Turtles That Make Great Pets

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Different people or aspiring pet owners have a different view on how their ideal turtle pets should be, some prefer a turtle that will be social and will not shy away from the attention, while others want a turtle with a long lifespan and others want a turtle that is unique and colorful. It does not matter what specifications you want your turtle to have, but in general, they are among the most popular pets. Despite the fact that there are more than a hund5ed species of turtles, not all of them can make good pets since some grow too big and therefore cannot be domesticated. Others are illegal to domesticate, and it is, therefore, important to do thorough research before settling on the species you should own to avoid being on the wrong side of the law.

Before owning a turtle, it is also vital to remember that these animals are mainly aquatic, and therefore they will need an aquatic setup. Whenever they are housed outdoors, they will need a small pond. If they live indoors, they will require an enclosure that contains submersible pumps and a filtration system. Also, the water needs regular changing to ensure there is always clean water in its habitat. This article will give you a clear insight on the best pet turtles that you should consider whenever you want to own one;

  1. Pond Slider

These turtles are also known as the slider turtle. Red-eared slider turtle, red-eared terrapin, or a water slider turtle. This type of turtle is similar to both Cumberland slider and red-eared slider, and they belong to similar species as the pond sliders. The care requirements of these turtles are the same, and they look similar. These turtles are long-lived, as it is a norm in most turtles. The average length of an adult pond slider is between 6 to 12 inches. Under proper care, a pond slide can live up to 60 years, but on average, they live for about 4o years.  They feed on seafood such as insects, shrimp, and commercial turtle food.

The pond sliders are easy to find and are relatively cheap to acquire, and the process of taking care of them is not difficult. They make very cute pets, and they do not react aggressively by biting or scratching whenever they are handled. If they are not well taken care of, keeping them will be hectic, and they may end up dying. These pets are very popular because of their affordability and ease of taking care, even to those who are not so much into reptiles. These include, for instance, the kids who beg their parents to get them a pet or people who just want a pet around their home. Unfortunately, since these turtles live for long, some people get tired of them and eventually release them in the wild, and that is wrong.


They grow up to between 6 to 12 inches

The average cost is between 5 to 20 dollars

They need a minimum of 40-gallon tank

They need UVB lighting

The average temperatures should be 75 to 80 F

Water temperature should be 75 to 84 F

The basking spot should have a temperature of 90 F

  • Painted turtle

The Painted turtle has four subspecies, namely the eastern painted turtle, southern, midland, and western painted turtle. The subspecies were named after the places they were geographically found. These animals are very beautiful, and they make a great pet for a beginner, and you are assured of a long-lasting relationship that can go for between 25 to 30 years. This, however, means you need to have commitment since that is a long period of taking care of a pet.

The Painted turtles are easy to acquire, and they are nice to look at, and they are fun. These turtles will mostly be so impressive, and only a few enthusiasts will not be impressed. It is stress-free to feed them, and they take food that is commercially made.  It is important to ensure that you give them all the necessary nutrients and vitamin D3 included. The average length of an adult painted turtle is between 6 to 8 inches, and that is a manageable size.


The average price of these animals is between 29 to 80 dollars

The average size is 6 to 8 inches

They need a 5-to-20-gallon tank, and this depends on the size

They need UVB lighting in their tank

The temperature should range from 75 to 85 F

The average water temperature should be 75 F

The basking spot should have an average temperature of 95 F

  • The African Aquatic Side Neck Turtle

This turtle is also known as the African mud turtle or the African Side neck turtle. It is a unique-looking turtle, and this sets it aside from the rest of the common turtles that are found in the US. They have a shell that resembles that of a land turtle, and they also have a beautiful smiling face. The average length of a fully grown African side neck turtle is between 7 to 12 inches, and they can live up to 30 years.  To be comfortable, these turtles need a big tank despite their small size.

The diet of this turtle is slightly different from the rest since it is advisable to not give the North American turtles means this species feed on meat. Some of the meat they eat include fish, cooked chicken, and beef heart.  You can also feed them on some greens, such as lettuce and collard greens. Adults prefer feeding on leafy green vegetables and less meat, but you can also feed them on commercial turtle food. These turtles are very easy to take care of, and they do not hibernate as most turtles do. The African side neck turtles are active all year round. Compared to the American turtles, this species is rare and difficult to find.


They grow to a size of between 7 to 11 inches

They have an average lifespan of 25 to 50 ears

The average cost of one is 30 to 50 dollars

The tanks should be at least 40 gallons

They need UVB lighting

The average temperature should be 80 to 85 F

Water temperature should be 75 F

The basking spot should have an average temperature of 95 F

  • Eastern Box Turtle

The Eastern Box turtle is one of the most popular box turtles kept as a pet.  They are named the eastern box turtles since they originate from the Eastern side of the United States. Unlike the majority of the turtles, these are not aquatic, and that means they do not need an enclosure that has water. You can also choose to hose them outdoors, but it should be secure to ensure they do not escape. This species is small, and in their adult stage, they have an average length of 6 inches. These turtles are not choosy, and they will accept any food to give them, and this means you need to be careful about what you feed them since they can end up consuming toxic food.

