If you’re wondering if turtles are good pets or not, you’ve come to the right place. Even though these little critters seem unassuming, not all of them are easy to care for!
This guide will tell you if turtles make good pets, and which species you should consider first if you’re a beginner.
Table of Contents
- Are Turtles Good Pets?
- What Makes Them Good Pets?
- Do Turtles Make Good Pets For Inexperienced Owners?
- Do Turtles Feel Affection For Their Owners?
Are Turtles Good Pets?
Turtles make fantastic pets! But they’re not for everyone.
These reptiles are more exotic than your average fish or domesticated mammal. Many people assume that they don’t require much upkeep because they’re slow-moving. However, these animals have distinct needs like any other creature you keep in captivity.
They’re also vastly different from any other pet you might have. These animals aren’t going to shower you with love or go with you on walks. Turtles can definitely be good pets, but only if you know what you’re in for and understand the ownership experience.
What Makes Them Good Pets?
There’s a lot to love about turtles. These unique reptiles are shy and not as flashy as more personable animals, but they make up for the lack of pomp and circumstance in many other ways.
Here are just a handful of reasons why turtles make such excellent pets for the right person.
1. They Don’t Cost Much To Buy
Compared to other popular pets, turtles are affordable. Purebred puppies can cost thousands; even a tank full of fish can set you back a pretty penny. But turtles? They cost anywhere from $20 to $200.
The exact cost of getting a turtle largely depends on its species and size. But you likely won’t have to pay much to get one.
It’s important to note that you should always go to a reputable breeder or pet store. Never “adopt” a turtle you find in the wild. They rarely do well in captivity and can carry nasty diseases that put you and the turtle’s health at risk.
Fortunately, it’s not hard to find turtles for sale. Many big pet store chains offer them, and finding a local breed is easy. You can even buy turtles online these days!
2. Turtles Don’t Need Complex Habitats
Make no mistake: Turtles have distinct needs when creating an enclosed habitat. However, setting up a comfortable home for them is more straightforward than you think.
There may be a learning curve if you need to get used to controlling humidity levels for reptiles. But there’s plenty of great equipment to help you get things right and learn how to maintain the environment.
Overall, turtles don’t need massive environments. Again, it all depends on the size and species of your turtle. However, most do fine in moderately sized tanks.
Some species require clean water for swimming, easy access to land, and a carefully controlled environment with the right temperature and humidity. It sounds complex at first, and it might feel overwhelming when you first start.
But one of the reasons why turtles are good pets is that they’re hardy and adapt well to simple living environments. You don’t need to go over the top with exotic plants or difficult-to-find decor. You can go all out if you want, but turtles are happy either way. As long as you stick to the essentials and remain vigilant to maintain the habitat, turtles will do just fine!
3. Turtles Are Quiet
Have you ever heard a turtle make noise?
Contrary to popular belief, these creatures actually can vocalize! They’re capable of making hissing noises whenever they feel stressed or aggressive.
But that rarely happens in captivity.
You may hear your turtle vocalize in times of stress initially, but those moments will likely become few and far between as your new pet gets comfortable. These animals are some of the quietest around.
They’re so quiet that you can easily keep them in your bedroom!
4. There’s Tons Of Variety
Did you know that there are over 300 turtle species in the world? Of course, not all of them are capable of living in captivity. But there are more available turtle species to own than most people realize.
You can stick with the common musk and mud turtles. Or, you can go with something more exotic. As turtles become more popular among reptile enthusiasts, breeders are creating new color morphs, too.
From albino red-eared sliders to painted turtles with striking color patterns on their shells, there’s no shortage of options out there!
5. Turtles Can Live For Decades
If you want to have a turtle as a pet, be prepared for the long haul. Turtles can live for decades! It’s not uncommon for these animals to live for around 40 years in captivity (with some living as long as 60 years).
To us, this is yet another reason why turtles make good pets. They can be with you for most of your life! You can’t say the same thing with other common domesticated animals.
