Is A Kiddie Pool Good For Turtles?

kiddie pool for turtles

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

I started my turtle-keeping journey with the kiddie pools! It’s no shame admitting that I could not afford even the cheapest tank. Now I hear people saying kiddie pools are not suitable for turtles. I feel I should share my experience so that you get clarity on what to expect.

The inflatable kiddie pools are unfit for turtles as they can puncture the walls with claws. However, the non-inflatable kiddie pools can be the perfect homes for these reptiles. The pools have a sturdy and stable frame. Besides, they can accommodate all the essentials for turtles.

How can you turn the kiddie pools into a luxurious turtle habitat? Are the inflatable kiddie pools useless for turtles? Keep reading to get the answers.

Key Takeaways

  • The non-inflatable kiddie pools can be a lovely home for turtles.
  • You can make a proper turtle ecosystem within the kiddie pools.
  • The kiddie pool turtle ponds are cheaper than the tank and surface mount ponds.

Does A Kiddie Pool Make A Good Home For Turtles?

To be honest, the answer depends on which type of kiddie pool you have. The inflatable pools can never be the permanent house of your turtles.

The inflatable pools come flat, and we pump air inside to give them a shape or structure. The building materials are, hence, soft thermoplastics. These are the same polymers manufacturers use in raincoats (the low-quality ones).

Turtles have large claws, and you are expecting an accident if your pets decide to scratch the pool surface. So, a BIG NO to inflatable kiddie pools.

Surface Mount Pond For Turtles

But are inflatable kiddie pools useless for turtles, after all? Of course not! You can make a temporary, fun home for turtles with these pools. Wondering how? I will dedicate a separate section on this topic.

By now, you may think kiddie pools are bad ideas for turtles. Hey! Don’t just judge yet.

All I said is inflatable kiddie pools can only be useful as temporary homes for turtles. Let’s talk about the non-inflatable kiddie pools. Shall we?

Non-inflatable kiddie pools have a more stable structure. 3 basic types available are,

  • Hard plastic kiddie pool
  • Stiff plastic with a soft base kiddie pool
  • Vinyl-lined kiddie pool

Each one of these can be turned into a permanent turtle enclosure. I started with the hard plastic kiddie pool, and after a year or two, I switched to a vinyl-lined one.

Kiddie pools can accommodate all necessary supplies for turtles. Yes, you may have to DIY some projects to make adjustments. But that’s all. Turtles will thoroughly enjoy the kiddie pools if the surroundings feel like home.

So, are the kiddie pools bad for turtles? The non-flatable ones are definitely not. In the following sections, I will tell you how exactly to set up the kiddie pool for your pets.

snapping turtle in a black tub
Owner: Josh Kelley

Building A Kiddie Pool For Turtles? Here’s How To Do It

You can not just toss your turtle in a kiddie pool. Instead, building a proper habitat is essential. Your turtles will suffer if you miss out on even a single factor. The step-by-step process of setting up a kiddie pool for turtles is shared below,

1. Gauge The Size

Whether you put the turtles in an aquarium, pond, or kiddie pool, managing enough space is crucial. These reptiles can not thrive in a congested habitat.

Ideally, turtles require 10 gallons of water space for each 1 inch of their carapace. So, you must buy a minimum 30-gallon tank for a 3-inch turtle.

I personally recommend aiming for a bigger enclosure. This is because other supplies and decorations will also occupy space in the habitat. Therefore, the larger the home, the more comfortable the turtles will be.

Before heading to the shopping, measure the carapace of your turtle. Next, calculate the required kiddie pool size for the pet.

2. Buy The Pool You Want

As mentioned, non-inflatable kiddie pools come in 3 types. The hard plastic ones are quite popular and cheap, too. These are mostly perfect for small turtle pets, not for the large species because of the height constraints. 

Next, the stiff plastic pool with soft bases is slightly expensive. But they offer the perfect depth needed for the medium and large turtles.

Finally, the vinyl-lined kiddie pools are the OG here. They are more convenient because of the framing and material selection. These pools will last longer than the ones mentioned above. Also, the vinyl-lined kiddie pools can easily accommodate turtles of any size.

