Do Cooters Live?

Cooters are native to Northern, Southeastern, and Southwest America. The species is widely available in many states Of the USA. The natural habitat range of the cooters depends solely on their subspecies. For example,

Cooter SubspeciesNatural Habitat Range
River cooterRiver cooters are native to Eastern to Central USA and range from Northern Ohio to Florida Panhandle. These turtles are also widely available from Eastern Virginia to Eastern Texas.
Alabama Red Bellied CooterAlabama red bellied is endemic to the Alabama state.
Florida Red Bellied CooterFlorida red bellied cooters are found in both Texas and Southern Georgia.
Northern Red Bellied CooterNorthern red bellied cooters are endemic to the Northern United States, especially Massachusetts. Their habitat also ranges from  New Jersey to South Carolina.
Texas River CooterThe native habitat of the Texas river cooters is focused on Texas.
Peninsula CooterUnlike the Florida red bellied cooters, the Peninsula cooters are only found in Florida.
Rio Grande CooterRio Grande cooters are native to Texas and Southern United States. These subspecies also live in the Mexican water bodies. Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas are the natural habitats of the Rio Grande cooters in Mexico. 

Cooters are basically freshwater turtles and live in rivers, swamps, marshes, or artificial lakes. In short, these creatures prefer clean, slow stream pools with sandy or rocky bottoms.

Cooter Size: How Big Do Cooters Get?

Cooters are one of the largest turtle species in Northern America. While born, the hatchlings are not more than 1- 1.5 inches with an average weight of 5.4 to 14 grams. These babies grow into young adults pretty soon.

The adult cooters have an average carapace growth of 12 – 16 inches. Some subspecies, for example, Rio Grande cooters, only get 7 – 10 inches big. On the contrary, the river cooters experience growth over 16 inches.

The largest cooter turtle ever recorded had a carapace length of 17 inches. As per the reports, it was a Suwannee cooter.

Go through the expected size chart of different cooter subspecies,

Cooter SubspeciesExpected Size
River cooter9 – 16.5 inches
Alabama Red Bellied Cooter12 – 14 inches
Florida Red Bellied Cooter10 – 15  inches
Northern Red Bellied Cooter10 – 12.5  inches
Texas River Cooter12+ inches
Peninsula Cooter10 – 15 inches
Rio Grande Cooter7 – 10  inches

N.B. Your turtle can have a growth different from the above chart. It is totally healthy as long as your pet is active and eats timely. Sometimes genetics or any other factor might mess up the desired development in cooters. However, you can always consult a vet without any doubt.

The male and female cooters exhibit sex dimorphism. Unlike many other species, the female cooters are larger than the males. However, the male cooters are flatter and have elongated foreclaws.

Again, the male cooters gain sexual maturity earlier, at 3 – 4 years. On the contrary, females can get involved in reproduction after 6 years.

Cooter Lifespan: How Long Do Cooters Live?

The lifespan of cooters depends on their subspecies. For example, Alabama red bellied cooters or Rio Grande cooters have a shorter lifespan of 15 -30 years. In contrast, the northern Red Bellied cooters can live more than 50 years.

On average, the cooters live 30 – 40 years and even more in captivity. To this date, the oldest pet cooter was 44 years old.

Here is the longevity of different cooter subspecies,

Cooter SubspeciesExpected Lifespan
River cooter40 years
Alabama Red Bellied Cooter15 – 20 years
Florida Red Bellied Cooter30 years
Northern Red Bellied Cooter50 years
Texas River Cooter30 – 40 years
Peninsula Cooter30 years
Rio Grande Cooter15 – 30 years

Apart from the subspecies, different other factors decide the life expectancy of cooters. For example, surroundings, diet, care level, health condition, etc. The turtles will live more years if they can avail the best care.

In captivity, the owner takes full responsibility for the cooters. He builds the perfect habitat and provides regular meals or emergency medical care if needed.

On the other hand, cooters in the wild are on their own. They have to hunt for meals and fight off predators to survive each day. On top of that, there is no medical treatment in the wild, and they rely on nature to heal from any disease.

Comparing these two scenarios clarifies why the captive cooters live a longer life than the wild ones. However, a pet turtle might experience premature or unexpected death even after you provide it with the best possible care.

