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Do Turtles Make Great Pets? A Comprehensive Guide



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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Do turtles make great pets? The answer to this question is not as simple as a yes or no. In fact, there are a few things you need to consider before deciding if a turtle is the right pet for you.

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about turtles as pets, from their care and feeding requirements to how to choose the right one for your home.

We’ll also explore some of the pros and cons of keeping turtles as pets so that you can make an informed decision before bringing one into your life!

Key Takeaway

  • Turtles can make great pets as they are unique, interesting, and can have individual personalities, but they require significant care and are not recommended for children due to potential transmission of salmonella.
  • While you can buy a pet turtle from various vendors, it’s crucial to ensure the seller is reputable and follows regulations, such as not selling turtles less than 4 inches in size due to health risks, and it’s often recommended to purchase captive-bred turtles for ethical and conservation reasons.

Do Turtles Make Great Pets?

Yes. Turtles can make great pets for the right person. They are low maintenance, relatively quiet, and can live a long time if properly cared for. Turtles are also interesting creatures to watch and can be very entertaining. In fact, more and more people are opting to keep pet turtles over pets that are commonly found in the home such as dogs, cats, reptiles, and even fish.

Unlike cats and dogs that require a ton of work and upkeep, turtles are low maintenance and don’t require a lot of care.

Turtles are hardy reptiles with a long life span. While they are low maintenance overall, their long life span makes taking care of them a commitment for life. That is however not a bad thing as it also means your pet turtle will be your trusted companion for decades.

However, there are also some drawbacks to keeping turtles as pets. For example, they require special care and housing, and their diet can be expensive. Additionally, turtles carry Salmonella bacteria which can cause illness in humans, so it’s important to take precautions when handling them or their habitat.

If you’re considering a turtle as a pet, do your research to make sure you understand their needs and how to properly care for them. With the proper knowledge and preparation, owning a turtle can be a rewarding experience!

Can I Buy a Pet Turtle From Any Vendor?

Do Turtles Make Great Pets

No. While you can easily buy a pet turtle on the internet, this is not advisable. For starters, you are likely to end up with a wild turtle. Like any other exotic pet, a wild turtle will not thrive in captivity as it is likely to be stressed, agitated, and difficult to manage.

When buying a pet turtle, it is important to research the vendor and ensure that they are reputable. There are many unscrupulous vendors who sell sick or injured turtles. It is also important to find out what type of turtle you are purchasing, as some species require more care than others.

Some common questions to ask a potential vendor include:

  • Where do your turtles come from?
  • What kind of food do they eat?
  • What kind of water do they need?
  • Do they have any special needs?
  • Is the price negotiable?

If you can’t find the answers to these questions online, call or email the vendor for more information. Be sure to get a written guarantee that the turtle is healthy and has been properly cared for.

When you pick up your turtle, be sure to have a good look at it. The shell should be smooth with no bumps or cracks. The skin should be moist and free of lesions. The eyes should be clear and the turtles should be active and alert. If the turtle isn’t healthy, take it back to the vendor immediately.

It is important to remember that pet turtles require a lot of care, so do your research before purchasing one. Turtles can make great pets, but only if you are willing to commit to their care needs says WikiHow.

Can Turtles Spread Disease?

Yes. Turtles, especially small turtles, spread salmonella and are therefore dangerous, especially around young children, pregnant women, and elderly people. Salmonella is a life-threatening bacteria that causes symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. It is important to wash your hands with soap every time you handle a turtle.

Turtles, like other reptiles, can carry Salmonella bacteria on their skin and in their feces. People can get sick with Salmonella infections from contact with turtles or their environments (water and soil in areas where turtles live). Infections usually occur when people don’t wash their hands after handling turtles or coming into contact with turtle habitats.

Salmonella infections are more common in children than adults because they’re more likely to put their hands or other items that have been in contact with turtles in their mouths. Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Most people recover within a week without treatment; however, some people may need to be hospitalized.

Turtle urine is corrosive, which is yet another reason to wash your hands thoroughly after handling your pet turtle.

Do Turtles Require a Lot of Space?

Do Turtles Make Great Pets

Yes. Turtles need enough room to roam. Their space should be enclosed to keep them from wandering off. If you have a water turtle, you should get an aquarium that’s large enough to swim around in. It’s okay to start off with a small aquarium if you have a small turtle, but remember that your pet turtle is growing, so you’ll need a bigger aquarium sooner than later.

Water Turtles also need some “dry land” where they can bask in the sun. If you don’t have a yard, install a heat lamp in their basking area.

Box turtles do best when they have a lot of space to roam around. Others, like sea turtles, don’t need as much room since they spend most of their time in the water. So it really just depends on your individual turtle’s needs.