You can select any type of non-inflatable kiddie pool, keeping your budget in mind. These pools are available in all sizes, designs, and colors. Thus, do not worry about the aesthetics at all.

3. Location Selection And Preparation

Haven’t you marked the location of the pool yet? The kiddie pools can be set up both indoors and outdoors. But of course, there will be size limitations in the in-house arrangements. Consider every pros and cons before making your hands dirty.

Apart from the hard kiddie pools, the other two are foldable. So, it is not just throwing decorations and pouring water into these pools. You may have to invest a little energy to stabilize the habitat frame. But don’t worry! Even a 3-year-old can do the kiddie pool setup in minutes.

Select an even floor if you plan to keep the turtle kiddie pool habitat indoors. For the outdoor setups, eliminate hard and sharp rocks from the ground. Otherwise, uneven load distribution because of those lumps can lead to puncture and a disaster in the turtle enclosure.

I suggest putting plastic bags on the ground or yard first and placing the kiddie pool over it. This way, there is less risk of leakage or puncture.

You can rinse the kiddie pools before you move forward to remove any dirt or chemical residuals. But most pools come pre-washed and require no cleaning.

4. Let’s Focus On The Decorations First

Kiddie pools are lightweight, which is not an advantage at all. Any windy gush will trip the pools over in seconds. So, we need to build a solid base and add some weight to the home first.

I use pebbles and gravel (medium-sized) to layer the kiddie pool bottom. The smaller rocks pose a danger as turtles might choke on them.

One of my friends went for loose soil as the kiddie pool bedding. It worked for him. But with these substrates, you have to settle for more frequent cleanups.

In the case of pebbles, pre-wash them before laying in the kiddie pool. On the other hand, pre-washing is not necessary for soil bedding. However, you have to change the pool water until the dirt is out. Quite a hassle, no?

Besides the substrate, add large rocks, rock stacks, and logs to the kiddie pool. You can even build caves by rearranging the stone stack.

I highly recommend adding live plants to any turtle habitat. The vegetation makes the enclosure homely and acts like a good hiding spot for the pets.

Well, yes! You would need soil and substrate to grow the plants. The easiest trick is to go for plants that thrive without beddings and only need anchors.

Some owners place the plants in small tubs and add them to the kiddie pool setup. Both these hacks work, so choose any.

Raising a turtle and taking care of the live plants at the same time can seem like a hassle for many. You can go for the plastic plants in such scenarios. But remember the risks of putting artificial plants in the pool. The turtles may chew the plastic and choke on it.

5. What About The Essentials?

You already know the essentials required in a turtle tank if you have done the bare minimum research. The creatures need a heating and a UV source, a filtration media, and a basking platform.

Stacked stones and logs already work as basking docks. So, providing an artificial platform is not necessary. Plastic plates or foam sheets are alternatives to the log, rock, and commercial docks. Add a ramp from the water to the platform if necessary.

Next, for indoor turtles, you have to install a heating plus UV light. As the kiddie pools are set up on the ground, use a lamp stand to hold the bulbs. The sun is enough for outdoor kiddie pool homes to provide the pets with heat and UV rays.

The problem with an outdoor kiddie pool turtle pond is the habitat position. You must place the pool in a place that receives sufficient sunlight and includes shade. The direct sunlight can overheat the water, and the pets might look for a shade to cool off. Otherwise, the scorching sun will burn their skins.

I put my kiddie pools against the big tree or my garage walls (south-facing). This way, my turtles in the kiddie pond receive the mist morning light. Also, they can swim in the shade when the sun is directly overhead.

An umbrella set on a stand is an excellent way to offer shade to the turtles. The best part is that you can rotate and bend the umbrella according to the sun’s position.

Finally, let’s talk about the filtration system.

Turtles are shameless enough to eat and shit in the same place. Without regular cleaning, the enclosure water soon becomes hazy and smelly. The best way to get rid of the stink is to install a filter in the habitat.

Though a canister filter fits the tanks, installing the device on the kiddie pool is not viable, considering the fragile structure. You can buy the mini filters designed for smaller tanks or DIY the filtration bucket yourself.

