Terrapins have some quite specialist needs in captivity. For example they will need warm heated water to swim in, and then an area of dry land where they drag themselves out. Here they will need a basking lamp to lie under, which will allow them to dry out fully as well as raise their body temperature. They also need artificial sunlight in the form of UV light in order to synthesize vitamin D3 and so grow healthy bones and shells. As active animals, they require a large tank, together with all the electronic gadgets already mentioned. This means that housing terrapins can be a very expensive business. Before you take on a baby terrapin therefore make sure that you’ll have the space and the money to give them the proper housing as they grow.
The majority of pet terrapins are carnivorous and require meat to eat. This may be provided in the form of chopped meat from the butchers, live insects from a reptile shop or specially-made terrapin pellets. However leaving unwanted dead meat floating in the warm water of a terrapin tank can quickly turn the water sour. Terrapins therefore typically require a powerful filter and regular cleaning to minimize unpleasant smells or unhealthy water quality.
Lastly be aware that there are a number of different terrapin species sometimes found for sale in the UK. In the past it was the red-eared terrapin (or “slider”) that was most commonly seen. These animals can be vast as adults though, attaining a shell length of over 30cm long. As a result they require more of a pond than simply a fish tank, and as a result aren’t really suitable pets.