Introduction to turtle keeping

Brief Overview of Turtles as Pets

Turtles, with their calm demeanor and intriguing behavior, make for captivating pets. They are relatively low-maintenance compared to some other pets, but they do require specific care to ensure their health and longevity. As pets, turtles can offer a serene presence in a home, and observing their daily activities can be both relaxing and educational.

Benefits of Keeping Turtles

Educational Value: Turtles can be a great way to teach children and adults about responsibility, the natural world, and the importance of conservation.

Longevity: Many turtle species have long lifespans, with some living for several decades. This means they can be a long-term companion for those who care for them.

Therapeutic Presence: Watching turtles swim or bask can have a calming effect, reducing stress and anxiety.

Low Noise Level: Unlike dogs, cats, or birds, turtles are quiet animals, making them suitable for those who prefer a peaceful environment.

Conservation Awareness: Keeping turtles can raise awareness about the threats many wild turtle populations face, such as habitat loss and pollution.

7 different popular pet turtle species

red eared slider lifespan

Native to the southern United States, the Red Eared Slider is one of the most popular pet turtles. They have a distinctive red stripe behind each eye and can grow up to 12 inches.

They are aquatic and require a spacious tank with both water and basking areas.

Recognized by their vibrant, colorful markings, Painted Turtles are freshwater turtles found across North America.

They have a smooth shell with red and yellow stripes on their legs and neck.

Primarily terrestrial, Box Turtles have a high-domed shell and hinged plastron, allowing them to close up tightly.

They are omnivores and can be found in various habitats, from forests to grasslands.

Named for the map-like patterns on their shells, Map Turtles are freshwater species found in the eastern United States.

They have a keeled carapace (upper shell) and prefer habitats with clear, flowing water.

African Spurred Tortoise (Geochelone sulcata) in the garden

Native to the arid regions of Africa, the Sulcata Tortoise is the third-largest tortoise species in the world.

They have a thick, bumpy shell and can weigh over 100 pounds. They are known for their burrowing behavior.

Found in the brackish waters of the eastern and southern United States, Diamondback Terrapins have unique diamond-shaped patterns on their carapace.

They are the only U.S. turtle adapted to live in salt marshes.

still not sure? check our guide on how to choose a pet turtle!

Before You Get a Turtle.. Go through these

US regulations about keeping pet turtles

FDA and Small Turtles

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) bans the sale of turtles with a shell length of less than 4 inches as pets because they are often associated with salmonella infections in children.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Some turtle species are protected under the ESA. This means that collecting, harming, or selling these turtles, or their eggs, is illegal without a special permit.

State Laws

Each state may have its own specific regulations on turtle ownership. Some states may require permits, others might ban certain species, and others still might have no regulations at all.

Recommended books and other sources

Turtle Care: How to Care for Pet Turtles Like an Expert (Check on Amazon)

Aquatic Turtles (Complete Herp Care) (Check on Amazon)

The Tortoise Trust Guide to Tortoises & Turtles (Check on Amazon)