The ideal food to give to the Eastern Box turtles is live insects, snails, and grubs.  To supplement this, you can also feed them on vegetables such as collard greens, romaine lettuce, dandelion, and many other vegetables. These turtles are easy to feed and take care of, and they are very friendly hence easy to bond with.  These turtles are known to have a very long lifespan of up to 100 years, but on average, they will live for at least 40 years. This means that you need someone who is committed since they will live for long, and you might get tired in the process. You also need to consider that before choosing this species.


They grow to an average size of 4 to 7 inches

Their lifespan is between 40 to 100 years

The average price is 150 to 400 dollars

They require a tank size of 20 gallons

The outdoor enclosure should be four by 4 feet

They need UVB lighting

The temperatures should range from 75 to 80 F

The basking spot should have an average temperature of 95 F

  • False Map Turtle

The False map turtle is another American aquatic turtle. They are called map turtles due to the lines that run down their bodies and shell, and they resemble the contour lines. These turtles are gorgeous and interesting to look at. The contour lines and raised saw-like back set them apart from the rest of the turtles.  If you are interested in a pet to display them, this is the ideal one. They are very easy to take care of, and they do not have a lot of requirements. The map turtles are generally small, but the female is bigger than the male. The male can comfortably live in a 20 to 25 gallons tank, but a female will need a 7u5 gallons tank.

The map turtles feeding on insects, vegetables, and commercial turtle food.  The only disadvantage of this pet has to acquire a large enclosure for the female, but all the rest are easy to take care of. These turtles do not have a long lifespan compared to the rest, but they can live for about 33 years which is still long and therefore needs a long-time commitment.


The size ranges from 4 to 10 inches

They have an average lifespan of 30 to 50 years

The average price is 5 to 50 dollars

They need a tank of at least 25 gallons

They need UVB lighting

The average temperature should be 80 to 85 F

The basking spot temperature should be 85 to 90 F

  • Razor-Backed Musk Turtles

The Must turtles are generally small turtles that grow to a maximum length of 6 inches. They feed on mealworms, fish, bloodworms, ails, and many other foods.  They can also be fed on aquatic diets such as the Mazuri aquatic Turtle diet.  The average lifespans of this turtle are 20 years. These turtles do not need a large habitat, but the bigger it is, the more comfortable your pet will be. The average size of the tank should be 30 gallons to ensure your pet is comfortable and stress-free.  The feeding is simple, and it is advisable to feed them on leafy greens to supplement their diet. You can also feed them on crickets, snails, fish, and more.

These are easy to find, and they can be found in all reputable breeders and pet stores. These pets can comfortably live among other pets in the same tank. However, the razor-back musk turtles are shy, and they take some time before getting used to the new environment. To get the best behavior and body with these turtles, ensure you give them food, clean water. Due to their shyness, these pets are best when kept as display pets. It is advisable to keep these pets in a place where they are away from the reach of children or ensure the lids know that they should not be handed to to avoid injuries and accidents.


The adults grow up to 6 inches

The average lifespan is 20 years

The average cost is 35 to 100 dollars

They need at least 30 gallons tank

The UVB lighting is needed

The water temperatures should range from 73 to 78 F

The normal temperature should range from 75 to 85 F

The basking area should have an average temperature of 90 F            

  • Spotted Turtle

If you have a small space and you are looking for an aquatic turtle, the spotted turtle is the ideal choice. They are pretty to look at with their spotted shell, and they can live indoors or outdoors provided they have the right housing. These turtles can live for up to 100 years, and this means that they need a long-term commitment, and this is one of the factors you ought to put into consideration before buying. These turtles are not good swimmers, and therefore the water should not be too deep. They need a basking area where they can be relaxing whenever they get the time, and the habitat should also be kept warm always. The ideal diet of the Spotted turtle should have meat and some greens and fruits in it.

  • Yellow-bellied Slider

This is one of the most popular aquatic turtles you should consider keeping as a pet. They are generally hardy provided they get the right diet and other conditions such as lighting and enclosure. Unlike the other species, the yellow-bellied slider is usually active mainly during the day, and this gives the owner an opportunity to observe and bond with his pet all along. They are bigger than most turtles, and this means they need a bigger tank or an outdoor enclosure to ensure they live comfortably.

Due to their popularity, these turtles are easy to find, and you will find the local pet stores or reputable breeders. Before buying them, ensure they have been taken well care of to avoid some health problems in the future.

