Chicken Turtle Care For Beginners [Comprehensive Handbook]

Chicken turtle in natural habitat

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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The name Chicken turtle was enough to convince me to get this species. But as you know, welcoming a turtle to my home was the easiest part of the journey. Now I had to draft a care sheet for this pet and ensure it has the best life possible. Yes, I am kind enough to share my secrets of caring for a chicken turtle with you all. 

Male chicken turtles require a minimum of a 75-gallon tank, and females need at least a 125-gallon tank. To mimic their natural habitat in captivity, install lights, a heater, and a filter. Chicken turtles eat meat when young and both meat and plants as adults. Their diet should include proteins, vegetables, and dietary supplements.

Want more details? Keep reading.

Key Takeaways

  • Chicken turtles are native to the Southern USA and grow up to 10 inches on average.
  • The species is suitable for beginners.
  • Chicken turtles are not endangered and are widely available.

Chicken Turtle: Species Introduction

“Know your turtle first”

This has been my preaching throughout this journey. Before buying any species, I research their profile, favorite foods, and environment. I believe this is the only way to ensure a happening life for pet turtles.

Of course, I followed the same rule with chicken turtles, too. So, why not start this article with the chicken turtle’s profile? Let’s start.

Why These Turtles Are Named ‘Chicken Turtles’?

Chicken Turtles are named so due to their taste, which is said to be similar to chicken.

This naming is based on the culinary perspective, as historically, these turtles were sometimes consumed for food.

The name reflects an aspect of human interaction with the species rather than any biological or physical characteristic of the turtles themselves.

It’s a common practice in many cultures to name animals based on their utility or distinctive traits that are significant to human use or perception.

Are there types of chicken turtles?

Yes, there are different types of Chicken Turtles, which are essentially subspecies. The Chicken Turtle is divided into three recognized subspecies:

Eastern Chicken Turtle: This subspecies is found primarily in the southeastern United States, from Virginia to Florida and west to eastern Texas. It is characterized by a long, striped neck and a shell patterned with a fine, net-like pattern.

Florida Chicken Turtle: As its name suggests, this subspecies is primarily found in Florida. It shares many characteristics with the Eastern Chicken Turtle but tends to have a more brightly colored shell and is generally smaller in size.

Western Chicken Turtle: Found in the central and southwestern United States, this subspecies is less common than the other two. It differs slightly in shell and skin coloration and patterning.

Each of these subspecies inhabits a range of freshwater environments, such as ponds, marshes, and slow-moving streams. They share similar behaviors and life history traits but are adapted to different geographical regions and environmental conditions.

Here is a table listing the different Chicken Turtle subspecies, along with their key characteristics:

Chicken Turtle SubspeciesGeographic LocationShell Coloration and PatternEnvironmentOther Characteristics
Eastern Chicken TurtleSoutheastern United States (Virginia to Florida, west to eastern Texas)Fine, net-like pattern on shell; long, striped neckFreshwater environments like ponds, marshes, slow-moving streamsAdapted to southeastern US conditions
Florida Chicken TurtlePrimarily FloridaBrightly colored shellSimilar freshwater environments as Eastern Chicken TurtleSimilar to Eastern but smaller and more colorful
Western Chicken TurtleCentral and Southwestern United StatesSlightly different shell and skin coloration/patternSimilar freshwater environments but in central and southwestern USLess common, adapted to different regional conditions

Chicken Turtle Appearance: How Do They Look?

Many stories talk about the origin of this funny name of chicken turtles. One established tale is that this reptile tastes like chicken. I know it sounds brutal and violates the Animal Act. But it is just a story.

Another group claims that the name originated from the chicken-like appearance of these turtles. They have long necks like chickens covered with yellow stripes.

Shells of chicken turtles are smooth, hard and egg-shaped. The olive tanned carapace has a net-like yellow ring pattern. Plastrons of the chicken turtles are yellow and unmarked.

Chicken turtles have 3 subspecies,

  • Western chicken turtle (Deirochelys Reticularia Miaria)
  • Eastern chicken turtle (Deirochelys Reticularia Reticularia)
  • Florida chicken turtle (Deirochelys Reticularia Chrysea)

The appearance of these turtles changes depending on the subspecies, too. For example, the Florida chicken turtles have broad orange or yellow lines on the carapace. You will aslo see board color range on the upper shell rims.

