Cool pet turtles
There are many different species of aquatic turtles that can be kept as pets or as a hobby, and choosing the right one is an important decision. In fact, you really need to be sure that you want to have a turtle at all. Turtles can live a very long time, so the turtle you choose will likely be your for many years. You don't want to get bored with your turtle (or for your turtle to get bored with you!).
Another way to look at it is like this: Let's say you're 16 years old and you get a young turtle. If you take care of it well, then you may be married and have children of your own - or maybe even grandchildren - and still have that turtle! It's a very big responsibility and a long-term commitment, so be really sure that that's what you want before you run out and buy a turtle.
So the first decision you need to make is whether you should get a turtle in the first place. Turtles are wonderful animals who make excellent pets, but they're not for everyone. Turtles require more care than many other pets, and keeping one is a long-term commitment. So let's look at some of the reasons why maybe you shouldn't get a turtle.
Reasons Not to Get a Pet Turtle
- Turtles are unique animals that require very specialized care, feeding, and habitats. These habitats can require a lot of space as the turtle grows. Your tiny turtle will need a very big tank when it grows up.
- Turtle habitats require a lot of maintenance, some of which (like water changes, vacuuming, and changing the filter media) can be difficult, yucky, or gross.
- Most turtles don't like to be held or cuddled, they don't do tricks, and you can't take them for walks on a leash. Turtles are the kind of animals we mainly watch and take care of, not play with.
- Turtles are messy and never clean up after themselves. Their habitats will also get smelly if you get lazy about maintaining and cleaning it.
- Turtles can be expensive to keep. Tanks, lights, lamp bulbs, heaters, filters, filter media, food, and vet bills can add up to a lot of money. Their habitats also use a lot of electricity, which there keepers have to pay for because turtles have no money.
- Turtles aren't the kind of pet that you can drop off with a friend if you decide to go on vacation. They live in specialized habitats that can't easily be moved.
- Turtles can live a very long time - as long as 45 years. Keeping a turtle is a lifetime commitment. If that's scary to you, then probably you shouldn't get a turtle. (But if you think it's cool to have a pet for most of your life, then maybe you should!)
Choosing a Turtle
Well, you're still reading, so I guess the reasons listed above didn't scare you away. You must really like turtles! So let's talk about choosing the right turtle for you. Some of the most important things you have to consider when choosing a turtle are:
- What kind of temperament would you like your turtle to have? Some species are friendlier and tamer than others.
- How big a turtle can you handle? The minimum recommended tank size is 10 gallons per inch of turtle (measured by carapace length), so a turtle that grows to 12 inches will need a 120-gallon tank. How big a tank do you have space (and money) for?
- Is the turtle's appearance important to you? Turtles vary widely in their coloration and appearance, and there's nothing wrong with you preferring one species of turtle just because you think it's the prettiest. (But make sure you consider all the other factors, as well.)
- Does the turtle species (kind of turtle) have any unique care requirements that would make it difficult for you to properly care for?
- Are there any laws in the place you live against keeping certain turtle species in captivity? You need to check first. Not all turtles are legal everywhere, and for some you may need a license or permit.
Recommended Turtles for Beginners
This is a site for people who are beginners at keeping turtles, so we're going to talk about some of the "starter turtles" recommended for new keepers. These turtles are easier to keep than some of the other species, tend to be hardy (which means that they don't get sick as easily), and usually have pleasant personalities. Our short list of recommended turtles also assumes that you will be keeping the turtles inside, in a tank, not in an outdoor pond. For a more detailed discussion of other possible turtle choices, please click here.
The links in the descriptions below go to each species' page on Austin's Turtle Page. You can click those links for detailed information about each species of turtle.
Painted turtles aren't really painted. They just look kind of like they were painted. They're very colorful.
There are four species of Painted Turtles in the United States: The Eastern Painted Turtle, the Midland Painted Turtle, the Western Painted Turtle, and the Southern Painted Turtle. They're popular among turtle keepers because they're hardy, easy to care for, pretty, and usually have very pleasant, tame personalities.
The turtles on this site's video feed, and most of the ones in the pictures, are Southern Painted Turtles. I chose them for this site because I really believe that they're one of the best aquatic turtle choices for new keepers.
Southern Painted Turtles are one of the smallest of the aquatic turtles commonly kept in the United States. Males (boys) usually grow to 4 or 5 inches, and females (girls) usually grow to 6 or 7 inches. That alone makes them a good choice for people who have limited space, because larger turtles need more space than smaller ones do.
Southern Painted Turtles are also fun turtles. They're very lively and love to swim and move around, even when they're grown up. All turtles are lively when they're young, but Southern Painted Turtles stay lively all their lives, so they don't get boring. You might say that they're hyper, as turtles go.
I also like Southern Painted turtles because they have very friendly, almost funny personalities. They recognize their keepers and seem happy to see them when they walk in the room. They're also very attractive. I recommend them as an excellent choice for beginners or any turtle hobbyist.