When your kid wants a turtle

Kids want pets. That’s a given. Every time they see a stray dog or cat or they get to play with a squirrel in the park, they turn to you with puppy eyes, asking if they can take it home and adopt it. While most children fall in love with dogs and cats, you may be surprised to find out that your kid wants a turtle. Now, turtles are not what you would call extremely popular among pets, but still, many families are drawn to their charm when visiting a pet shop and end up owning one. Not all species can be house broken, so if your child wishes for one, make sure you find out about which are the pet turtle types and what are your options. Below, you can read about the most popular turtle pets.

First of all, you should know that there are two main categories of turtles that you can adopt as pets, terrestrial turtles and aquatic turtles. From the first category, the easiest choice is the mud turtle, especially if you’ve never had pets before, as they are small and easy to look after. Mud turtles eat pretty much anything and, as the name suggests, they are most comfortable in muddy or damp places. The average turtle of this type doesn’t usually grow bigger than 5 inches, which makes it so easy for you to keep them indoors, but if you have the space, a garden or a back yard, then be sure to leave them outside, because they love to bathe in the sun rays.

Leaving your kid’s excitement aside, you should be aware of the fact that owning a mud turtle is a serious commitment, as they live 50 years or sometimes even longer. As mentioned before, feeding them won’t be any hassle, as they are omnivorous, but they do prefer fish, insects and tadpoles. However, you can also find special turtle food in any pet shop and this will do just fine for your pet. As far as accommodation goes, the best thing you can do is provide it with a large tank and a sizable dry area for rest. Although they prefer muddy dwellings, you should be careful to give it enough clean water for swimming. If you decide, despite their small size and facile indoors accommodation, to keep your turtle outside, you should be aware of the fact that it hibernates during the winter, so your mud turtle will need a muddy and sheltered area to hide during those months.


Another one of the terrestrial pet turtle types is the box turtle. They are bigger than the mud turtles, so they aren’t a perfect choice for beginner pet owners who may think they can keep them in small terrariums. The perfect accommodation for box turtles is a large outdoors enclosure, preferably made out of untreated wood, placed in a shaded space, because box turtles sometimes like to hide from the sunlight. Their shells are arched and high, which is why they are called box turtles. Just like the mud turtles, they are omnivorous, so you can feed them anything from small insects to berries, as well as the special food found in pet shops. Most of them are dark colored with only few yellow imprints and you can distinguish the males from the females through their longer tails and bright red eyes.

Also similar to their terrestrial sisters and brothers, box turtles are used to hibernating during the winter months and, as soon as the cold sets in, you will easily notice how they get more and more sluggish. They need a lot of moisture, in order to be able to dig a comfortable hole for them to sleep in, but too much water can freeze and kill the box turtles, so you should be extra careful when setting up its pen.


There are two aquatic pet turtle types as well that you can get for your kid, the slider turtle and the painted turtle. Slider turtles have various species, but the red eared ones are the most common pets. It’s easy to recognize them in pet shops, as they usually sit in piles in small tanks. They are very, very small, which at first sight makes them excellent pets, but the truth is they require the same level of care and attention as any other type. Furthermore, some of them can grow in length later on and you may be surprised to find one day that your 4 inch turtle baby became an 11 inches pet. To that extent, you should invest in a larger tank from the very beginning, just to make sure. The water needs particular attention, because slider turtles need clean water and they tend to contaminate it quite quickly. As was the case with the terrestrial turtles, slider turtles also need space for swimming and space for resting and you should also consider filling the bottom of their tank with numerous rocks, small ones, so that your pet can dig through them.



Painted turtles are also among the small pet turtle types and they are quite pretty to look at due to their colorful marks, which is why they are named “painted” in the first place. Their skin goes from dark olive to black and they usually present yellow and red stripes along their necks and legs. Their shells are smooth and prolonged and they can reach 10 inches in length. Curiously enough, the female is bigger than the male. Although it is an aquatic turtle, if you decide to buy a painted turtle as a pet, you need to also provide it with a dry land area for resting. Painted turtles require larger tanks and very clean water. Don’t worry about feeding them, as they are also omnivorous and you can even give them lettuce and chicken meat, alongside the special food sticks and fish. However, if you know your kid not to be a fan of responsibility and longevity, then go for other pet turtle types, because painted turtles are slightly more difficult and have very specific habits.

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