Eastern chicken turtles are duller compared to the Florida chicken turtles. Instead of bright orange and yellow, this subspecies has narrow green or brown lines on the carapace. The upper shell rim is also decorated with slender color bands. Unlike Florida chicken turtles, the Eastern ones have black markings on the lateral and rear marginals.

Furthermore, the Western chicken turtles have the same faint markings on the carapace. But the lines are broad, unlike those of Eastern chicken turtles. The subspecies have black markings along the plaston sides. Their upper shells are usually flatter than the other 2 subspecies.

One more thing. You will notice vertical yellow and black stripes in the rear part of these creatures. Their claws are also sharp and pointy.

Chicken Turtle Habitat: Where Do Chicken Turtles Live?

If you follow my blogs, you know that I always encourage adopting a turtle native to your region. Chicken turtles are from the Southern USA. They live throughout the coastal plains except for the Piedmont Mountains.

More specifically, the Eastern chicken turtles inhabit the east coast of the Mississippi river. The Western chicken turtles go further to the north, occupying Northern Florida and the middle of the eastern shore. Finally, the Florida chicken turtles are basically from this state. They are distributed over 2/3 of the lower Florida area.

Chicken turtles hate the large reserviors or permanent ponds. Instead, they find comfort in the heavily vegetated streams. Shallow waters and wetlands are their favorite homes in the wild.

Chicken Turtle Quirky Behavior: Are They Aggresive?

They say chicken turtles are very social and absolutely love company. Well, I doubt it.

Of course, the baby and female chicken turtles are pretty cooperative. They will live in peace without zero violance.

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But you can not expect it from the males. My God! The male chicken turtles I brought home were monsters. They would be friendly and polite when you keep them separated. But as soon as you add a tank mate, they would go crazy.

In the beginning, I thought my turtles were acting differently. But soon, I found out it was everyone’s problem.

Since then, I have respected the male chicken turtle’s privacy and kept them in a separate enclosure.

Chicken Turtle Size: How Big Do They Get?

The chicken turtles belong to the medium-size category.

Their average carapace size is 4 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm). However, there are records of chicken turtles getting up to 12 inches (30 cm).

How big will a chicken turtle get? Well, the answer depends on a lot of factors. For example, the subspecies, age, and health.

Western chicken turtles are the smallest and the Florida chicken turtles are the largest or bulkiest among the 3. Similarly, the size also depends on health. Generally, a reptile with complicated illnesses does not grow to the fullest.

One interesting fact about chicken turtles. The females are always larger (1.5x) than the males. But you can not always depend on one parameter to differentiate between genders.

Observe their tail size and cloaca for assurance. Usually, the males have a thicker tail, and their cloaca is slit-like and located at the tip of the tail. Get the ultimate guide to determine your turtle’s sex from this article.

Here is a growth table tracking the chicken turtle’s size at different life stages:

AgeShell Length (Approximate)
Hatchling1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm)
1 Year2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm)
2 Years3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm)
3 Years4 to 5 inches (10.2 to 12.7 cm)
4 Years5 to 6 inches (12.7 to 15.2 cm)
5 Years6 to 7 inches (15.2 to 17.8 cm)
Adult8 to 10 inches (20.3 to 25.4 cm)
These figures are estimates. Individual growth can vary greatly depending on the turtle’s health, diet, and living conditions.

Chicken Turtle Lifespan: How Long Do They Live?

If you are looking for a turtle with a long lifespan, unfortunately, chicken turtles are not the best choice for you.

The species has a 15-year longevity in the wild and 13 years of life expectancy in captivity.

Some researchers claim they have captured chicken turtles aged between 20 and 24 years.

It means we can not eliminate the idea of a long lifespan of chicken turtles. The species may outlive the record with exceptional care and replication of wild environments in captivity.

On average, chicken turtles will live 15-20 years in captivity when provided a suitable habitat and quality care. However, some individuals have been documented to survive over 25 years in the wild. Facts like lifespan help readers understand long-term commitments.