  • Wood Turtle

The wood turtles are known to be very friendly to humans, provided they get the right handling and interaction. They have very easy compared to most aquatic species. They also need a relatively large enclosure, and this is why they are best kept outdoors. These turtles are not the best swimmers, and this means the water provided needs not to be so deep to avoid drowning, which can be fatal.

The Yellow-bellied sliders need a diet that is rich in protein, and it should comprise meat and leafy greens. They are easy to acquire, but it is illegal to keep them in some states. This means you need to do proper research to ensure that they are legal within your state to avoid breaking the law. It is also crucial to do proper research on reputable breeders before you can buy it. Remember, if you buy from the wrong breeders, they might have some health problems which may lead to early death.

These turtles grow up to a maximum length of bey tween 5 to 8 incuses and have a lifespan of about 50 years. They generally make good and interesting pets, but they need commitment which you should be ready for before buying one. They also need adequate space and specialist equipment to ensure the enclosures are kept warm and clean.

  1. Three-toed Box Turtle

This turtle got its name from the three toes on its hind legs.  These turtles are very similar to the gulf coast box. They are usually shy, but after a routine of feeding them and bonding, they war up for the owner. This pet does not require so much to take care of, and therefore a beginner can perfectly take care of it.  They can vary in color, and they have patterns of orange and red. These turtles enjoy the water more than most of the species, and therefore it is important to provide them with shallow water where they can soak. They also like digging, and therefore you should create an enclosure where they can have the opportunity to dig without escaping. The average cost of one Three-toes turtle is between 4o to 100 dollars, and they grow to a maximum size of  4 to 11inches.  The average lifespan of these turtles is between 15 to 20 years.

  1. Peninsula Cooter

These turtles are mainly found in the state of Florida.  These turtles are readily available and often one of the first species that herp-lovers attempt to care for. They are easy to take care of, and they are among the ideal pets any beginner should consider.  As long as you feed them properly and you provide all the baseline requirements, the peninsula Cooter will live for long and happily. Under the right condition, this species can live up to 30 years, and this means that keeping this [pet is a long-time commitment.

This species is aquatic, and they also prefer a warm temperature of between 75 to 8-0 F, which is the average temperature across Florida almost all year through. These turtles also need high humidity o9f about 70 percent.  Generally, the peninsula Cooter is an omnivore, but it thrives best in a plant-based diet mostly. Throughout the day, this turtle will feed on the aquatic plants. It is also good to feed them with a few insects here and there for the purpose of proteins which are important in their health.

  1. Pink-Bellied Side-neck Turtle

This is one of the gorgeous turtles living. They became popular across the world due to their vibrant coloration.  They have colors such as pink, red, or bright orange. The coloration varies from one turtle to the other. Another unique feature in this reptile is the eye-catching stuff on the shell. They have unique patterns on the bottom of the plastron as well as the carapace. The skin is usually gray with a few pops of color here and there. The pink bellied turtles are lovers of swimming, and therefore they need ample space to swim.

They have large webbed feet, which they use to paddle through the water.  They spend most of the time beneath the water as they play and feed. Despite the fact that they are mostly in water, it is important to provide a basking spot on the land surface, and the average temperatures at this point should be the mid-90s so as to efficiently thermoregulate the body.

  1. Reeve Turtle

They are the smallest member of the Mauremus family, and they are quite manageable. The sizes of this species vary from turtle to turtle, but most of the species that are born in captivity will to an average length of 6 inches, and this makes them smaller than most of the aquatic turtles.  It is easy setting a good habitat for these turtles.  In the enclosure, they need a good and well-spaced swimming area as well as a good basking spot. They do not need a large aquarium to be happy.

 These turtles are not good at swimming, and therefore they need a swallow swimming area to prevent them from drowning.  It is advisable to have a swimming area that is 1.5 to 3 times the length of the turtle.  The reeve’s turtles are not too choosy when it comes to food, and they will accept commercial turtle food products.  You can also feed them on natural leafy greens since they are so healthy.  The diet should be balanced with a calcium to phosphorous ratio of 2:1 to protect them from calcium deficiency diseases which might be dangerous in the future.

  1. Caspian Pond Turtle

The Caspian Pond turtles are very rare today. They were mostly imported from Eastern Europe and the middle east, but they have since stopped due to decreasing population in the wild. There are, however, few reputable breeders who are still selling these turtles. Before adopting this species, you need to have a large enclosure because they reach up to a length of 10 inches when fully grown, and to be happy and comfortable, they need a very spacious habitat.

These turtles thrive best in an outdoor habitat, but you can still keep them in a standard aquarium indoors. They also need a large swimming space, and that means your enclosure must contain a swimming area. They are very good swimmers and also have a penchant for diving deep, and therefore they need a bit deep swimming area. They are also very personable pets that make a great pet to any owner as long as they are taken care of weld.  Just like the dog pets, the Caspian Pond turtles can identify the owner and start to beg for a treat immediately they see you.