Hence, you can not actually calculate how long it will live when it comes to pets. Instead, you can make an educated guess at its longevity from the lifespan chart and plan accordingly.

Cooter Behavior & Temperament: Is A Cooter Turtle A Good Pet?

Cooters make excellent pets as they are low maintenance, easy-going, and docile. These turtles are curious by nature, and it is a pleasure to watch them playing. Besides, the cooters need the least attention, so the owners do not have to stress about their care.

Cooters are not aggressive though they have a minor territory issue. If you provide these turtles with enough space and food, they will share a habitat with most species. So, community habitat is not a problem with cooter turtles.

Again, handling these turtles is not a tough job. Though the cooters prefer hiding from the world, they will quickly get along with the owners. Yet, it will be best if you do not touch these creatures frequently or interrupt their mental peace. Instead, leave the cooters alone and be gentle while handling them.

How Long Can A Cooter Turtle Stay Underwater?

While during activity, cooters can be in the water for 45 minutes or one hour. They can stay underwater for 4 – 7 hours at a stretch on a sleep cycle. Nevertheless, these turtles can stay underwater for more than 2 months if the temperature falls.

Cooters love hiding underwater and playing there. However, these turtles can not stay there forever. Cooters have to come to the surface to replenish their lungs with fresh air.

While in water, cooters continue this breathing cycle via their cloaca. In other words, they absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide with their butt muscles. After a one-hour session underwater, a few seconds on the surface is enough to recharge their lungs.

Again, while sleeping, cooters enter into a slow metabolic state. As a result, their oxygen consumption rate drops, and they can spend more hours underwater without coming up. The cooters can be underwater for up to 7 hours during a sleep cycle, depending on the habitat temperature.

Finally, the cooters can stay underwater for more than 2 months if they are hibernating. Turtles slow down their metabolism and enter into a sleeping state during a hibernation process. These creatures do not eat and barely drink in that time frame.

While hibernating, turtles spend little energy on their activity or heart rate. Hence, they can survive months on the reserved oxygen.

Cooter Tank Size: What Tank Size Does A Cooter Turtle Need?

Choosing the right tank size will help you raise your turtles with less struggle. Cooter turtles grow up to 17 inches. It means they would probably require a spacious habitat when they reach adulthood.

Cooter hatchlings are born 1 – 1.5 inches. Hence, accommodating the babies in a 10 – 20 gallon tank or plastic tub will do just fine. But you can not keep the hatchlings in that small habitat for long.

Cooters outgrow themselves fast, and within a few years, they will develop a carapace of 8 – 12 inches. You must transfer the young adults to a 100 – 125 gallon enclosure for better accommodation.

Now, as the turtles grow, you have to keep upgrading tanks. In most cases, managing adequate space indoors for large tanks is a hassle for the owners. For such reasons, experts suggest raising adult cooters in an outdoor location.

The enclosure for an adult cooter turtle should be 48 inches wide, 24 inches deep, and 12 inches tall. Considering the habitat size, aiming for an outdoor home will be better for both the turtles and the keepers.

However, with an indoor habitat, you do not have to think about the predatorial attack on the turtle. But when building an outdoor enclosure, you need to keep in mind several factors. For example, the pond must be fenced and covered with chicken wire to protect the turtles from birds, raccoons, or other predators.

Also, the climate is a huge factor in an outdoor habitat. If you live in a harsh cold region or the land gets flooded every year, an outside enclosure is not a wise choice then.

What Should You Put In A Cooter Turtle Tank?

Now that you have adequate space for your cooter turtle make the necessary arrangements to decorate its home. Usually, any cooter requires the following supplies in its enclosure,

  • Basking dock
  • Heating Lamp
  • UV Light
  • Water filter
  • Tank Heater

Let’s discuss the significance of these supplies.

Basking Dock: Do Cooters Bask?

Like all aquatic turtle species, cooters bask every day. A commercial basking platform or a homemade dock serves the purpose.

The dock is mandatory in any cooter habitat due to obvious reasons. These turtles spend most of their time swimming and come to the platform to soak in the heat.

The absence of a dock means the pets have to go without basking and be in the water all the time. It is an unhealthy practice for the cooters, and it may cause them cold or other infectious diseases.

