Today’s question: Do turtles make good pets? And are they suitable pets for kids? In short, the answer is yes, turtles can make great pets. They’re quite hardy and fun to watch. They’re certainly not noisy, and they’re particularly appropriate for families in which one or more members is allergic to pet dander!
However, pet turtles aren’t necessarily a good choice for all families. If your children expect a great deal of interaction, for example, they may lose interest when the pet turtles decide to slow down during the cold winter months. And turtles retreat quickly into their shells when they feel intimidated.
Do Turtles Make Good Pets? It Depends on What You Are Looking for in a Pet
Whether a turtle would make a good pet for you or not, largely depends on what you are looking for in a pet.
So, in order to decide whether a turtle would make a good pet for you or your family, you first need to learn what are turtles as pets like. And this article will certainly help you get an idea of what turtles are like as pets, so do read on.
Things You Should Know before Getting a Pet Turtle:
- Turtles are not companion animals like cats and dogs. In fact, pet turtles often only interact with their humans during the feeding time. If you are looking for a pet to play with and spend time together, a turtle probably isn’t not the right pet for you.
- Turtles don’t make great pets for most kids. As kids are not really able to play with pet turtles, they can quickly get bored with the animal.
- Turtles can carry Salmonella bacteria on their shells and skin. They can also infect people with this bacteria, so you probably don’t even want your kids to handle a turtle. Because of the risk of getting infected with the Salmonella bacteria, it’s always necessary to thoroughly wash your hands after handling a pet turtle.
- Turtles need quite a lot of care, equipment (especially so for aquatic turtles) and a diverse diet.
- Baby turtles need to be fed everyday, adult turtles two or three time a week. The diet depends on the type of turtle you have, but most eat fresh fruits and vegetables as well as insects and mice.
- A water tank is not the only thing you need for the turtle’s habitat, you’ll also need a UV-A and UV-B light source, a filtration system and a water pump for the tank. You might also need to buy additional equipment for the tank like a water heater, timer for the the lights and a basking rock. The equipment is likely to cost up to $500 or even more.
- Even though the water tank has a filtration system, it still needs to be cleaned quite frequently, depending on the size of the tank.
Types of Pet Turtles
If you are still interested in getting a pet turtle and you’ve convinced yourself that you can provide a decent home
environment for pet turtles, you have to decide on which of the varieties of turtle you should choose.
Although some pet stores sell tropical turtles, they require a great deal more care and attention than North American species such as box turtles and painted turtles. One other point to consider is that turtles are potentially long lived creatures; they can survive for 25 years or more, so taking on pet turtles should definitely be regarded as a long term project.
Box turtles are omnivores that live on land, with a preference for moist conditions. They can be kept outdoors in a suitable enclosure, as long as they have a hutch or some other kind of shelter to house their bedding and to provide them with somewhere to avoid the hot sun.
In winter, box turtles like to hibernate; a container filled with dry rotting leaves and slightly moist, cool earth is ideal for this purpose.
Box turtles get their name from the ‘boxy’ profile of their chunky carapaces. They have dark brown shells, sometimes with yellow markings, and their eyes are red. Box turtles grow to about six inches (15 cm) in length.
Painted turtles live mostly in water, but do require some dry land where they like to bask between sessions in the pool. A large tank or pool of clean water containing a few large rocks that extend above the surface is the ideal habitat for painted turtles. Like box turtles, they, too, are omnivores.
Painted turtles have long, smooth, narrow shells up to ten inches (25 cm) in length. They’re dark olive green or black in color with red and yellow stripes on the legs and neck.
Choosing Healthy Pet Turtles
Once you’ve decided on which type of pet turtle you want, your next task is to find a specimen in good condition. Here are a few pointers:
- If possible, select a turtle bred in captivity; specimens born in the wild are often stressed and in poor condition.
- Check that the turtle looks healthy, with clear eyes and no signs of disease.
- Pick up the creature; a healthy turtle should pull its legs away and attempt to escape from you.
- Carapaces should feel solid and be free from imperfections.
When they’re given good care, pet turtles can make a marvelous long term impact on your home and family and give many years of pleasure.
Conclusion on Turtles as Pets
Turtles can make great pets for the right people, but they are definitely not for everyone. Before getting a pet turtle, make sure that a turtle is the right pet for you and that you’ll be able to properly care for it for years to come.
Already have a pet turtle? What do you like about your turtle? Is there something you’d like to tell to other prospective turtle owners? You can join the discussion in the comments below!