Small Turtles: Finding the Ideal Small Pet Turtle

 Doing your research is always advisable before purchasing a pet. Many pets have ended up on Craigslist or given away to another owner because their first owner was not properly groomed. Really, some animals take a lot more work than others. Tortoises are wonderful first pets and are relatively low maintenance, especially small tortoises.

Small Turtles: Finding the Ideal Small Pet Turtle
Small Turtles: Finding the Ideal Small Pet Turtle

 A common occurrence with pet turtles is that owners buy the wrong breed and they seemingly never stop growing! This means they need to move on to a massive tank or find a new home for their surprisingly large turtle that they may have become attached to. In this article, I talk about the types of pet turtles that stay small and give my readers an overview of turtle breeds. Small turtles go by a variety of names, including:

  • Miniature turtles.
  • Dollar turtles.
  • Quarter turtles.
  • Dwarf turtles.

 It is important to note that all of these names refer to the same thing: very small turtles. In our first section we have a list of the best breeds of turtles that stay small and the next section is our list of turtles you should buy with caution if you don't want a big turtle. By browsing through these sections, you will find information that will help you avoid purchasing the wrong type of turtle for you.

Turtle farming and overview of turtle species

 Turtles are one of the most popular exotic pets, and certain breeds of turtles have found their way into the top reptile pets. Small turtles are adorable reptiles that make a handy pet for apartments and homes. They require less space and less time to care for than most other furry animals and reptiles. Turtles come in more than 250 different species worldwide. Only a handful of them remain small even as adults. Due to their simplicity of maintenance and ease of finding a suitable tank, these turtles are in high demand.

Small turtles still require a lot of work

 Don't think that taking care of a turtle is simple. A small turtle is like any pet. They still want your love and attention. A pet turtle will need your care to grow and stay healthy. Regular tank maintenance is necessary unless you want your poor turtle to live in disgusting and less than ideal conditions. You will want to clean your tank approximately every 3 weeks.

 Besides a tank, you may also want a carrier bag or container for your small turtle. This will give you a place to put the turtle during cleaning session quarantines and vet visits. Turtles should be fed about 4-5 times a week and their water source should always be as fresh as possible.

Know the gender

 It is very important to remain aware of the size differences between male and female turtles. As a general rule, males are usually smaller than females. It is very rare for a turtle to stay tiny, but you can find turtles that stay below 5 to 6 inches. Just because they stay small, you still want to buy a good sized aquarium so they can stay active and healthy.

 Luckily, you don't need to spend a lot of money like you would with some types of turtles. Before buying a pet, it's always a good idea to think carefully about the decision. Sleep on it. Do your best to determine if you are ready to take on the responsibility. Next is the fun part: deciding what type of pet to buy.

Advantages of Small Pet Turtles

  • Easier to handle. Simply because of their size, these turtles are much easier for parents and children to handle.
  • Ideal for homes and apartments. Small tortoises are suitable even for keeping in small apartments. The biggest turtles are certainly not.
  • Tank maintenance. The fact is that small turtles need less space and less food than large turtles. This makes cleaning and feeding less time consuming.
  • Adorable and cute. We couldn't resist mentioning this advantage of small turtles. Like puppies and kittens, any little factors really make them more desirable.

An advisory: Be aware of regional laws and endangered species

 As with most reptiles, it is important to keep the rules and regulations around turtles in mind. This will vary from place to place. One of our readers brought up the fact that box turtles are a popular type of pet turtle. In many locations where they are native to, they are protected and endangered. Additionally, many types of turtles are illegal to own without the proper permit in areas where they are considered native. We suggest you find a species of turtle that interests you, then do some research to find out if it is acceptable to keep as a pet in your specific area.

Small pet turtles also need care

 Of course, smaller turtles are much easier to care for and maintain. That being said, even small turtles are a big liability. They want your love and attention. Additionally, tank maintenance is an important part of keeping a turtle (or any amphibian, fish, or reptile for that matter) healthy. You will want to clean the tank about once every two weeks and use a strong filter to keep the water in the tank as clear as possible. If you don't have much experience in these areas, we suggest one of these quick reads.

