Pet Turtles: Should You Get One?

A turtle can be a wonderful pet. However, before you get one, make sure you know what you’re getting into. 

Turtles are among the oldest reptiles on earth. Their hard shell and slow mannerisms make them unique pets. There are many species of turtles. Some prefer to live on land, while others prefer to live in water. Their dietary needs are also different. If you decide to own one, do some research and observations first. If you want to know if you should have a turtle as a pet, keep reading.

Things To Know About Turtles

Don’t expect them to be happy and content simply by placing them in a tank! Turtles can live for decades, which makes them a lifelong commitment. As a pet owner, you need to consider your pet’s habitat, their nutritional needs (from leafy greens to proteins like mealworms) and be comfortable cleaning up after them. Here are some things to know about turtles.


  1. Turtles Have Long Lives

Many turtles, when housed at the right temperature and humidity, exposed to ultraviolet light, and fed a species-appropriate diet, can live for decades. Many pet turtles can outlive their original owners. Their longevity is certainly something for a potential owner to consider before buying a turtle. 

  1. Diet For Turtles

The type of turtle you choose will determine its diet. In general, turtles eat insects, dark leafy greens, mealworms, and feeder fish. What you give them will depend on what kind of turtle you get and how big it is. Turtles don’t necessarily need to be fed every day. However, young turtles require daily feedings. Calcium and vitamin deficiencies are common, so supplementing with these nutrients may help prevent these problems.

  1. They Need Big Habitats

Turtles need elaborate habitats!  Turtles can grow up to 12 inches in length, depending on their species. Turtle breeders say turtle tanks should be five times longer than an adult turtle and contain water that is two and a half times deeper than the turtle’s length. The turtle tanks should have a basking area where they can climb up and bask. Turtles love chewing on rocks, so make sure all the rocks in the tank are bigger than your turtle’s head. 

Additionally, they should be exposed to ultraviolet light regularly to prevent metabolic bone disease (soft shell syndrome). Their tanks need to be fitted with bulbs that produce UVA and UVB light.

Turtles are cold-blooded (ectothermic) and are unable to regulate their internal body temperatures. Turtles need an appropriate temperature in their habitat, especially the water temperature, to survive. Water temperatures between 22.2-27.8°C (72-82°F) are ideal for most aquatic and semi-aquatic species.

  1. Time Consuming

Turtle care requires dedication and time commitment. Turtle tanks should be cleaned regularly and equipped with a good filtration system. Water should be replaced once a week, and the tank should be cleaned at least twice a month. The turtles are messy eaters, so some owners feed them in a separate container outside the tank to keep the tank cleaner longer.

  1. Risks To Health

Turtles can transmit salmonella to humans and other mammals (e.g. dogs and cats), resulting in serious illness. The elderly, pregnant women, young children, and others at risk should avoid contact with turtles or wash their hands thoroughly after touching them. 

  1. Females Can Lay Eggs Without Males

Even if there are no male turtles around, female turtles can lay eggs, but unfertilized eggs will not hatch. Since their environments do not significantly change, pet turtles can lay eggs all year-round instead of adhering to seasonal rules (spring for hatching).

  1. Turtles Know Their Owners!

Turtles recognize their owners by sight and sound! Many owners report that their pets swim up to the surface of the water when they enter the room. Turtles dislike being handled, and it can stress them out. So, limit the handling of your turtle and observe them from a distance.  

  1. Consider The Source

Turtles are sensitive to a lot of factors. It is, therefore, better to purchase a captive-bred animal directly from the breeder. Wild-caught turtles may be stressed and carry diseases. In addition, chances are that the wild turtle will not thrive in captivity. It is illegal to capture a turtle from the wild and keep it as a pet, so make sure you go through the proper channels.

  1. Picking The Right Species

The type of turtle you choose entirely depends on whether you want a terrestrial or aquatic animal. Both have very different needs that must be met in order to prevent illness and stress in the animal. There are about 270 species of turtles. You are sure to find one to suit your lifestyle and space.

Turtles come in a variety of colors that are visually appealing. Colours and the way they interact with you make turtles a wonderful pet. 

  1. They Can Have Health Problems

Turtles are surprisingly sensitive to their environment and diet and can get sick (e.g  irregular shell growth or metabolic bone disease) if they are lacking. You can keep your pet healthy by feeding them a diet meant for their breed. The light and temperature of their surroundings also contribute to their well-being. 

  1. Cost Of Care And Maintenance

In the long run, care and maintenance are more expensive than the turtle itself. Filters, aquariums, and turtle food cost a lot of money. If you plan on keeping a turtle, make sure you set money aside. 

Final Words…

Turtles can be wonderful pets. It can be incredibly enjoyable to own them if you know how to set up and maintain their environments and feed them correctly. However, it is important to know what you are getting into before you get one. Research and preparation will go a long way and is worth the effort since turtles are fascinating creatures that are great to be around. Use this article to guide your research and determine whether turtle ownership is right for you.

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