A tank size of at least 20 gallons is recommended for a pet turtle. Larger tanks are better, as they provide more space for the turtle to swim and explore. If you have a small tank, be sure to include plenty of hiding spots for the turtle to escape from bright light or other disturbances.

Remember that your turtle will grow over time, so it’s important to choose a tank that will accommodate its adult size. For more information on choosing the right tank size for your turtle, please consult an expert.

Do Turtles Make Your Room Smell?

Turtles don’t really have any scent at all because they lack the glands that secrete oils and other smells. However, they can make your room smell bad if you don’t clean their aquarium often. Thankfully, you can resolve this issue easily by cleaning their tank at least twice a month.

The best way to clean your turtle’s tank is by using a siphon. Just insert the siphon into the water and suck up the dirt and debris. Be sure to also change the water regularly – every two or three days is typically sufficient. And never use soap when cleaning!

Turtles are sensitive to chemicals and soaps can harm them. Just a little elbow grease and some fresh water is all you need to keep your turtle’s home clean and smelling fresh.

Please note that there are some turtles like the Musk turtles that give off a foul smell when they feel threatened. If you own one and notice an unusual smell coming from it, check your environment for any stressors.

A new person or an aggressive pet such as a dog may cause this kind of reaction in your Razor-backed Musk turtle.

Do Turtles Get Attached To Their Owners?

The answer may surprise you. While turtles may not show the same type of attachment as a dog or cat, they can certainly form bonds with their humans. They can recognize their owners and even respond to their voices.

Turtles are often quite attached to their homes and surroundings, so it stands to reason that they would also become attached to the people who care for them. If you spend time interacting with your turtle on a daily basis, chances are good that he or she will come to think of you as part of their home.

Of course, every turtle is different and some may be more attached to their humans than others. But if you’re wondering whether or not your turtle likes you, simply spending time together is a good way to find out.

Turtles may not be quick or interactive like dogs, but they have their own unique way of bonding with their owners.

My pet turtle was a little nervous when I first brought her home but has over time warmed up to me. Any time I stand close to its terrarium to feed it on pellets, it comes all the way to the edge and angles its head towards me. She is however rather shy around other people.

What Do Pet Turtles Eat?

There are two main types of pet turtles – aquatic turtles and terrestrial turtles. Aquatic turtles spend the majority of their time in the water, while terrestrial turtles spend the majority of their time on land. The type of diet that your pet turtle will need depends on which type of turtle it is.

If you have a terrestrial turtle, his diet will consist mostly of insects and other small prey items. You can either feed him live food, or you can give him freeze-dried food that has been rehydrated. Some turtle owners also like to give their turtles vegetables, which provide them with essential nutrients.

If you have an aquatic turtle, his diet will consist mostly of fish and other seafood. You can either feed him live food, or you can give him frozen food that has been thawed. Some turtle owners also like to give their turtles pellets, which are specially made for aquatic turtles.

Every meal you feed your pet turtle should be balanced to provide enough proteins, vitamins, and minerals. If you are concerned that your turtle is not getting enough nutrition, you can add food supplements to its diet.

  • Only buy food supplements for your pet turtle from a reputable pet store.
  • When going for food pellets, only buy the variety intended for turtles as normal food pellets will disintegrate in water.
  • Vegetables should make up 80% of a herbivorous pet turtle’s diet. The rest should be fruits.
  • A turtle’s age determines what and how much it eats. Younger turtles eat more protein so you are more likely to stock up on pellets and feeder fish.
  • Younger turtles need to feed more frequently and should eat at least once a day. You should also give them supplements three times a week.
  • Turtles reach adulthood at 7 years of age, at which point their feeding reduces considerably.

Do Pet Turtles Like Being Touched?

Some people think that pet turtles don’t enjoy being touched, but this isn’t actually true. Pet turtles love being touched and will often come out of their shells to greet their owners. Turtles are very social animals and enjoy interacting with their humans.

Turtles can be timid creatures, so it’s important to be gentle when you touch them. You should start by gently petting your turtle on its back or shell. If your turtle seems hesitant, give it some time to get used to your touch. Don’t force your turtle to do anything it doesn’t want to do!

Once your turtle gets comfortable with being touched, you can try picking it up. Always support the turtle’s weight with both hands when you’re holding it. Never pick up a turtle by its tail!

When handling your turtle, observe the following precautions.

  • Make sure your turtle can see you approaching it. If you appear suddenly from its blind spot and try to pick it up, it could get frightened and bite you.
  • Handle your tortoise on a low, flat surface, such as the floor. This will make it feel safe.
  • If your turtle opens its mouth when you try to touch its head, stop. This is a sign that it doesn’t want to be touched.
  • Let your turtle trust you naturally. If it sticks its head inside its shell, this shows that your turtle still doesn’t trust you.
  • Handle your pet turtle’s shell carefully as it is sensitive.