Cooters usually grow up to 17 inches as an adult. So you have to go for high-quality basking stations for these turtles. Commercial models like Penn Plax reptology turtle topper, Zoo Med Dock, and pond turtle dock suit large turtles. However, to DIY a platform, you can use logs, foam, metal sheets, tiles, etc.

Usually, a full-grown cooter weighs around 8 – 11 pounds. When selecting the dock, ensure the platform can carry this minimum weight.

Besides, the station should be large to accommodate the pets but must not cover the whole enclosure. The experts say the dock should not exceed one-third of the habitat. Also, you have to make sure that water does not wet the platform and it stays dry.

Moreover, the edge of the basking platforms should not be pointy. Cooters can get injured with the sharp sides, which might eventually turn into shell rot or skin infection.

Finally, a ramp should connect the station to the water body. As you know, cooters can not jump. So, they will not be able to get on the dock without the ramp.

Go through this buying guide on a large turtle basking dock if you are still confused.

Cooter Heating Lamp: Do Cooter Turtles Need A Heat Lamp?

A heating source, natural or artificial, is a must for cooters. In the wild and an outdoor habitat, the sun radiates heat. But for an indoor enclosure, a heating lamp is required. However, cooters might survive days without this bulb, which is highly detrimental to their health.

Cooters rely on the outside heat to keep their bodies warm and dry off their bodies after a long swim. So, the lack of a heating source will force these turtles to settle into a slow metabolism. It means the pets will be less active and spend more hours sleeping or resting. An unprepared slow metabolic state is not always healthy for cooters because it makes them vulnerable.

On the contrary, providing a proper heating source will make the cooters thrive. They will continue swimming in the water and taking turns on the dock. In short, turtles need heating lamps.

These bulbs are generally installed over the basking platform to distribute the heat throughout the enclosure. Also, maintaining an ideal distance between the light and the dock is necessary to avoid overheating. Here is the ideal distancing chart,

Heating Lamp WattageDistance Between Dock And Heating Lamp
Heating Lamp WattageDistance Between Dock And Heating Lamp
50 watt6 – 8 inches
75 watt7 – 9 inches
100 watt9 – 11 inches
100 watt++11 – 14 inches

Cooters usually need the heating bulb on during the day. It is best to turn the lights off during the night to promote the turtles’ healthy sleep cycle. However, if you live in a cold region, you might have to keep the bulbs on even during the night.

Owners often use the household lamps as an alteration of the heating bulbs. But let me tell you. Those low-quality lights can not fulfill the purpose, and your pet cooters will suffer in the long run.

Nevertheless, turtle bulbs are available and come at a reasonable price. You can read my previous write-up on the basics of buying reptile heating lamps to get a basic idea.

UV Light: Do Cooters Need A UV Lamp?

UV rays promote growth and good health in cooters. Hence, a source of UV is essential in their habitat. The sun is the natural provider of UV exposure. But as the sunlight is inaccessible in an indoor habitat, an artificial UV setup is required.

A UV light spreads off UVA and UVB rays. While UVA supports the cooters mentally and boosts their activity level, UVB influences their physical growth.

Calcium is necessary to build a solid bone and shell structure in cooters. They need vitamin D3 for this calcium absorption and body development.

The vitamin D in the diet is not sufficient enough to promote calcium absorption. That is why these turtles need an external source for vitamin D production in their body.

UVB rays boost vitamin D production in cooters and help calcium absorption. Hence, eventually, these turtles grow a healthy body structure. Besides, the UVB rays improve the turtles’ digestion system and metabolism.

Lack of UV rays is definitely harmful to the cooters. It will stress the turtles and lead to MBD and undesired carapace growth. There are reports of baby turtles dying due to insufficient UV exposure.

Cooters require UV light 10 – 12 hours a day, and you can keep the bulb off during the night. Lamps with a UV percentage of 2.5% to 5% are recommended for aquatic turtles. While setting up, maintain a distance of about 12 inches to 18 inches between the bulb and the basking station.

Get a more detailed guide on turtle UV lamps from this article.

Cooter Water Filter: Do Cooters Need A Water Filter?