  1. Central America Wood Turtle

This species is similar to the wood turtle, but they originate from the hot and humid climate, and they spend less time in the water. It is still important to have a swimming area where they can soak when need be.  The swimming area does not need to be so big since they are mostly on land.  As an owner, you should instead focus on providing the best land-based environment, and this means you need to create a humid and wet environment.  You can use absorbent substrates like the coconut coir or the cypress mulch.  Regular misting paired with the swimming area should always keep the swimming area with a humidity of 75 percent.

 To create a comfortable and appropriate temperature gradient for thermoregulation, place a number of hiding boxes around the enclosure. The basking areas are, however, supposed to be the hottest place in the enclosure, with average temperatures of 90 F.

  1. Ornate Box Turtle

The Ornate Box turtle belongs to the same family as the Desert Box. The ornate turtles are more decorated than the desert turtles despite having less hue. They have a shell that is dark brown with bright yellow spots and stripes, and their heads are yellow-green in color. The care requirements are similar to other box turtles; all they need is water, a basking area, warm temperature, and an omnivore’s diet that contains meat and plant matter. The ornate box turtles can live up to five decades, and they make very awesome decorative pets for someone who wants a lifelong pet. They need a big tank that is approximately 125 gallons. They grow to a maximum length of between 5 to 7 inches. These turtles are affordable, with an average cost of 45 to 300 dollars.

  1. Ornate Wood Turtle

These turtles are terrestrial compared to most of the turtles.  They are mainly found habiting in wooded areas near the streams and ponds.  The ideal tank for this species should be 55 gallons with a shallow swimming area and plenty of plants.  On their face, they have red lines and on some parts of their shell.  The rest of the shell is light brown with a center ridge.  The bellies are usually yellow with some red parches. The Ornate wood turtle is considered one of the most beautiful species. Whenever you want to but this species, it is vital to ensure you buy from a captive breeder since getting the from the wild, it may be hard for them to adapt to the new environment.

 The average cost of this species is between 100 to 175 dollars. TheThe adults grow to a maximum length of between 5 to 8 inches, and they have a lifespan of more than 30 years.

  1. Diamondback Terrapin Turtle

This species has some of the most interesting color patterns any pet turtle can have.  They have dark gray or black shells with a rocky appearance. They have light blue-gray skin that has some black spots. These turtles are mainly found in lagoons, reedy, rashes, and channels along the east coast of the United States. One of the unique features of this species is the fact that they live in slaty water but drink fresh water.  They are timid in the wild but in captivity; they are very social, but this is after they have adapted to the new environment.

They need a 75-gallon tank and a swimming area. The swimming water should not be heated, like is the case in most species.  This species is a bit expensive, with a price of between 200 to 450 dollars. But this is worth the price. The average length of a fully grown diamondback turtle is 5 to 7.5 inches, with a lifespan of between 25 to 40 years.

  1. Spiny softshell turtle

The Softshell turtles are shy, and this is due to the less protection as a result of having a softy shell. This species is considered among the threatened in the wild, but there are many captive-bred. These turtles have a soft, flat shell and a pointed nose. they are brown or green and have small spines lining part of their shell. These species prefer open waters and sandy resting areas, and they spend most of their time basking and foraging for food.

The diet consists of aquatic creatures such as small fish, crayfish, and insects.  This species is easy to take care of, and a responsible beginner can comfortably raise this pet. However, they have specific requirements that need to be adhered to.  They are cheap to acquire with an average cost of 10 to 50 dollars.  Their size is between 5 to 30 cm, and they need a 125-gallon tank to live happily and comfortably. They have an average lifespan of 50 years.

  • Desert Box Turtle

Compared to the ornate Box turtle, The desert turtle is slightly more yellow. This species thrives most in a low humidity environment.  For someone who lives ins a dry area, this is the ideal choice for a turtle pet. They do not need high humidity like the rest. They are mainly found in the southwest and the central United States.  The desert box turtle is cheap to acquire and maintain, smaller, and more popular than most species of the same family. The average cost of a desert box turtle is 50 to 400 dollars. The average length of a fully grown turtle is 5 inches, and they require 50 gallons and ko comfortably live. The average lifespan ranges from 30 to 40 years.


The turtles are incredibly good pets that provide a lot of fun and teach any keeper how to be a responsible owner. They require a lot of care and attention. There are some of the species that will suit your lifestyle better than others, and it is, therefore, good to know all these before settling on which. It is vital to ensure you know how big they will grow to know if you can provide the needed space and the lifespan to know if you can commit throughout their lives.  If you cannot get enough space or commit for, long choose the appropriate pet turtle.

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