6. They Are (Relatively) Low Maintenance
Turtles have unique demands you must meet. There is still a need for regular cleaning, vet visits, and habitat upkeep. But when you compare the neediness of a cat or dog, turtles are pretty easygoing.
These creatures are naturally shy. They tuck themselves in their shells when they get nervous and aren’t keen on frequent handling. As a result, you don’t have to spend every hour of the day keeping them happy.
It’s a far cry from what you’d have to do with a puppy. Dogs require months of training, constant attention, and regular walks around the block several times a day.
That’s not the case with turtles.
They’re relatively hands-off. Turtles make good pets because you can still develop a great bond with them, but hours of daily attention are not necessary.
Do Turtles Make Good Pets For Inexperienced Owners?
Turtles can make suitable pets for beginners, but there are some caveats.
Despite all the reasons why these animals make good pets, they can still be too much for some novice pet owners to handle. We mentioned that the reptiles are relatively low maintenance and don’t require complex habitats. However, there are exceptions out there.
Some turtle species will need more attention than others, and newbies can quickly find themselves over their heads. The health and well-being of the animal is the most important thing, so you must do your homework and understand what it takes to raise the species you consider getting.
Fortunately, there are plenty of great low-maintenance turtle species available. Some of the most popular are mud and musk turtles. The care requirements of mud and musk turtles are similar, and the primary differences lie in their physical characteristics.
These are turtles that stay small, measuring only four to five inches long. They require access to clean water for swimming and land for basking. The most common varieties people keep as pets include:
- Eastern Mud Turtle
- Common Mud Turtle
- Striped Mud Turtle
- Yellow Mud Turtle
- Mississippi Map Turtle
- Stinkpot Musk Turtles
- Razorback Musk Turtle
- Flattened Musk Turtle
- Loggerhead Musk Turtle
Another option is the famed painted turtle. They’re appropriately named for their beautiful green and yellow coloration. These turtles can get as big as eight inches, requiring larger enclosures. Typically, you’ll see these varieties offered by breeders and pet stores:
- Eastern Painted Turtle
- Midland Painted Turtle
- Southern Painted Turtle
- Western Painted Turtle
If you’re a newer reptile enthusiast, it’s best to stick with one of the low-maintenance species above. These turtles make good pets without being too much of a handful.
You can eventually branch out as you get more comfortable raising turtles. The more exotic species may have more stringent environmental needs and might be less adaptable than the species mentioned above.
Information For Parents
Many parents consider turtles as the first pet for their young children. While it can be a healthy experience, you should know a few things. Generally, experts agree that children should never have turtles on their own.
While these creatures are low-maintenance, they still have many essential care requirements. Young kids simply aren’t capable of handling those needs on their own.
If you plan to practice co-ownership of the turtle with your child, that’s wonderful! But you must ensure that you’re keeping the turtle healthy and not leaving those all-important care duties to your child alone.
Expert Tip: You must also teach your child good hygiene when handling the turtle and its environment. These reptiles can carry salmonella bacteria in their digestive tracts. Salmonella can cause serious health concerns in children and adults, so you must remember to handle the animal carefully and wash your child’s hands immediately after touching the turtle!
Do Turtles Feel Affection For Their Owners?
There’s no way to know for sure what turtles are thinking. The animals are notoriously skittish and often retreat into their shells whenever they get scared. They’re hard to read and don’t put their emotions on full display like other animals.
While no scientific evidence exists to prove that turtles have affection towards owners, seasoned reptile enthusiasts will tell you that the animals have fantastic personalities. Many people report that their turtles slowly grow accustomed to their presence. They get comfortable enough not to hide in their shells whenever you come around.
Some even display more activity whenever they notice their owner’s presence. Instead of being the shy animals we know them to be, they get used to their owners and show an eagerness to interact.
As long as you know what you’re signing up for, turtles can make very good pets. There are a number of species that are low-maintenance and a joy to own no matter how much experience you have!
It’s quite rewarding to care for a pet over such an extended period of time, and seeing their personality develop. Give it a try!