Housing of the turtles

According to estimates, 200,000 turtles have been released into nature in the Netherlands. These turtles often starve slowly (over years). This takes so long because of a turtle’s slow metabolism. The turtles also pose a threat to the local flora and fauna. The problem is therefore enormous and reception capacity is therefore very important.

To ensure the well-being of the turtles, we believe it is important to take Brambell’s 5 freedoms as a basis for the well-being of the animals in our shelter. These 5 freedoms are internationally recognized as the basis for good well-being.

Relatively little research is done into the welfare of turtles compared to regular pets and farm animals. That also means that we know little about turtle behavior, physiology and the like. However, we are convinced that the mental well-being of the turtles is also very important. For example, it has recently been shown that fish have feelings when they see another fish being killed. Such things are increasingly being demonstrated and the emotional and general development of animals often turns out to be much greater than previously thought. This will certainly also be the case with turtles.

“Ethological needs” have been described for many pets. These are behaviors that an animal must be able to exhibit in order to be in good well-being. Turtles will certainly also have “ethological needs”, just like all other animals, but unfortunately these are not precisely described. In any case, it is important that they live in a challenging environment.

Approximately 200,000 turtles have been released into the wild,therefore we need an enormous amount of shelter capacity.

Considering the climate in the countries where the turtles naturally occur (Mexico and North America), it is best to keep the turtles at a temperature of at least 15 degrees Celsius. During the warmer months, the turtles are housed outside. The turtles have access to 7 large ponds with a total of 150,000 litres of water. Between the ponds, pieces of sand and grass are provided where the turtles can sunbathe. There are also 4 observation ponds, 20 quarantine tanks and 2 filter ponds. We provide a varied environment, which also challenges the turtles. This way, we can give the turtles the best possible care. In winter, the turtles are housed indoors. They are divided into groups based on health condition. Here, they have plenty of water, places to sunbathe and good food. In this way, we can monitor the turtles well even during the winter months. We make sure the turtles are monitored by having them undergo a health check both before and after winter. With the help of a chip, we can identify the turtles and therefore also track their weight over time, for example. New turtles are quarantined and subjected to extra monitoring. They are also examined clinically and parasitically before being placed together with the other turtles.