Let’s Build A Home for The Chicken Turtles

Okay! Now that we know our chicken turtles why don’t we move to their day-to-day care? I will show you how to build a comfortable home for these little guys and then discuss their diet. I hope that is okay with you all.

here’s a table showing the ideal tank setup requirements for Chicken Turtles at different life stages:

Chicken Turtle Life StageTank SizeSubstrateHeating/LightingHiding SpotsAdditional Requirements
Hatchling (Baby)For every 1-inch size of turtle, 15-20 gallons of water. Consider future growth and choose a tank size that will accommodate adult size.Not necessary; can use for decoration. If used, choose large-size gravel or fluorite to prevent ingestion.UVB light for full spectrum lighting and heat lamp for basking area. Maintain a day/night cycle with lights on for 12-14 hours.Provide areas for hiding and feeling secure.Powerful filtration system; canister filters recommended for effectiveness and ease of cleaning. Water heater if in a cooler environment; thermometer to monitor water and basking temperatures. Tank cover, preferably heatproof metal, to protect from external dangers and prevent escapes​​.
JuvenileSimilar to hatchlings, but adjust the tank size considering growth.Same as hatchlings.Same as hatchlings.Same as hatchlings.Same as hatchlings.
AdultSpacious and sturdy; at least three times the length of the turtle in length, twice in width, and 1.5 to 2 times in height.Same as hatchlings.Same as hatchlings.Same as hatchlings.Same as hatchlings.

Enclosure Size: Tank, Pool, or Pond?

The beginners are often confused about where to keep the turtle. I know the outdoor setup looks very tempting. But for a newbie, it can be too much to handle. I always recommend starting with indoor tanks.

On average, chicken turtles of any subspecies do not grow over 10 inches. Consider yourself lucky if yours crosses this point. My adult chicken turtles range from 5 to 6 inches.

If you aim for an indoor setup, buy a tank of at least 75 gallons for adult chicken turtles. I had accommodated 2 young turtles in this space. The tank size also works for 1 adult male.

However, for adult females, you need to upgrade the tank size. Buy a minimum of 125 gallon tank and even more if necessary.

Chicken turtles can also adjust in the outside environment though they are not as popular as outdoor turtles. I suggest setting up a kiddie pool before digging up an entire pond. The kiddie pools are quite convenient and comforting for turtles.

Once the turtles seem to enjoy the outdoor environment, move them to an outdoor pond. Setting up a pond can be costly, and you must move the turtles indoors in harsh weather. Security is also a concern. Yet, chicken turtles love being outside as it reminds them of home.

Choose any of the 3 habitat types as per your convenience.

Basking Dock: Do Chicken Turtles Bask?

Chicken turtles spend most of their time underwater and bask occasionally. In the wild, the creatures get up on the logs, stones, or river sides to soak the sunlight.

Hence, we need to make a basking space for turtles in captivity, too.

I usually stack the flat, smooth-edged rocks to build a basking dock. The water is always below the platform. So, it acts as both basking and land area.

Putting a log inside the tank is also a good idea. It adds a natural vibe to the aquarium and you can place it right under the basking light.

I always prefer DIYing the basking platform. However, if you do not want to use logs or rocks, just buy a commercial dock from the pet store.

In any scenario, make sure that the chicken turtles can access the platform easily. Build a ramp if necessary. Also, the dock should be robust enough to hold the weights of multiple turtles.

Artificial Lighting Arrangements for Chicken Turtles

Heat and UV rays are the two most significant requirements of any turtle. Let me explain.

1. Heating Lamp

Chicken turtles are ectothermic, which means they depend solely on the surrounding heat to stay warm. When in the wild or an outdoor setup, the sun is enough to offer these creatures heat. But what if we raise the chicken turtles in an indoor tank?

The access to sunlight will definitely be limited. Also, direct sunlight can often boost the algae population making the tank gross.

Well, the easiest solution will be to install a heating or basking light in the tank. The heating lamps come in different varieties and powers. I have set up the light right above the basking dock and at such an angle that the bulb creates a temperature gradient in the tank.

How far should the basking lamp be from the dock? Well. It depends on the power of the bulb. For example,

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Power of The BulbDistance from The Dock
50 watt5 to 7 inches
75 watt7 to 9 inches
100 watt10 to 12 inches
150 wattMore than 12 inches

Without the heating lamp in the tank, the chicken turtles will slow their metabolism and enter hibernation. Now I am sure you know the danger of unplanned hibernation. It can be deadly for your sweet innocent chicken turtle.