Just take a container and stuff it with pebbles, spongy medas, fibers, charcoal, and bioballs. Then attach a pump so that the device can suck in water and channel it inside the box. There, the stacked media will trap the filth and circulate fresh water from another side.

Does the process sound complicated? In reality, it is not. This article provides a detailed guide on DIYing the pool filter.

Are you wondering whether you should install a heater or not? Well, the device may not seamlessly fit on the kiddie pools. You might have to DIY a separate frame to hold the heater underwater.

Do not worry about the plastic build of the heater. The modern ones are compatible with plastic surfaces, too.

Outdoor kiddie pools need no heaters in summer and hot seasons anyway. The indoor turtles can also live without the water heater if the weather is hot and humid. Still, I suggest installing a mini heater as the temperature always drops by a few degrees indoors.

You better move the turtles to a warm home in the winter to avoid hibernation.

zoo med turtle tub kit

6. Any Security Issue?

You may not know, but your turtles are excellent climbers. They use their sharp claws to walk out of the enclosure. While the large walls of the aquariums prevent escaping, what about the kiddie pools?

I agree the hard plastic kiddie pool walls are too low. Hence, the water level and the dock height should be a bare minimum. This is why these pools make extraordinary homes only for small turtles and shallow-shelled turtles.

On the contrary, the vinyl-lined pool and the stiff plastic with soft-based kiddie pool walls are high enough. As a result, turtles can not reach the top. Yet, stay alert when building the land area and carefully measure the height.

Ideally, turtles are comfortable at a water depth of 1.5 to 2 times their shells. Keep the dock 2 – 3 inches higher than the water level. In short, the land area should be at such a height that the turtles can not access the pool wall top.

Build fences around the enclosure if you plan to turn the kiddie pool into an outdoor pond. Also, you should cover the roofs with chicken wires. Otherwise, your pets will expect a sudden visit from the predators.

Such security mesh is not necessary for indoor turtles.

7. It’s The Showtime

Now that you have put together all the pieces, pour the fresh tap water into the pool. If you notice dirt floating in the water, siphon it and refill it again. Later, add the dechlorinating solution to the water to achieve the ideal composition.

Wait for a day at least and release the turtles in their new home!

How To Use Inflatable Kiddie Pools For Turtles?

As mentioned, the inflatable kiddie pools are a temporary, fun place for turtles. To be more specific, these are vacation homes for indoor turtles.

See, the indoor turtles need a day out in the sun occasionally. These pets thoroughly enjoy the direct sunlight and soak in the UV.

So, at the end of autumn, just before winter, use the kiddie pools to sunbathe the turtles. Just throw some heavy stones and pour water into the pool. Dechlorinate the water and wait for a day.

When the sun is up, and the weather is perfect the next day, let your turtle play outside under the sunlight. Yes, shade is still necessary. So, use the umbrella trick to prevent your turtles from burning.

Do not forget to add a temporary basking dock for the pet.

This fun bath will last for 1 to 2 hours. Keep an eye on the turtle the entire time to avoid predators.

You can take your turtles out for this bath any day in the summer, autumn, or spring. Direct sunlight helps the turtles boost their immunity and promote healthy shedding.

Owner: Josh Kelley

Are The Kiddie Pools Expensive?

The kiddie pools are way cheaper than the tanks and ponds. Trust me or not, the 55-gallon hard plastic kiddie pool will cost $10 – $15 at Walmart.

Of course, the other essentials cost more or less the same, but you can always DIY projects to cut the expense.

Last year, I helped my friend set up his kiddie pool for the pet turtle. The total cost was roughly $150. No kidding. Here is the list of expenses,

  • Kiddie Pool: $10
  • Pebbles and Gravels: $5
  • Mini Filter: $25
  • Heater: $10
  • Lamp: $50
  • Bulb Stand: $20
  • Total Cost: $120

Before You Go…

Kiddie pools can be your turtle’s next home. Though the pets thrive in these setups, building a proper turtle ecosystem with ponds or tanks is a dream for all owners. In the attached article, I have talked about 18 DIY ideas for setting up a turtle’s outdoor habitat.

18 DIY Ideas For An Outdoor Turtle Habitat [Turtle Paradise]

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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