Water quality matters most to the aquatic turtles like cooters as they spend most hours swimming. Compromising with water hygiene will only invite bacterial growth in the enclosure. Eventually, they fall victim to infectious diseases, which can take a horrible turn.

Cooters can make the water really messy as they do all kinds of activities there, from eating to pooping. So imagine how hard it would be to filter out the filth from the water. Installing a filtering device in the tank can ease the job.

A quality filter extracts anything harmful from the water and makes it reusable. Therefore, setting up a tank filter minimizes any risk of infection or fungal attack. The upgraded filtering devices offer three-layer filtration, mechanical, chemical, and biological.

Besides installing a water filter, you have to perform some other norms to maintain water hygiene in the cooter enclosure. For example,

  • Replace 25% of recirculated water every week.
  • Change the water entirely once a month and clean the enclosure thoroughly. The enclosure water might look cloudy after the wash. Here are the reasons why the tank water is cloudy and how to fix it.
  • Clean the filter once in 6 months or whatever the label says.

Using tap water is totally harmless for the cooters if it contains low-level chlorine and ammonia. Higher content of these elements can irritate the turtle skin and eyes. In such a case, pouring conditioner into the water will balance the harmful chemicals.

So, the turtle tank water quality is linked to many things. If you want hygiene in the enclosure, you must set up a standard tank filter and perform the weekly or monthly cleanup. Check out this link for the budget tank suggestion for cooters.

Cooter Tank Heater: Do Cooters Need A Tank Heater?

Cooters can not tolerate cold. So, keeping only the basking dock warm is not enough. Rather, you have to divide your focus on both the dock and the water.

Cooters spend most of their hours swimming in the water. They will struggle to continue their daily activities if the water is chilly. Again, the turtles tend to hibernate in severe cold. Heating the water is the only option to eliminate such possibilities.

I have seen owners mixing hot water to reserve heat in the habitat. But this is not a feasible solution and can be harmful to the turtles. On the contrary, installing a tank heater is a safer and more considerable option to warm up tank water.

The upgraded heaters offer on-point services. These devices track down the overall weather and then set up the required temperature for the enclosure. High-quality heaters are a bit pricey but consider them a long-term investment. Check out my top picks to get a hot deal on cooter tank heaters.

You have to select the heater wattage considering the aquarium size. You would need two 300 watts water heaters to cover a 100 – 150 gallon cooter tank.

The pond heaters are more expensive and not always compatible. As a result, the outside cooters learn to cope with the natural weather. However, in most cases, the owners transfer the turtles to an indoor setup during severe colds or changes in weather.

Suitable Temperature And Humidity For Cooters

Cooters are ectothermic, so the external temperature plays a significant role in their lives. Hence, after installing the lights and the heater, you must set these devices to a suitable temperature range.

The ideal temperature range for cooters is,

Water TemperatureAmbient TemperatureBasking Temperature
75 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit80 degrees Fahrenheit80 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit

Besides temperature, it is crucial to maintain a suitable humidity range in the habitat. Experts suggest aiming for at least a 70% humid habitat. Remember, a dry enclosure can make the turtle scutes flaky, while excessive moisture can increase the risk of bacterial growth in the terrarium.

It is wiser to install a thermometer and hygrometer to track down the overall temperature and humidity in the cooter enclosure.

How To Set Up A Cooter Turtle Habitat?

Cooters are semi-aquatic turtles, meaning they live on land and water. Hence, experts emphasize setting up a dry basking area alongside the water pool. In addition, you can recreate the wild environment by installing a second attached enclosure as a land area. However, the commercial docks will also serve the purpose.

Now many of you might wonder whether to put substrate in a cooter turtle’s enclosure or not. Cooters prefer a sandy bottom, but these creatures will do okay even without a substrate. So instead, layer up the base with medium-sized gravels, pebbles, and large rocks to mimic the wild environment.

Live plants can be an excellent addition to the cooter habitat. They increase the appearance of the enclosure and make it more appealing. Also, live plants serve as hiding spots for the cooters and evening snacks. These aquatic plants also work as a source of extra oxygen in the enclosure.

However, maintaining the live plants with cooters can burden the newbies. Instead, you can add plastic plants to the habitat to give it an aesthetic vibe in such a situation.

