Turtles as Pets: Do Turtles Make Good Pets?

 Yes, turtles make great pets, but they're not for everyone. If you are ready to own one, they can be incredibly rewarding pets. By doing the proper research and preparing well before you have your turtle, you can take steps to ensure the health and longevity of your turtle.

Turtles as Pet: Do Turtles Make Good Pets?
Turtles as Pet: Do Turtles Make Good Pets?

In this guide, you will learn:

  • Why do turtles make good pets?
  • Reasons Why Turtles Don't Make Good Pets
  • Reasons Not To Own A Pet Turtle
  • FAQs

Why do turtles make good pets?

They are funny !

 Turtles in general can be extremely fun, interesting, and cute pets. If you are considering raising turtles, getting eggs and hatchlings is one of the most rewarding things that can happen to you!

They are interesting to watch

 They make great pets as they can be extremely fun during mealtime! Most turtle species will learn to associate humans with food and will even beg for food like dogs do. They will often come towards the tank or run to the front of their enclosure when you approach them.

 Feeding pet turtles is great fun and providing a variety of foods can be great to watch your turtle enjoy. They will hunt for feeder fish, chase worms and snails, or seek out hidden snacks in the enclosure if desired. Turtles will often swim towards you and chase your fingers around the tank. They can be partially trained and, in general, are very nice to have!

They come in many varieties

 Turtles are a rare animal and often quite beautiful animal. Few people keep pet turtles, so anyone who does will likely be an individual compared to most pet owners.

 Turtles come in all sorts of colors, and it's great fun to find which species suits you best and which is the most visually appealing. Turtles are an excellent option of pet due to their bright display of colors and the interaction they provide. They can be great conversation starters and attract anyone visiting or living in your home.

They are great transitional pets if you have ever kept fish

 It is a fantastic transition species from aquariums to other reptiles and vice versa. Personally, I was keeping fish long before I started with turtles, which made the transition to reptiles easier.

 Although they require good water quality and much of the equipment for turtles is the same as for fish, there are aspects of turtles not present in fish that are necessary for keep other reptiles (especially UVB lighting!). If you want to keep fish as a reptile keeper or reptiles as a fish keeper, turtles can be a great intermediate animal to transition into and learn about uncommon terms and gear.

Keeping them can help preserve their species

 Turtles are one of the fastest declining vertebrates in nature, and many different species go extinct or come close each year. By choosing a turtle species to keep that is in decline in the wild, you can contribute to the conservation of the species.

 Even if some turtle species are more expensive and rarer than others, preserving them helps to maintain the population in case they lose their natural habitat. Keeping native turtle species can ensure that their captive populations exist and will continue for generations to come. Conservation is the goal of almost all turtle keepers.

Reasons Why Turtles Don't Make Good Pets

 While there are a variety of reasons why turtles are great pets, there are just as many, if not more, reasons why they aren't great pets.

Turtles are messy

 Turtles, primarily, can be messy creatures. Aquatic species of turtles, in particular, often spoil the food they eat. Although they will accept many different types of food, they won't hesitate to tear even pellets in the water. This can lead to reduced water quality and a potentially smelly water mess.

 Without proper filtration, water changes, and filter media cleaning, a turtle enclosure will quickly turn to cloudy or green water with an unhappy, unhealthy turtle. In addition to spoiling their food, turtles create a lot of waste after eating their food. Heavy filtration is necessary to properly break down waste and keep your water clean and clear.

 Many people who are unprepared with the proper filtration or neglect to do enough water changes have to overhaul their entire setup and clean everything out. It can be time-consuming, messy, and an unpleasant experience.

They are an important commitment

 Many people are unprepared for the time commitment that turtles can be. Part of maintaining high, clear water quality is spending time cleaning the facility. This can be done in a number of ways, including doing water changes or cleaning the filter media.