Top 6 Turtle Species That Stay Small

 Here is our list of the best turtle breeds that stay small. In the United States, it's simple to find all of these turtles. These turtles usually stay under 5 inches. Keep in mind that it is illegal to commercially sell turtles with a carapace length of less than 4 inches in the United States. However, it is still legal to keep, breed and give these turtles to others. For example, a turtle breeder might raise miniature turtles and give them to friends or family.

1. Mud turtles

 The common type of mud turtle usually reaches around 4 to 5 inches in length. Mud turtles live up to about 50 years in captivity. North America and some regions of Africa are home to the mud turtle. Common mud turtles and striped mud turtles grow to around 4.5 inches. Sonoran and yellow mud turtles will grow up to around 6 inches in some cases.

2. Stinkpots

 Often people group musk and mud turtles together because of their similarities. Like mud turtles, stinkpot turtles will live to be around 50 years old. They grow to around 3 to 4 inches in length and stay at that size forever. Stinkpot turtles make excellent pets and are suitable for owners new to turtle keeping. The Stinkpot Stinkpot Turtle is actually one of the smallest turtles in the world. There are four main species of stinkpot turtles: loggerhead, common, flattened, and razorback.

3. Spotted turtles

 Spotted Turtles are semi-aquatic turtle species. A Spotted Turtle can be recognized quickly. They have yellow spots on the neck, legs, carapace and head. The rest of their body is black in color. They eventually grow to be between 3.5 and 5 inches long. A 55 gallon tank is more than enough for spotted turtles. The ideal captive environment would be about 50% water and 50% land with a nice log for basking.

4. Diamondback Terrapins

 One of the oldest animals on Earth is the terrapin turtle. Although probably not the best for inexperienced turtle owners, diamondback turtles make great pets. They are prone to certain fungal infections and shell diseases, so they require a bit more care to stay healthy. They need a larger tank of 70 gallons preferably.

5. Reeve's Turtles (Males)

 Reeve's tortoise is native to Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan. They are distinguished by their rectangular rather than circular hulls. You should check their shell often as this type of turtle is susceptible to many shell diseases. They grow to about 5 inches long. A similar breed to Reeve's tortoise is the Chinese pond tortoise which makes excellent pets and stays about the same size.

6. Box turtles

 A popular breed of pet turtle is the box turtle. Although slightly more risky than other turtles on this risk in terms of growth, box turtles generally do not exceed 6 inches. Both the eastern and ornate box turtles fall under this category. On average, they stall small and usually stay between 4.5 and 6 inches.

Best Turtle Breed That Stays Small: Eastern Musk Turtle

Best Turtle Breed That Stays Small: Eastern Musk Turtle
Best Turtle Breed That Stays Small: Eastern Musk Turtle

 The best beginner turtle for a new turtle owner would be a common stinkpot turtle (Sternotherus Odoratus). It is part of the Kinosternidae family. The Eastern Musk Turtle is an aquatic turtle. They make excellent pets and are a hardy species of turtle. Stinkpot turtles typically have dark brown or black bodies with yellow markings.

 They are very curious, love to explore and sometimes resemble little mountaineers in the way they navigate around aquariums. Unlike some species of turtles, they are not very susceptible to shell disease or other types of disease. Razorback, loggerhead, flattened, and common mud turtles are some varieties.

 Stinkpot turtles rarely, rarely grow beyond 5 inches in length. They are your best bet if you are looking for a turtle that stays small forever. As I mentioned before, Eastern Musk Turtles can live up to 50 years in an aquarium. The ideal tank for a stinkpot turtle should have a slate slab or log for basking, a spotlight will be a low wattage light bulb (~40 watts), hiding places, climbing areas, and a power point. A 20 gallon tank is enough for a single adult stinkpot turtle. The 40 gallon tank can house a pair of stinkpots.

In conclusion: What is the smallest species of turtle?

 The smallest turtle species in the world is the Blanding's turtle (Chersobius signatus), reaching a maximum size of around 3 inches. Unfortunately, because of its endangered status, this species is never, if ever, offered in captivity. Their population is drastically declining due to habitat loss and construction, poaching for the pet trade, and the introduction of non-native predators.

 Many small turtle species, including the Blanding's Turtle, Black-breasted Leaf Turtle, and Bog Turtle, are endangered and therefore not offered in captivity. There are no true species of dwarf or miniature turtles, as most grow to at least 5 inches, even among the smallest species.

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