Sometimes your pet turtle will be having a bad day or be just in the mood for some alone time, so don’t expect it to be eager for your touch all the time.

Which Are The Best Pet Turtles for Beginners?

The best pet turtles for beginners are often considered to be the Eastern box turtles, red-eared sliders, Western painted turtles, Northern and Mississippi map turtles, Common Musk Turtles (“Stinkpots”), Diamondback Terrapin, and Razorback Musk Turtles due to their relative hardiness and manageable care requirements.

Eastern Box Turtles

Eastern Box Turtles are popular due to their small size and colorful markings. They’re generally easy-going and can live in a variety of environments, making them a good choice for beginners.

Red-Eared Sliders

Red-eared sliders are one of the most commonly kept pet turtles due to their vibrant coloration and active nature. They require a fair amount of care, including a proper diet and a large enough aquatic environment, but their hardiness makes them suitable for beginners.

Western Painted Turtles

Western Painted Turtles are known for their striking appearance with a shell that features red and yellow markings. They are relatively easy to care for, requiring a balanced diet and a clean aquatic environment.

Northern and Mississippi Map Turtles

Northern and Mississippi Map Turtles are small, active, and interesting to watch. Their care requirements are similar to other aquatic turtles, which includes a diet of both plants and protein sources, and a well-maintained aquatic habitat.

Common Musk Turtles (“Stinkpots”)

Common Musk Turtles, also known as “Stinkpots”, are small and easy to handle, making them a good choice for those new to turtle care. They have a reputation for being hardy and are able to adapt to various environments.

Diamondback Terrapin

Diamondback Terrapins are unique-looking turtles with diamond-shaped patterns on their shells. They require a brackish water setup, which is a mix of fresh and saltwater, and a varied diet, but their adaptability and hardiness make them suitable for beginners.

Razorback Musk Turtles

Razorback Musk Turtles are a good choice for those who prefer a smaller turtle. They have a distinctive raised shell and are generally easy to care for, needing a well-maintained aquatic setup and a balanced diet.


Q: What is the lifespan of a turtle?

A: The lifespan of a turtle can vary depending on the species. Some turtles can live for 20-30 years, while others can live for over 100 years.

Q: How do I take care of a pet turtle?

A: Taking care of a pet turtle involves providing them with a suitable habitat, regular feeding, and maintaining proper hygiene. You will also need to provide them with UVB lighting and a heat source to ensure their well-being.

Q: What kind of habitat do turtles need?

A: Turtles need a spacious enclosure that mimics their natural habitat. This includes a basking area, a swimming area with clean water, and a hiding spot. It’s important to research the specific needs of the species you have before setting up their habitat.

Q: What do turtles eat?

A: The diet of a turtle can vary depending on the species. Most turtles are omnivores and eat a combination of commercial turtle food, leafy greens, vegetables, and occasionally small insects or fish. It’s important to provide a varied and balanced diet for your turtle.

Q: How often should I feed my pet turtle?

A: The frequency of feeding your pet turtle will depend on their age and species. As a general guideline, most adult turtles should be fed once every other day, while young turtles may require daily feeding. Consult a veterinarian or do research specific to your turtle’s needs.

Q: Can turtles interact with humans?

A: While turtles are not typically as interactive as dogs or cats, they can still recognize their owners and become familiar with their presence. Turtles can develop unique personalities and may show signs of recognition or some level of interaction.

Q: Are turtles easy to take care of?

A: Turtles can be relatively easy to take care of once you have a good understanding of their needs and provide them with the appropriate environment. However, they do require proper care and attention, including regular maintenance of their habitat and diet.

Q: Can turtles be kept together?

A: In general, turtles are solitary animals and prefer to be kept alone. However, some species can tolerate living with others of the same species, especially when they are young. It’s important to consider the specific needs and temperament of the turtle species you have before deciding to house them together.

Q: Can turtles be trained?

A: While turtles are not as trainable as some other pets, they can learn to recognize their feeding routine and become familiar with their owners’ presence. With patience and consistent positive reinforcement, some turtles can even learn simple behaviors.

Conclusion and final thoughts

In conclusion, turtles make great pets for those who are looking for a low-maintenance, long-term companion.

Turtles can live for decades and are relatively easy to care for assuming the proper environment is provided.

They are interesting creatures with unique personalities and can provide hours of entertainment.

However, they require special diets and lighting requirements that need to be met in order to ensure they are healthy and happy.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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