 You will need to be prepared to dedicate at least 1 hour per week to turtle maintenance. This can be spread over the week, or all done at the same time at the end of the week. For instance, you may feed your turtle in a separate tub for 15 minutes each day while also refilling a little amount of water. This will distribute the time needed to keep your enclosure clean throughout the week. Rather, you can feed the turtle in its enclosure, but by the end of the week, uneaten food and waste will likely have clogged your filter (or at least messed it up) and you'll need to do a lot of maintenance.

 Changing most of the water and cleaning the filter material will be necessary if the tank is not well maintained. Turtles require dedication to their needs, and you must be prepared to devote time to their long-term health.

Turtles do NOT like to be handled

 Turtles are not interactive pets. Handling a turtle will only stress the animal and can lead to many health problems in the future if done too often. Turtles do not like humans, they tolerate them as well as possible.

 Turtles may associate you with food and beg for food on their enclosure walls, but once fed they often want nothing to do with you. They are still wild and undomesticated animals like cats or dogs, so they will prefer a dark hiding place or an area away from the hustle and bustle than a human hand 9 times out of 10. Even if the tortoise is still at the walls of enclosure, it is likely that they are still begging for food, even if they have just eaten.

 Diamondback Terrapins in particular are known for this. It is important to keep this fact in mind for the benefit and well-being of your turtle. Children in particular often struggle to grasp this concept. Turtles are not a pet that you can "cuddle" or pet, they are an animal that you can observe and enjoy without getting physical with.

Turtles can make you sick

 Not only is there a risk to the turtle's health if you interact with it too often, but there is also a risk to you. Part of keeping the turtle tank clean is also for your good. Otherwise, the turtle may be carrying pathogens that can make you sick. Salmonella was rampant around the same time that red-eared sliders were extremely popular, and the two are thought to be interrelated.

 Young children put the turtles in their mouths and were exposed to salmonella. Although turtles are no more likely to carry this pathogen than other exotic pets, the large number of people interacting with them has caused an increase in cases and correlation.

Turtles can outgrow captivity

 Turtles are a pet that many cannot care for enough, as most species grow extremely large. Red-eared sliders are the most common species of pet turtle, but can grow to massive sizes. Females can grow over 10 inches, resulting in many factors.

 The turtle will need plenty of room to swim, about 1-2 gallons of water per inch of shell. Therefore, for an adult red-eared slider, a minimum tank or enclosure size of 100 gallons would be necessary, but 200 to 300 gallons is preferred. Turtles will appreciate every gallon of space you provide them. There is no enclosure too large for most species of adult turtles which are good swimmers.

 Red-eared sliders, map turtles, diamondback tortoises, and painted turtles are all examples of turtles that grow quite large and will thrive in a massive enclosure, preferably a pond. Many people are unable to keep aquariums of 100 gallons and above, so if you can't provide a tank of that size or an indoor mini pond, or an Find a less common species that stays smaller for your outdoor pond!

They can get expensive to maintain

 Along with the turtles getting bigger and needing more space, this leads to an exponential increase in the cost of keeping the turtle. Besides the cost of the turtle, there will be a lot more food you need to provide your turtle, as it will eat more as it gets bigger (compared to when it was sub-adult or newborn). More waste will result from increased use, and more room for water implies more water to filter.

 High power filters that return the volume of the enclosure 2-3 times are highly recommended to maintain high water quality. The cost of filters, the larger enclosure, and long-term maintenance can be as high as $700, though you can be frugal with your turtle to keep it down.

Turtles can be dangerous

 It can be difficult to keep up with larger turtles, as they can more easily escape or injure you or others who try to interact with the turtle. Turtle bites hurt, but their claws can be just as dangerous if you're not careful when handling them.

 The larger the turtle, the harder it is to handle. Although it is recommended that you do not handle your turtle unless necessary, it will become unavoidable at some point. Larger turtles have extremely strong legs and strong limbs, and if you don't hold them tightly, they will break your grip.

Many turtles are considered invasive

 When it comes to escape, red-eared sliders are the most invasive turtle species in the world, and people often release them into the wild. Release of invasive species has a severe impact on native turtle populations, hence it is never advised to release your pet turtle into the wild. It can have devastating effects, introducing a breeding group of new species or introducing pathogens into healthy populations, wiping them out.

