Animal Stories - African Side-necked Turtle


Animal-World Information about: African Side-necked Turtle

   With a naturally upturned "smile" and a pug nose, the African Side-necked Turtle has a great face!
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cynthia - 2010-01-17
I have a turtle. She was great but now she doesn't eat at all. She used to eat but not anymore! Now the only think she'll eat is worms and crickets instead of the turtle food that you buy.

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  • Barbara - 2011-01-15
    Hi Cynthia. I wrote a reply a little while ago, but either it was too long or perhaps I don't know how to click the "submit" button. :)

    I have an African mud turtle. I've had her for 10 years now, which puts her probably around 25 years old. In the 10 years I've had her, I have learned that she has periods where she just doesn't eat. She sleeps almost constantly, only coming out once in a while, mostly at night, to take sluggish gulps of air. As she reached her full size (now she puts on maybe a mm or 2 per year), this sleeping period happened less and less - lasts shorter durations, and isn't so dramatic. Now when it happens, she mostly sleeps, but will eat every few days. Then there are times when she'll never stop eating. She's always on the prowl for food.

    Ruby hasn't eaten turtle pellets in years. I tried giving her some aquatic turtle food. She took a bite and spit it out. :) To be sure she always has a supply of SOMETHING to eat, I keep the following critters in her tank: live bearing fish (right now she's got guppies in with her, but I've had platys, mollies, and swordtails), ghost shrimp, and snails. Once in a while I'll toss in a couple of crabs (rock or fiddler are the most common), but they can be expensive. She also likes to eat the bulbs of water lilies and the fat roots of aquarium banana plants. I've never seen her eat any other vegetation. The other live food she likes are super worms. I tend to keep some in a tupperware container with flukers cubes and oatmeal, peanuts, or fresh veggies to snack on and make for a healthy meal for Ruby. In the freezer I have frozen cocktail shrimp, frozen smelt, and bloodworm cubes. The point is, Ruby takes a wide variety of foods, and if she starts snubbing one, I'll switch to another. Chances are she needs something that she isn't getting from whatever she's currently eating.

    Good luck with your turtle. They are wonderful animals, and with care you'll have yours for decades. :) I'm looking forward to 20 more years with Ruby!
  • Austin Overholser - 2011-04-19
    My african sideneck will not eat either. My red eared slider will though. I was also wondering if you could help me with the amount of water in the tank and how much dry space.
  • Lyndee Holyoak - 2011-05-27
    She might want a little more variety. Try getting a different type of store bought food and see how she does. Its either that or she's sick,but if she's eating her live foods, then that's probably not the case.
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shannon - 2011-04-18
I have two red ear slider turtles they are both females and I just got an african side-necked turtle. They don't fight they all like it in their pool but I don't know how to tell if my african side-necked turtle is a female or male. I know how to tell with my red ear slider turtles.

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  • Charlie Roche - 2011-04-19
    The attached article talks about a ramp on the male. Click on it and see if you can tell via the description. It is definitely easier when youhave one of each.
  • Charlie Roche - 2011-04-22
    There is a blue large pring link attached to this writing which says AFRICAN SIDE NECK.
    Just click on it and it will take you to the article. OK. You have to have the turtle to be able to understand the way you can tell the gals from the guys.
  • shannon - 2011-04-21
    What attached article and where do I find it?
  • Kyle Bolf - 2011-05-11
    Look at the bottom of the shell, if its concave its a male if its flat its a female.
  • Lyndee Holyoak - 2011-05-27
    You can tell by the size of it's tail. A turtle with a shorter tail is a female, and a turtle with a longer tail is a male. Hope that helps!
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Katy - 2010-07-09
My husband found a baby turtle when he was mowing the lawn. We are trying to identify it - I am pretty certain it is a painted turtle, but it could be a cooter. We already have an African Side-Necked Turtle purchased from a pet store. Can I put the baby turtle in with my bigger one?

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  • ali - 2011-01-27
    No you should not because the bigger turtle will pick on the smaller one that is what I got told by a pet store worker I was gonna put my african sideneck turtle in with a painted turtle and they said no the bigger one will pick on the littler one :)
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Aisha Kramer - 2011-01-12
Recently, my turtle has been escaping his tank at night because we have no top. Are side-neck turtles nocturnal? Please reply if any reasons may come to mind.

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Anonumus - 2010-09-09
I have an african side-neck turtle at home and I have been finding green and white little shavings of something in her tank it appeared to be soft but I'm not sure. A days back I saw that she had eaten the snail that was in her tank to clean (not the shell). Is that her pooping it out? I will tell you some more information about her habitat if that may be causing this: rocks are blue, eats turtle food (green little cylinders)and goldfish, I don't have to pick up poop that is in her tank any more and maybe its because we bought a stronger filter that may be sucking it up before I see it. Please respond!

