Eastern Box Turtle

10 Types of Turtles That Make Perfect Pets


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Adding a turtle to your home can be a great way to gain a new pet that will be with you for years. Turtles are relaxed, low-maintenance pets that might even outlive you, depending on which breed you choose. Fortunately, not all turtles require such a huge commitment. There are hundreds of types of turtles, ranging from leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) to snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina). Choosing a pet turtle can be overwhelming, with so many options available. Some types of turtles make great pets, but there also a few you should avoid.

Each different type of turtle species has its own unique requirements for survival. You'll need to research everything about how to care for turtles, and that goes far beyond what turtles eat. Be sure to read up on the water sources, heat, and humidity levels they require, too. With these amphibians hailing from locations such as New Guinea, the Caribbean, South America, Australia, and even the Galapagos Islands, you'll need to consider whether you can provide the turtle with the best habitat possible. Some may not be a good fit for living with humans, while there are plenty of turtles who will happily share a home with you.

Types of Turtles That Make Great Pets????

1. African Sideneck Turtle

types of turtles

These freshwater turtles were originally discovered in eastern and southern Africa. They make great pets because they are most active during the daytime and are easily acquired since they are not on the endangered species list.

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These aquatic turtles have a lifespan up to 25 years, can grow anywhere from eight to eighteen inches long, and have webbed feet.

2. Central American Wood Turtle

Central American Wood Turtle climbing on log

Wood turtles are found throughout most of western Mexico all the way to Costa Rica. There are four subspecies of the wood turtle, but the ornate wood turtle is most commonly seen in captivity.

Of all the subspecies, the ornate wood turtle lives in the most tropical environments and is known for its brilliant red striping. These turtles make intelligent and personable pets.

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3. Painted Turtle

Painted Turtle

The painted turtle is the most widespread turtle in North America. They can be found from southern Canada to northern Mexico and from the East Coast to the West. Like many turtles, they are active during the day and hibernate during the winter. They are olive-colored with bands on their scutes.

Adult females range in size from four to 10 inches in length. Males are generally smaller. In the wild, they can live for more than 55 years.

4. Caspian Pond Turtle

Caspian pond turtle

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Hailing from the Middle East, the Caspian pond turtle is distinguished by its tan or olive with yellow or cream patterning on its shell (also known as its carapace), arms, and head.

Though quick to return to the water if startled, these water turtles are very personable turtles and quickly learn to recognize their keepers.

5. Red Ear Slider Turtle

red ear slider turtle

The red-eared slider derives its name from the distinctive patch of red behind each eye. It is most often found from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico and from the East Coast to western Texas. It is a strong swimmer and prefers to be around marshes, ponds, and other slow-moving shallow water.

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As pets, red-eared sliders can be slow to trust but become personable with time. They can live anywhere from 50-70 years.

6. Reeve's Turtle

Type of turtle, reeve's turtle

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The range of the Reeve's turtle extends across central and eastern China, North and South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.

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These turtles inhabit ponds, lakes, and small streams, preferring slow-moving or still water with a soft bottom and lots of vegetation. They make excellent pets because they breed well in captivity and mature at a manageable size of about nine inches.

In captivity, they can be expected to live for 10-15 years.

7. Eastern Box Turtle

eastern box turtle, types of turtles

As their name implies, the Eastern box turtle (a subspecies of the Terrapene Carolina) is found in the eastern United States. However, they are very prevalent in North Carolina, where they are the state reptile.

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They are slow crawlers, slow to mature, and can live up to 100 years in the wild, though they have much shorter lives in captivity. They can be challenging to keep as pets, as they require high humidity, warmth, a suitable substrate for burrowing, and access to ultraviolet light, yet they remain a popular choice.

8. Mississippi Map Turtle

Mississippi map turtle

The Mississippi map turtle is named for its map-like markings and can be found in the Mississippi Valley down into the Gulf states in most rivers, lakes, and streams. They tend to stay in moving water rather than farm ponds and creeks.

They prefer large, flowing bodies of water like rivers and are avid baskers. As pets, they are easy keepers but need excellent water quality.

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The Mississippi map turtle is a popular pet in the United States.

9. Russian Tortoise

Russian tortoise, types of turtles

The range of the Russian tortoise includes southeastern Russia, eastern Iran, northwest Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Maturing at 8-10 inches, these tortoises are aggressive, eager to eat, and relatively active for a tortoise. A female Russian tortoise can start to lay eggs when she's just 4.5 inches long.

They are also burrowers and have a high tolerance for temperature extremes, making them easy to care for and fun as pets. These particular types of turtles can live for more than 40 years.

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10. Greek Tortoise

Greek tortoise

The Greek tortoise (also called the spur-thighed tortoise) hails from North Africa, southern Europe, and southwest Asia. They mature between five and eight inches and can be one of the longest living tortoises; some have been reported living well into their 100s. However, in the wild, they rarely live past 20 due to predators.

The Greek tortoise spends much of its time grazing. While they do not like to be held, they do tend to become very responsive to their keepers and are known for being easy-going, friendly, and interactive.

Choosing the Right Turtle for Your Home

types of turtles

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If you're considering bringing a turtle into your home, do your research. There is much more to learn about all of these types of land turtles, and because turtles can live for years, you'll want to make sure that you choose the right species for your home. In addition to these turtles, other types of turtles that are suitable for pets include the spiny softshell, mud turtle, green turtle, diamondback terrapin( Malaclemys terrapin), bog turtle,  and common musk turtle, also known as the stinkpot turtle.

A few other turtles that can be great small pets are Eastern painted turtle, spotted turtle, Northern Map turtle, Eastern musk turtle, yellow-bellied slider, Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta), softshell turtles, and the River Cooter (Pseudemys).

The snapping turtle is a recognizable favorite breed, and some people do choose to keep the common snapping turtle as a pet. However, this breed requires some extra care and can be a challenge to care for. Some endangered turtles include the alligator snapping turtle and the Blanding's turtle.

While sea turtles like the flatback turtle, loggerhead, leatherback sea turtle, hawksbill, and green sea turtle may be appealing and unique, many of these species are critically endangered, proving that not all turtles are meant to be pets. It's best to leave the care and conservation of these sea turtles up to the professionals.

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This article was originally published on August 23, 2019.

READ MORE: Alligators as Pets: Cool Idea or Asking For Trouble?

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