Reasons Not To Own A Pet Turtle

Size requirements

 Most turtle species can grow very large, so plan accordingly! Most aquatic turtle species will need AT LEAST 75-100 gallons of swimming space to thrive. If not, your turtle's growth might be hindered and it might not be healthy. Turtles will not act naturally or settle for an enclosure that is too small.

 Most people don't have room for massive aquariums or indoor mini ponds. A well-fenced outdoor pond is an excellent alternative to indoor aquariums for many species of cold-tolerant turtles. Larger turtles correspond to more expensive filters, larger enclosures, more food, and generally higher costs.


 Turtles are very messy creatures. Their water can quickly become dirty and smelly or lead to health issues for your turtle. Not only that, but a dirty aquarium is very unsightly to see in your home.

 You should continue to change the water regularly, clean the filter, or take measures (such as feeding outside the enclosure) to keep the water clean. Otherwise, your tank may quickly become overgrown with algae or generally dirty. Clean water is the key to a happy and healthy turtle!

Not interactive

 Turtles, unlike pets like dogs, are cats, do not appreciate the presence of humans. They associate people with food and at best will tolerate it. Tortoises will beg for food, but once fed they will run away from people and only in rare cases will they tolerate or enjoy being held or petted.

 In general, turtles like to keep to themselves and won't enjoy too much interaction, as it can impact their health if handled too much. This will stress them out and can lead to various problems. Once a week or intermittent handling for short periods of time will not harm your turtle. Many children and adults enjoy being able to hold or interact with an animal on a daily basis, but this is not ideal for turtles. Turtles appreciate you for the food but not for the companionship. They like to be left alone.


 Turtles can be quite expensive to maintain. The price is not necessarily in the actual cost of the turtle but in the long term care and maintenance. The cost of upgrading filters, upgrading aquariums, and food for your turtle can quickly add up. Keeping a turtle is a constant, long-term investment, so make sure you have some cash on hand if you decide to keep turtles!

 They can be very expensive if poorly maintained and require a trip to the vet. Even with the best care, problems can still happen, and even for simple medication, vet costs can be very expensive.


How do I give my turtle up for adoption?

 Most local rescue or adoption agencies will take in unwanted turtles. Craigslist is a great option for rehoming your pet, or online social media groups work just as well for finding your turtle a new home. Many shelters and rescues are filled with red-eared sliders, so sometimes it's better to find someone with a fenced-in pond or enclosed outdoor area to hold your unwanted turtle than to seek out a rescue.

Do turtles make good pets for children?

 Not particularly, since young children generally want to take care of their pets and turtles are not an animal that likes or tolerates being held too often. However, if your child has done enough research on turtle species and is willing to take on the responsibility, they can be a very, very rewarding pet in the long run. They can be a lifelong commitment, but can form a special bond with children and inspire a lifelong passion for wildlife and conservation.

How how much it costs to keep a turtle as a pet?

 Keeping turtles can be inexpensive if you buy tanks rather than aquariums, keep things outdoors to save heating costs, use brumation to cut costs during the winter months, or build your own. filters to avoid high filtration costs. At least expensive, I can personally create a suitable red ear slider habitat outdoors with a 110 gallon storage tank and filter for $100-$200. If you use purchased aquariums and filters, turtles can become an expensive hobby and cost between $250 and $500. These prices will vary depending on the size of tank you will need when they are adults and the cost of equipment for this setup.

In conclusion: are turtles difficult to maintain?

 Turtles are not very difficult to care for. They just need to understand their needs and know what to look for when caring for them. Understanding the need for proper filtration and high quality water, and varying the diet will go a long way in turtle farming. 

 By making sure you spend time cleaning filters and changing your water regularly, you'll eliminate the need for overhauling enclosures and time-consuming massive cleanings. All in all, if done right and with investment of time and money, turtles can be rewarding and amazing pets to keep.

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