2. UV Bulbs

Just like the basking bulb, the heating lamp is equally essential. Infact, UV light is one kind of basking lamp.

The UVA rays keep the chicken turtles mentally chilled and relaxed. These exposures also ensure a healthy digestive system.

On the contrary, UVB rays promote vitamin D3 production in the chicken turtle’s system. As a result, the pet can absorb more calcium and build a solid skeleton. Sufficient exposure to UV rays boosts immunity in turtles and keeps them healthy in the long run.

A quality UV bulb is one of the mandatory supplies for indoor aquariums. Do not buy cheap lights as they do not radiate UVA or UVB.

The UV lamps are available in different percentages. How far should the light be from the dock? Well, the answer again depends on the power of the UV? Such as,

UV Percentage of The BulbDistance from The Dock
2.5% UV12 inches
3% UV14 to 16 inches
5% UV18 inches
10% UVMore than 18 inches

New bulbs are available that work as both heating and UV lamps. Of course, you can buy those 2 in 1 if their services are good. You can check these lights from here.

3. Other Lights

Those who install a night light in the chicken turtle’s habitat, please stop. Turtles sleep with closed eyes to eliminate any brightness. So, a night light will make sleeping impossible for them. In fact, keeping the lights on at nighttime will disrupt their sleep cycle completely.

What if the turtles woke up in the middle of the night? Well, the creatures have a blessed vision. They can see in the dark to an extent.

However, yes. A blue or red light might be necessary in the enclosure on cold days for the hatchlings.

Do Chicken Turtles Need A Water Heater?

A water heater is another necessary piece of equipment for indoor chicken turtles. I have already briefed you on the significance of heat for these reptiles. So how can you forget to keep the water warm up?

If the summer is terrible in your area, do not install any heater. On those scorching days, I usually keep the heater off and check the water temperature with a thermometer every hour.

I hope you will handle the turtle aquarium without a summer in the summer. However, the device is mandatory in the late autumn and winter. The weather changes during this time and the temperature is quite chilly at night.

My advice is not to be confused about whether to set up a water heater or not. Instead, install one and keep it turned off when not necessary.

I have met people who buy cheap water heaters. This is a red alert for you guys. Those low-quality heaters can not provide the right temperature and their wiring system is not up to the mark. Your innocent turtles can get electrocuted if the cables get wrecked.

Recently, I have purchased a digital water heater. Yes, it is a big investment but I think the device is worth every penny. It can track and regulate the water temperature per the turtle’s comfort.

Should You Install A Water Filter?

I still do not understand why keepers ignore the water filter in their chicken turtle enclosure. The habitats look gross and smell like a dead rats. Yes, it gets that stinky without a proper filtration system.

Well, we can not blame our turtles for creating a mess inside the pond or tank. Obviously, turtles are smart. But they are not intelligent enough to be trained to follow hygiene. This is why you will find your chicken turtles leaving foodscraps and pooping in the same water they drink.

If you do not install a filter, the leftover and wastes along with other dirt will settle at the tank bottom. The trash will spread a foul odor as it degrades. It not only makes your home unwelcoming, but the enclosure becomes the breeding ground for bacteria.

Installing a water filter is the only way to avoid this awful situation. For indoor aquarium setups, the canister filters are the best. For ponds (both indoor and outdoor), buy a more powerful filter or make one for yourself.

How powerful should the filter be? Experts advise getting a device 1.5x to 2x the size of the tank. This way, the filter can process water properly.

here’s a table detailing the Chicken Turtle’s water needs, including parameters like water change schedule, temperature, depth, and more:

ParameterRequirementNotes
Water Change ScheduleReplace 25% of the water weekly; full change monthly.A thorough tank cleaning is recommended once or twice a month​​​​.
Water TemperatureRange between 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.Use a heater if the water is too cold​​.
Water DepthMinimum depth of three-quarters of the turtle’s length.Most aquatic turtles prefer a water depth of 5 to 6 inches​​.
Water pHBetween 7 to 8.Ideal pH range varies by species, so it’s best to consult an expert for specific needs​​.
Water QualityClean, safe water.Distilled water is recommended for filling the tank​​.

