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So you finally caved… Your kids have been asking for the perfect pet turtle for months now and they’ve worn you down. Now that you’ve said yes, take a beat to find the right pet turtle for your family.
While it may seem like you need to pop into the nearest pet shop and emerge with a cute little turtle with the perfect set-up, it’s important to do a bit of research first. Let us get you started with this list of 7 types of pet turtles perfect for beginners like you.
Just a note: While it’s easy to buy a turtle, it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly. Turtles have many needs and very long lifespans. Make sure you’re ready to go into this for the long haul.
Known for a distinct red color on the side of the head, these turtles are native to the Southern United States. If you’ve ever seen someone peddling a tiny little turtle in a brightly colored, equally tiny tank, it was probably one of these guys.
- The average lifespan is up to 30 years.
- Commonly found on beaches.
- Distinct color pattern.
- Can reach an average size of 6 to 8 inches.
- With its peculiar diet and size, more extensive care will need to be provided by both the parent and child over time.
These turtles are also commonly found across the United States and Canada. With a smaller size, these turtles are easier to take care of which makes these a good choice for beginners. It is also very difficult to resist the cool colors that are present on these turtles.
- Smaller size and easier care.
- A very common variety of turtle.
- Have a lifespan of up to 50 years.
- If you are an individual that does not like colorful pets, this turtle might not be for you.
- Painted turtles are aquatic, so they require a lot of water in their tank. This needs to be cleaned regularly, especially since they enjoy eating while in the water.
The Box Turtle is characterized by its yellow markings and spots. What is quite interesting about these particular turtles is that they have a longer lifespan. Some can be found living up to 100 years. With an average size of 5 to 7 inches, this turtle is a good choice for a beginner.
- Very long lifespan to share life memories with.
- Not particular when it comes to diet. It can have fruits, vegetables, and insects.
- When living inside, the turtle might have to be misted several times a week to keep it wet.
The Eastern Box Turtle is the proverbial “beast from the east” on this list in terms of its colorful pattern. Arguably, no other turtle on this list compares with the vibrant and colorful patterns of reds and yellows that are present on their shells, heads, and legs. It is mostly found along the east coast of the United States but it can be found as far west as Texas. This turtle enjoys its time mostly on land as compared to other turtles that are more aquatic.
- Very long life span of up to 100 years.
- Most colorful turtles on the list.
- The Eastern Box Turtle can have anxiety at first and may hide in its shell as a result. However, the turtle will become friendly once it becomes used to its environment.
Mud turtles might be among the smaller prospective pets on this list. As their name suggests, these turtles will often bury themselves in mud if the water level becomes too low. The Mississippi mud turtle, yellow mud turtle, and eastern mud turtle are among the most common types of turtles that are adopted as pets.
- Can have a lifespan of up to 50 years with proper care.
- A good option for those children with more compact tanks.
- Grows between 3 to 6 inches.
- These turtles often dislike being handled and might try to bite.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Turtle
The Razor-Backed Musk Turtle is often found on the shallow edges of rivers and fishing docks. As its name implies, the turtle is known for having a shell with tips that are as sharp as a razor. With an average lifespan of 20 years, this turtle is also great for beginners.
- Very affordable.
- Grows up to 6 inches.
- Lifespan of up to 20 years.
- They can emit an unpleasant odor when stressed or provoked.
- Require 10 gallons of water for every inch of length.
False Map Turtles
These turtles are characterized by their peculiar pointed shells and intricate yellow patterns and can reach a length of up to 10 inches. They enjoy a diet of turtle pellets with duckweed, crickets, and other delectable delights sprinkled in.
- Very friendly and rarely ever bite.
- Lifespan of up to 50 years.
- Cool shell patterns for an artistic feel.
- They can grow to be quite large, requiring more time and money spent on supplies to care for them.
Turtles are Great… and also Live a Really Long Time
While turtles may not require as much interaction as a dog or cat, they do require a lot of care. Regular feeding and tank cleaning are a must for all species, and many types require additional things like misting.
If you’re considering a turtle as a pet for your child, keep in mind that while the turtles on this list may be pretty low maintenance, their life spans are going to outlast childhood. When you’re purchasing a pet turtle, your signing on for a 30+ year commitment. The turtles on this list are fairly easy to care for, so they are great for beginners. But, with a lifespan like that, you’ll have plenty of time to become a pro.