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  • carlie - 2010-12-19
    The green and white shavings could be the skin shedding and I guarantee she is eating her poop they do that...the rocks are not a good idea we don't have rocks in ours cause he might eat them and cause digestive problems (get stuck) you need to go to home depot and buy a tub for $3 and play sand for $3 also... they live in shallow pools of mud in africa the mud will help exfoliate the flaky skin and clean your turtle.. I say go to home depot because all other play sand contains silica which is a no no.. cancer causing if you or the turtle breathe in the dust... so home depots brand is awesome no silica.. you can make mud in the tub and watch her dig and play its so cool to watch... yay happy turtle... side necks are awesomely smart and escape artists too so watch her in that muddy tub! Cheers I hope that helps I'm not a vet but I'm pretty good with turtles soo yay free advice!
  • Barbara - 2011-01-08
    What you are seeing is absolutely her skin. Clean it out, or else get some nice bottom feeders, crabs, or shrimp to help clean. Be aware the crabs and shrimp will be prime targets for your turtle, though, so don't get attached to them. :) These turtles also love snails. In the wild, snails are one of their main staples. Listen at night for your hunting turtle - you'll hear her cracking the snail shells and getting the goody inside. I also recommend keeping guppies, mollies, or platys in your tank with her. These are live-bearing fish, and provide a constant source of midnight snacking. For whatever reason (probably an evolutionary response to light penetration in their natural waters), these turtles will spot yellow fish much easier than other colored fish, so try and keep from picking fish in the bright yellow, orange, and red spectrum - you'll likely lose them before they get a chance to breed! I've been keeping guppies most recently, because my turtle demolishes the larger Mollies before they can ever establish a darn population!
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andi - 2010-12-27
Hey... I have had my side neck since sept. 2010...he was fine in the beginning but now since we got a red eared slider in with him they both keep trying to escape out of the tank... they get along great but I'm concerned... I found him this morning flipped over on the filter cover with the plastic side cover popped out I nearly had a heart attack...help me!

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Rachealle - 2010-12-19
Hello, I have an African Sideneck Turtle at home and I got her 4 months ago they say they think she is 3 or 4 years old. I am not sure if she is just growing because her shell and skin is peeling. She now appears to have white spots on her head. On top of all that she makes noises it sounds like a dog crying. She might be like looking for a mate but I wouldn't know. Please if you know respond! Thank you

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shepard - 2010-03-18
Not a lot of information on the care and why they will not eat at certain times of the year or where to find books and information on care of the turtles.


Editor's Note: Feel free to explore the website a little bit more! I'm sure you can find what you need.

For care on turtles you can check out the following page: About Turtles and Tortoises: Selecting & Caring for Your Turtle or Tortoise

If you have a semi-aquatic turtle, like a box turtle check out this page: Guide to Box Turtle Care

If you are looking for books, check out the Reptile References. It has tons of good books (over 100 books alone!) used as references by us: Animal World References - Reptiles-Amphibians-Land Invertebrates

Enjoy the Animal-World website!


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  • anzanette - 2010-11-19
    I need to know what does it mean when the african sideneck shell has spots of whites on its shell?
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AnitaR. - 2010-08-11
I liked this site and found it very helpful. I have a side neck turtle handed down from a family member, we think she is about 15+ years old. We thought she was a male, Max, but today I was very surprised to find 3 eggs in her pond! Unfortunately they are not fertile since we do not have a male. I am going to look into getting her one though. I just put her in a large fiberglass tub(round) and put plants and rocks in there, I have some tank heaters in there to keep the temp. at 70 degrees, sometimes higher. She has some goldfish too. I have been trying to get info on her so that I can get her habitat as close to her natural environment as I can. I guess I succeeded since she laid eggs and we have had her for 5 years and no eggs in the past. Maybe she has just reached her maturity, I really don't know, I will be coming back to this sight for any other info. I can get. Thank you for your research and time investigating/studying of the African sideneck Turtle!

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  • Christine - 2010-08-28
    I have an african sideneck turtle I have had her for 1 year. I finally decided to mate hero. Do you know how long it takes for them to have eggs?
  • Wendy - 2010-10-11
    I also have an African side Neck that I received as a pet from a friend. We also thought she was a He.. Named Toney.. After about 3 years, she too laid eggs. I talked to a local reptile shop near home and they said that once they start to lay eggs, they will lay them annually. She first laid her eggs back in Feb. 2009, and now again, Oct. 2010. I would like to get her a male too, but not sure how to go about finding one. I also don't think I have a home large enough to accommodate a larger tank...
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sherri - 2010-09-15
I have two african sideneck turtles I had to use two tanks now because the male kept attacking the female now she as lead eggs what do I do with them need all the info I can get please?

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