Decorations In Chicken Turtle Enclosure

Nothing can be more boring than a plain chicken turtle tank with only the essential equipements. Man! Where are the colors?

I decorated my chicken turtle’s enclosure the best I could. First, I started with keeping things as natural as possible. Instead of a commercial dock, I used logs and rock stacks.

Next, I layered the bottom with top soil and colorful gravel. As mentioned, chicken turtles love heavily vegetated areas. So, I added live plants to the decoration.

Of course, chicken turtles want some privacy from time to time. It helps them relax and fight the stress. They will look for hiding places. The broad leaves, rocky caves, and broken pots are excellent hiding spots.

If you can implement these decoration ideas, your chicken turtle habitat will look elegant and natural.

Which Type Of Environment Do Chicken Turtles Like?

You will be surprised to know how picky chicken turtles can be about their surroundings. A single mistake in regulating the temperature or cleaning will make the pets sick.

The ideal basking and air temperature for chicken turtles are 75F to 85F and 85F to 90F, respectively. Likewise, the comfortable water temperature for these pets is 75F to 80F. You can drop the temperature by 2 to 3 degrees at night.

By the way, do not forget to turn the heating and UV bulbs off after dark. 10 to 12 hours of service is all we need from these lights. Also, replace the UV lamps every 6 months.

And what about the water condition? Chicken turtles do not like the salty water at all. You can use fresh tap water as long as the mineral contents are utilized.

For example, chicken turtles can not stand high chlorine, sulfate, and ammonia percentages in the water. Their suitable pH range is 7.5 to 8. Add a few drops of commercial conditioner to the water and it will be ready to use for the pets within several hours.

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What Is An Ideal Diet For Chicken Turtles?

Apparently, chicken turtles are aggressively carnivorous, especially in their early days. The young turtles will hunt fish several times a day. Experts suggest that chicken turtles can expand their throats and create a vacuum to trap prey. However, with growing age, the species experience a change in taste and switch to an omnivorous diet.

eastern chicken turtle

Popular items on chicken turtle’s meal are,

  • Small fish
  • Crayfish
  • Tadpole
  • Larvae
  • Insects
  • Dragonfly
  • Fishing spider
  • Shrimp
  • Earthworm
  • Mealworm
  • Bloodworm
  • Cricket
  • Grasshopper
  • Water hyacinth
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Water weed
  • Duckweed
  • Frogbit
  • Anarchis
  • Turnip green
  • Mustard green
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Red leafy vegetables
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion greens, etc.

You can basically follow the carnivorous map turtle or similar species’ diet routine to prepare a meal draft for chicken turtles. Avoid offering heavy protein sources daily, as turtles take a long time to digest anything. Overfeeding protein can be proven unhealthy.

Chicken turtles love sweet fruits, papaya, berries, avocado, plum, date, raisin, etc. I only offer my pets fruits when I want them to give a treat. Too much fruit means a high sugar percentage, which can upset the chicken turtle’s tummy.

Here is a table outlining the chicken turtle’s nutritional needs at different life stages:

Life StageAmount of Food NeededType of Food
Hatchling1-2 times dailySmall, soft foods like chopped earthworms, mealworms, feeder fish, shrimp, soft-bodied insects
Juvenile2-3 times weeklyIn addition to above: Pellets, flakes, frozen foods like chopped shrimp, silversides, smelt
Adult1-2 times weeklyVaried omnivorous diet including above foods, along with vegetables like dark, leafy greens

I highly discourage you from feeding the chicken turtles processed foods. Yes, you might offer them pellets (veg and non-veg), but the percentage should not exceed 25%. Moreover, just because chicken turtles are fans of proteins, do not feed them cat or dog foods.

For deciding meal quantity, I follow the head method. Yes, you can imagine a bowl about the same size as your chicken turtle’s head if it were empty. I fill up the container with both protein and vegetables. Before feeding the turtles, I sprinkle calcium supplements on the meal.

The 15-minute method is also popular to determine the meal quantity for pet turtles.

And I suppose you know the feeding schedule? No? You feed the babies daily for 6 months. Then you switch to the every-other-day meal routine. The adult chicken turtles might have less appetite, and some survive with a twice-a-week diet schedule.

