Turtles make great pets. They’re typically docile and tend to live long lives. They are cute and gentle creatures that you can have fun taking care of and simply observe. Before buying your very own pet turtle, you need to determine what type of turtle you would like to keep. For beginners there are two types of turtles that you can get:

  • Terrestrial Turtles (land based) and
  • Aquatic Turtles (water based)

Turtles as pets may have varying needs and each breed may need different items for you to be able to take good care of it.

For Terrestrial Turtles, here are two types that pet owners can consider:

Box Turtles (Genus Terrapene ornata)

  • These are land based turtles with high, domed shells that look like “boxes.”
  • Their usually dark colored with yellow markings. The males have longer tails, bright red eyes, and indented plastrons (the turtle’s “belly”).
  • They can be found anywhere in the world and live in damp habitats such as the mossy areas of the forest. They are very territorial creatures.
  • Box turtles are omnivorous, meaning they can eat plants and insects.
  • Box turtles make great pets if you live in the countryside because you can keep them outside. If you have a small space then it isn’t advisable since they cannot be kept in a small terrarium. Rather, they’ll need a large pen made out of untreated wood with a shade outdoors.
  • Normally, box turtles hibernate during the winter, so they would become lazier during the colder season. Make a small enclosure with a dirt floor so that your box turtle can dig a hole in the dirt to hibernate in. Don’t put your pet in a crate because they need moisture which they can get from dirt and rotting dry leaves. On the other hand, you shouldn’t wet your turtle as well since it will seep into the shell, turn to ice, and kill your pet.

Mud Turtles (Genus Kinosternon and Sternotherus)

  • Mud turtles are semi-terrestrial since they need water. They’re great as turtles as pets. They’re also omnivorous. Their food preferences are fish and insects although special turtle food will do since you will be getting one that has been bred in captivity.
  • Mud turtles, as their name implies, require damp places with mud or sand to live in. You can keep them indoors since they rarely grow to more than 5 inches.
  • Male mud turtles are usually bigger than females, and they have bigger heads and thicker tails.
  • March and May are the usual breeding months for the mud turtles.
  • The life span of a mud turtle is typically 50 years, as long as they have a healthy diet and are safe from predators and diseases.
  • You will need a large tank for this turtle, with ample dry land space where he can rest in and fresh clean water to enjoy swimming in.
  • Mud turtles also hibernate, so if you plan on keeping it outdoors then follow the same thing as with the Box Turtle.

For Aquatic Turtles as pets, here are two types that you might want to consider:

Slider Turtles (Genus Trachemys)

  • The most common species of slider turtles that are kept as pets are the Red Eared Slider Turtles.
  • Slider turtles grow up to about 11 inches, so most likely the tank that you got for it when it was small isn’t going to be permanent.
  • You would know that your slider turtle is healthy because its colors are sharp and its eyes are alert.
  • Slider turtles are omnivorous so you can feed them special turtle food, vegetables, and dried tubifex worm cubes.
  • The right tank for a slider turtle should have clean water for swimming and then a place for them to rest. It is advisable to place small rocks at the bottom of the tank because they enjoy digging.

Painted Turtles (Genus Chrysemys)

  • Painted turtles are called so because of their colorful markings. They typically have deep olive green to black skin and with yellow and stripes across their neck and legs. They have yellow plastrons and long and smooth carapaces.
  • Painted turtles can grow to about 10 inches in length, and the females are usually larger. The males have longer claws on their front legs and thicker tails.
  • The painted turtle spends most of its time in the water but you would still need to put a dry area for it to rest on. They need a pool or at least a big tank and you must frequently change the water to keep it clean.
  • Painted turtles are omnivorous and can eat vegetables, chicken meet, and feeder fish.
  • Painted turtles have particular sun bathing habits but they sleep in the water.