Cooter Diet: What Do Cooters Eat?

Cooters are omnivorous as they eat a variety of diets, including animal protein and plants. These species nurture different food habits at different ages. For example, hatchlings and young turtles prefer feasting on animal matter. On the other hand, the adults choose vegetables as meals.

Hence, the diet of baby cooters includes insects and worms primarily. Examples are cricket, mealworm, bloodworm, silkworm, earthworm, dubia roaches, locusts, etc. The hatchlings are not much interested in eating plants.

However, the young turtles eat both veggies and animal meat. So besides insects and worms, these pre-adults can have mice, shrimp, feeder fish, green leafy vegetables, kale, red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, carrot, algae, collard green, squash, corn, etc.

Pellets are a popular diet option for cooters. They are rich in nutrition and contain no harmful chemicals. Yet, experts discourage adding more than 45 – 50% pellets in the meal.

Again, the adult cooters are primarily herbivores. They will occasionally hunt down or eat animal protein, but vegetables are their staple.

Cooter turtles also eat fruits. You can offer them apples, pears, and berries once a week as a treat. However, feeding the turtles fruits every day is not a wise decision as they are high in sugar and low in nutritional value.

Apart from vegetables, meat, pellets, and fruits, you have to dust the cooter’s meal with supplements like calcium and vitamin D. Supplements are necessary to prevent any risk of mineral deficiency and promote healthy development.

Sprinkling the food with multivitamins once a week and calcium thrice a week will work. Turtles are not exactly fans of the supplements. But with the right trick at hand, you can feed them any form of these additional nutrients. Here are 8 ways to offer calcium to your turtles.

How Much Should You Feed A Cooter?

Cooters are opportunistic feeders, and they keep on eating as long as the food is available for them. For such an instinct, there is always a risk of overeating. As you know, overeating for a long time can cause obesity in cooters and might lead to liver or kidney failure.

Hence, as an owner, you have to refrain from overfeeding the cooters. Now determining the diet portion can be confusing for the newbies. But with the following two tricks, you can plan the turtle meals like a pro,

1. The 15-minute Rule:

A cooter eats the required amount of food in 15 minutes. So, you have to provide your turtle with more than enough food and let it eat for 15 – 20 minutes. Then remove the leftovers, and your turtle is all recharged again.

2. The Head Method:

Take a bowl similar to your cooter’s head if it were empty. Now fill it with the meal and offer it to your turtle. Feeding your turtle with the head method is more convenient as it eliminates food waste. However, you have to keep upgrading the container size with the growing age of the turtle.

How Often Should You Feed Cooters?

Like the meal quantity, you have to follow an ideal feeding routine for cooters to avoid overfeeding. Generally, this schedule changes with the growing age of the pets. For example, hatchlings require more nutrition for building body structure and immunity. Hence, feeding the babies every day is mandatory.

Again, the juveniles and the young cooters are in the developing phase. Yet, their nutritional requirement is not like the babies. Thus, for them, every other feeding schedule works.

Finally, adult cooters have less appetite due to their old age. Also, they do not need minerals as much as the young turtles.

Therefore, a once every three-day feeding routine suits this category.

Cooter Potential Health Issues And Home Treatments

Improper care can make cooters vulnerable and open to several diseases. In addition, severe sickness often deducts years from the turtles’ lifespan. Hence, it is advisable to have prior knowledge of cooters’ probable health conditions and their treatments.

Some common diseases of cooter turtles are,

1. Hypovitaminosis

Vitamin A plays a significant role in skin protection and building immunity systems. An Imbalanced diet can cause vitamin A deficiency in cooters leading to hypovitaminosis. Turtles with this condition exhibit symptoms like swollen eyes, weight loss, mouth infection, respiratory illness, etc. Antibiotic medicine or shots with a vitamin A-rich diet can cure hypovitaminosis in cooters.

2. Metabolic Bone Disease

Improper UV rays set up in the enclosure causes Metabolic bone disease or MBD. Cooters can not produce enough vitamin D3 to absorb calcium without proper UV lighting. As a result, their skeleton structure stays underdeveloped.

Cooters with MBD undergo abnormal shell and bone growth. As a result, you will notice bumpy legs, jaw, bone, soft scutes, and irregular walking patterns in the sick turtles. Installing high-quality UV light and providing a balanced diet can aid in recovering the pets.