Chicken Turtle Potential Diseases And Treatments

You might have heard that chicken turtles are very hardy and can withstand harsh weather. I am not saying those are lies. But chicken turtles are no superheroes. They fall victim to sickness more frequently than you can think of.

Unfortunately, any severe illness takes a toll in the pet’s life. So, the turtle might live a short life expectancy now. Having a minimum knowledge of their diseases and primarary treatments is always better.

Here is a table listing common diseases and health issues in chicken turtles along with their symptoms, causes and treatment:

Disease/IssueSymptomsCausesTreatment
Respiratory infectionRunny nose, swollen eyes, labored breathingPoor ventilation, low humidity, bacterial/fungal infectionAntibiotics, increase humidity
Metabolic bone disease (MBD)Brittle shell, soft bonesLack of UVB, calcium, vitamin D3Adjust lighting/supplements, correct husbandry
Shell rotSoft, foul-smelling shellPoor water quality, wounds, bacterial infectionAntibiotics, clean enclosure/water
ParasitesLethargy, poor appetite, skin lesionsContaminated food/water, unsanitary conditionsFecal exam by vet, deworming meds
Eye/skin infectionsCrusty eyes/skin, swellingBacterial/fungal causesAntibiotics, antifungals

I am discussing a few common diseases in chicken turtles below,

1. Hypovitaminosis

The lack of vitamin A in the food leads to vitamin A deficiency in chicken turtles. This disease is more common in chicken turtles because they are carnivorous. Puffy eyes, dry skin, low immunity, and infectious illnesses are some hypovitaminosis symptoms. Adding carrots and grean leafy veggies, high in vitamin A along with antibiotic shots can cure the pets. 

2. Shell Diseases

A single untreated scratch on the shell can lead to severe rotting. An encounter with the predator or falling in an accident can crack open the scutes. Remember, turtle shells are quite sensitive and can not live without one. Even though the shells can heal naturally, still seek a vet’s advice. He will prescribe medicine and might perform surgery to cure the sick turtle.

3. Metabolic Bone Disease

Lack of UVB in the enclosure limits the production of vitamin D3 and absorption of calcium. As a result, the chicken turtles do not reach the expected level of growth. Soft shells, splayed legs, bumpy scutes, overgrowth of jaws, etc., are symptoms of MBD. Installing a quality UVB and adding calcium supplements to the meal is recommended as treatment.

4. Respiratory Illness

A direct infection attack to the lungs causes this disease. Usually, prolonged hypovitaminosis A leads to respiratory illness and untreated respiratory issue turns into pneumonia. Sneezing, wheezing, coughing, labored breathing, teary eyes, mucus discharge, etc., are signs of respiratory infection in chicken turtles. The sick pets need antibiotic meds and home remedies to get well.

5. Stress

Believe me or not! Chicken turtles can be stressed due to the improper environment, constant touching, and loud noises. Anxiety hampers their digestion, immunity, and physical growth. You must make the turtles feel homely and allow them to have personal spaces.

Oh! I can go on with more turtle diseases. Click here to get a detail on all of them.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is engaging citizen scientists to help in understanding turtle and tortoise populations, including chicken turtles, throughout the Southeast United States. This initiative aims to fill gaps in knowledge about these species and inform conservation decisions. The information collected will be used to examine distributions, potential range expansions, and the impacts of climate change and other anthropogenic factors on these species​. (Source)

Chicken Turtle Care For Winter Season

Winter has always been harsh for turtles and it is no different for chicken turtles. If the surrounding temperature drops by any chance, the creatures will take that blow.

What happens is that chicken turtles fail to keep their bodies warm without heating. Their biological system takes it as a red signal and enters survival mode. They prepare to live on the stored energy.

To serve this purpose, chicken turtles slow their metabolism and become inactive. Again, to save energy, they decrease their heart rate, too.

In short, chicken turtles enter a sleeping mode aka hibernation for the entire winter. Do not get me wrong. Hibernation is a natural process and the survival mechanism of the wild turtles.

However, forcing a pet turtle into brumation can be deadly. A single mistake can cost its life. This is why owners discourage captive hibernation.

The best way to tackle winter is to maintain a suitable temperature inside the chicken turtle’s enclosure. It means regulating the temperature of the water heater and basking lights. If the supplies are running on a full blast, the turtles will barely feel the winter outdoors.

