The following guidelines can be used for both indoor and outdoor
housing of adults and juveniles.
Water temperature: 26 °C - 28 °C (80-83 °F)
Basking temperature: 32 °C - 35 °C (90-95 °F)
Enclosure (Adult & subadult):
Although they inhabit relatively deep bodies of water
Pelomedusa lack the large webbed hind feet observed in the
pond turtles. Instead, Pelomedusa prefer to walk about the
bottom of the water area and are best maintained in enclosures
with a water depth no greater than 1.5 times the length of the
carapace, such that they can easily reach the surface while
standing on the bottom of the water area. Should the water
depth be greater than 1.5 times the SCL shallow water resting
areas need to be provided to avoid fatigue and accidental
drowning. Enclosures can be relatively simple and bare or can be
It should be noted that Pelomedusa do spend prolonged periods
of time dug into the land area of the enclosure and drag a
considerable amount of sand/soil back into the water. The filter
should be setup in such a way to reduce the risk of sand being
drawn into the impeller and causing physical damage to the pump.
Pelomedusa are very shy baskers and you may not catch
them in the act. UV-B light and basking areas should be provided
at one end of the enclosure as well as sufficient hiding areas and
visual barriers to avoid aggression if kept in groups. Basking
preference varies by individual as well as the origin (if wild
caught) as Pelomedusa from tropical regions tend not to bask as
much as those from subtropical regions.
If you intend to breed Pelomedusa an estivation period should be
considered and a nesting area must be provided for the females.
Pelomedusa will dig quite
deep to conceal their eggs
and therefore the substrate
should be 1.5 times the SCL
of the largest female to
provide sufficient depth.
A mixture of 2:1 peat to
sand has proven acceptable
for my female P. subrufa.
DIY - Plywood / EPMD Pondliner Tanks, Ponds, Incubators, and Filters
Custom built plywood tanks, ponds, filters, incubators, and even homemade turtle food can save you big
money if you are willing to put in the time and effort. Check out the DIY sections for step by step
instructions for "how to" build custom accommodations for your turtles & tortoises.
Below is the 18 gal. nesting box leading out of a
90 gallon breeding tank. Substrate is 22 cm
A 30 gallon nesting tank houses one or two gravid
females during the nesting season. Substrate is 22
A 30 gallon with a nesting area that is too
shallow (10 cm); all eggs were laid in the water.
Hind foot of adult (left)
and yearling (above).
NOTE: Pelomedusa are aggressive
towards other turtles and should not be
housed with any other species as they
will attack and injure or kill other turtles.
Likewise housing of different sized
individuals is not recommended nor
should two males be placed together as
they will fight.
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