Pets & Animal Reptiles

Types of Turtles As Pets

    Types of Aquatic Turtles

    • The most common aquatic turtles found in pet stores are sliders and painted turtles. Red-eared sliders are the most common of the slider turtles. Aquatic turtles have webbed feet for swimming and spend a lot of time in the water, swimming and digging. Painted turtles also prefer the water and will sleep in the water or half submerged, hanging off of a log or rock. Both species of aquatic turtle are omnivorous and need to have access to land to warm up in the sun. Some less common, more carnivorous and sometimes dangerous types of aquatic pet turtles are map turtles, snapping turtles, soft shell turtles, mud turtles and musk turtles.

    Types of Terrestrial Turtles

    • Box turtles are the most common pet terrestrial turtle. Box turtles are omnivorous and need access to water for drinking and bathing, but spend the majority of time on land. There are four types of box turtles available as pets in the United States according to the eastern box turtle, three-toed box turtle, Gulf Coast box turtle and ornate box turtle. The red-foot tortoise and yellow-foot tortoise are also types of pet terrestrial turtles.

    Exotic Turtles

    • If you are an experienced turtle owner and are looking for a more exotic pet, Reeve's turtles, Asian yellow pond turtles, Asian leaf turtles, African mud turtles, snake-neck turtles and big-head turtles are exotic turtles you may be able to find in a pet store or may need to contact a reptile dealer to purchase.


    • If you find a turtle in the wild or are buying one from a questionable source, check first with your state laws and the protected species in your area before adopting the turtle as your pet. In general it is better to buy a turtle who has been bred in captivity rather than buying a wild-caught turtle. Wild-caught turtles have more difficulty adjusting to life in captivity and may develop many problems accordingly. Similarly, do not release a turtle you have bought into the wild. It may have difficulty adjusting or not be a species native to your area and climate.


    • There is a law in the United States prohibiting the sale of turtle hatchlings under four-inches long regardless of what type of turtle it is. This law was enacted to keep small children from handling turtles and putting them in their mouths, a common cause of Salmonella infection.

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