3. Obese

Overfeeding the cooters or filling up the meals with unnecessary items leads to obesity. Fat accumulation on necks and legs is the primary sign of obesity in cooters. Obesity often causes more severe conditions like kidney stones or liver failure.

Again, overfeeding protein causes pyramiding in cooters. Bumpy and discoloured scutes are the main symptoms of this disease.

Following a strict meal measuring technique and feeding schedule can prevent and cure obesity in cooters. If you are busy and can not stick to the feeding routine of the pets, install an automatic turtle feeder in the enclosure.

4. Infectious Disease

Turtles are mostly affected by infectious diseases, for instance, shell rot, respiratory illness, mouth rot, eye infection, etc.

Shell rot starts with only a scratch or a crack on the scutes. Next, the bacteria or fungus make its way into the turtle’s body through the narrow opening and live off the creature. Soon when the bacterial population thrives, you start noticing discoloured and slimy scutes on the cooter.

Shell rot is curable if one takes action at an early stage. Bathing the turtle with antibacterial and applying healing cream on the wound quickened the recovery process. Check this article to get details on possible shell issues of cooters and their treatments.

Another severe infectious disease is a respiratory illness. Usually, prolonged vitamin A deficiency leads to this condition.

Cooters suffering from hypovitaminosis have weak immune systems. As a result, bacterial attack on the lung makes them vulnerable and suffer more. If the respiratory infection goes untreated, it turns into pneumonia and permanently damages the cooters.

Apart from shell rot and respiratory illness, diseases like mouth rot and ear infection are common in cooters. Therefore, maintaining hygiene in the habitat can eliminate the risk of bacterial growth and infection in these pets.

5. Parasite Attack

A filthy and unhygienic habitat is the perfect home for parasites. These microbes and their larvae enter the turtle’s digestive system with water and food. Eventually, the pets exhibit signs of discomfort, such as vomiting, diarrhea, pooping blood, etc., when the parasite outgrows their population. Keeping the enclosure clean and deworming the cooter once a year can prevent this condition.

Cooter Breeding Care

Breeding the cooters in captivity is challenging and not for the newbies. In addition, mating can be stressful for the turtles and require extreme care and attention.

Usually, the male cooter gains sexual maturity by the age of 6, while the females become mature by 13. In the wild, the cooters get involved in mating 2 – 6 times a year and lay 3 clutches of eggs on average. Each clutch contains more than 20 oval-shaped eggs.

While breeding cooters in captivity, you must consider the turtles’ health. You can not put weak and diseased turtles for copulation. Instead, select a healthy adult pair and prepare them for the event by feeding well. You must keep the male-female ratio in the habitat at 1:5 for successful mating.

Separate the group after the copulation and wait for the gravid turtles to lay eggs. You have to surround the habitat with sand and moist soil so that the turtles can deposit their eggs there.

The mother turtles leave the nest right after laying eggs. In the wild, the eggs hatch naturally, but in captivity, the breeder has to intervene in the event. First, you have to collect the eggs and put them in an incubator.

It will take more than 3 months to hatch the eggs with the appropriate temperature and humidity. Usually, low range temperature (50 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit) produces male cooters and hotter temperature (75 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit) yields females.

Once the babies are out, put them in a well-arranged enclosure with a dock, lighting, heater, and filter. Feed the hatchlings a balanced diet and consult a vet for a further health check-up.

How To Choose Cooter Turtles?

If you have decided to buy a cooter, consider the following tips while shopping,

  • Observe the skin, scute and eyes of the turtles closely. Faded shells and fuzzy eyes often indicate disease in the turtles.
  • Do not buy turtles below 4 inches. Experts claim that little turtles carry salmonella bacteria.
  • Taking turtles from the wild is an illegal and punishable act. You must buy cooters from licensed pet stores. The cooter hatchlings cost $25- $50.


Cooter turtles are excellent pets and worth a shot, especially for beginners. Their care sheet is not complicated and is considered low maintenance. If you find any confusion, feel free to contact us or any expert.

Sharing is caring!

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


This site is owned and operated by Muntaseer Rahman. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.