Yes, the winter can be an issue for outdoor turtles. They might burrow at the bottom of the pond or on the land for hibernation. Move the pets to the indoor setup only for the winter and they will be safe.

Well, if you wish to make the turtles hibernate, prepare them for at least a year. For example, feed it a balanced diet, track its health, etc. Babies and sick turtles are unworthy of hibernation.

As the winter approaches, make the turtles fast for 3 to 4 weeks. If the pets enter the sleep with half-broken food in the tummy, they are done for life.

Just lik harsh winter, summer can be painful for turtles, too. If it is too much, the chicken turtles switch to dormant mode. This is similar to hibernation. But here, the chicken turtles cool off the heat and relax.

Chicken Turtle Reproduction Care

I am sure you have thought of breeding your chicken turtle pair at some point. Well, I discourage you from breeding pets if you are a beginner. It is a stressful job for both the keepers and the turtles. So, you must have some experience before jumping into breeding.

Most turtle species mate after coming out of hibernation. For chicken turtles, the pattern is slightly different.

Chicken turtles breed twice a year and nest in either summer or winter. The nesting season lasts from February to May (early spring) and August to November (early winter).

In the wild, chicken turtles find their suitable mate on their own. The males approach the females by nipping them or swimming around them in loops. If the females give a green signal, they will start the copulation process.

However, in captivity, you are in charge of selecting the mating partners. Males get aggressive during the breeding season and might hurt the female physically. So, it is better if you can put multiple females against one male chicken turtle.

Soon after successful copulation, the female chicken turtle will conceive. Separate the males and females right after they mate. Otherwise, the male will try breeding the preganant turtle again and again.

As the time approaches, the female turtle will start coming to the land area in search of a nesting site. Attach a nesting box right beside the main aquarium. Use top soil and other substrates as a bedding or buy a commercial box.

The mother chicken turtle will leave the nest after laying her eggs. Usually, one clutch includes 5 to 11 eggs, and a female chicken turtle can deposit 2 clutches annually.

Remove the eggs from the soil and transfer them into an incubator. A source says to incubate the eggs at 82F to 86F for a few weeks and then cool them in the refrigerator. I know it sounds odd but people have hatched their chicke turtle babies this way within 90 days. Keeping the eggs in the incubator at a constant 82F might take more than 4 months for the babies to come out.

Once the hatchings are here, transfer them to a well-equipped tank. Offer them balanced meals with supplements. Do not forget to talk to the vet and have the babies checked.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence in sightings of the Florida chicken turtle on Sanibel, where they had been rare for decades. A pregnant female was discovered and studied, shedding light on the species’ behavior and habitat preferences. These turtles are particularly interesting due to their ephemeral nature, being active only at certain times of the year and having an unusual nesting and incubation cycle, with the longest-recorded incubation time being around 18 months. (Source)

What is the incubation period of a Chicken Turtle egg?

The incubation period of a Chicken Turtle egg typically ranges from 42 to 90 days. This variation is influenced by environmental factors such as temperature and humidity. Warmer temperatures generally result in shorter incubation periods. It’s important to note that these are general estimates, and incubation periods can vary slightly depending on specific conditions and geographical locations.

Can You Keep Two Chicken Turtles Together?

Apparently, chicken turtles are quite friendly except for the males.

The male turtles are aggressively territorial and will pick up on the babies and females. Therefore, I suggest you keep the male chicken turtles separate from other pets.

However, keepers have successfully raised male and female chicken turtles by adding more space. Of course, it is possible. Do these turtles not live together in the wild?

Just ensure enough space and food. I am pretty sure the reptiles will get along soon.

You can try adding other species to the tank, too. As I said, the baby and female turtles will welcome any companion. But the males can be really picky.

Yet, it does not hurt to try. Right? Select a turtle species with a similar care sheet to the chicken turtle. It can be a cooter, painted turtle, slider, or map turtle. The turtles will be just fine if there is space in the habitat. However, separate the turtles immediately if you catch them fighting.

Before You Go…

Chicken turtles make excellent pets for beginners. They are not endangered and are legal in most states. On top of that, the chicken turtles are low maintenance and easy to care for. If you are looking for beginner turtles, the article below will help.

How To Choose A Beginner Turtle

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.

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