close up photo of sea turtle
Photo by Maria Isabella Bernotti on

Turtles make unique pets. Although they are not as social or active as cats and dogs, their quiet nature appeals to some pet keepers. Other owners feel calm and relaxed from watching a turtle swim around the tank. 

If you are considering getting a turtle for a pet, this guide offers everything you need to know about turtles and whether getting one is right for you. 

Where to Buy Turtles

With so many retailers advertising pet turtles for sale, you may have difficulty finding the best turtle store. But here are a few pointers when looking for live turtles for sale. 

  • They offer a large selection of turtle species
  • The vendor is verified and keeps healthy turtles
  • The staff is knowledgeable about turtle keeping
  • The retailer is readily available by phone or email in case of a turtle emergency
  • Other customers recommend the turtle store

After considering the above, it is time to find where to buy a turtle. The following are among the best stores to buy turtles online.

1.   The Turtle Source

The Turtle Source is among the best online stores to find aquatic turtles for sale. This vendor is passionate about reptiles and has earned a “Breeder of the Year Award.” The store sells healthy turtles for sale, including rare species. 

2.   My Turtle Store

For over 40 years, My Turtle Store has been breeding and raising turtles. This vendor has cared for 100+ turtle species to become one of the leading online stores.

3.   Backwater Reptiles

This online store delivers imported live turtles for sale and captive-bred baby turtles. Anytime you buy a pet turtle from Backwater Reptiles, they offer 100% live arrival plus a health guarantee. 

4.   Turtle Store

Turtle Store is an excellent place to buy baby turtles for sale. Here, only healthy and vibrant turtles are listed for sale. The store guarantees 100% live arrival and a 7-day health guarantee. In addition, their customer service is always ready to offer advice and assistance. 

Apart from online stores, you can look up live turtles for sale near me on your browser to find physical turtle stores in your area.

How to Care for a Pet Turtle

selective focus photography green and black turtle
Photo by Vlad Chețan on

The following are three main ways to take care of your pet turtle.

Tank Requirements

As previously stated, turtles need a right-sized tank with enough room to move around. If you house a large-sized turtle in a small tank, it will have stunted growth and a shorter lifespan. 

An indoor tank should feature a basking light and a basking spot. Turtles need to bask to promote metabolism, breeding, and mood regulation. Turtles are cold-blooded and cannot regulate their body temperature. Basking warms up their bodies.

Basking also helps turtles produce vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 helps the absorption of calcium to prevent metabolic bone disease and improper growth. In addition, basking helps the turtle get rid of algae and ectoparasites. You should invest in a basking light with UVA and UVB lights to maintain your pet’s health.

You also need to research the ideal air and water temperature for your preferred turtle species. Maintaining these temperatures can prevent the likelihood of your pet turtle developing respiratory infections or going into hibernation. 

Turtles need a clean tank too. To prevent a smelly tank and turtle, you must perform 25% water changes weekly. You also need to install an advanced filtration system with a filter capacity of three times your tank size.  It should also offer mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. 

Feeding Requirements

Next, identify the kind of food your pet turtle eats. Turtles are omnivores. They thrive on meat and plant diets. This means you should include fruits, vegetables, and animal-sourced products. Examples include leafy greens, chives, apples, berries, worms, crickets, and shrimp. 

How often should you feed a turtle? You should feed hatchlings and juveniles daily. Turtles under seven years are considered juveniles and should consume one meal daily. However, if you adopt an adult turtle, you can feed it thrice a week. 

Handling Requirements

Some turtle species are tame, while others are shy. However, they all dislike being handled and prefer being left alone. Therefore, make peace with this fact and only observe the turtle from a distance.

If you have to touch the pet or surfaces within its environment, thoroughly wash your hands. Doing so reduces the likelihood of contracting salmonella. 

Related Questions

What Is the Best Turtle for a Pet?

blue turtles on brown sand
Photo by Jolo Diaz on

With over 350 turtle species, narrowing down just one best turtle can be challenging since each species has unique characteristics. Nevertheless, the painted turtle is a perfect pick, even for beginners. 

Painted turtles are beautiful to look at. In addition to its colorful looks, the species has a tame personality and can get attached to its owner. Some painted turtles become more playful in the presence of their owners.

Speaking of play, these turtles remain active and energetic through the years. Unlike some turtle species that are only super active as babies, painted turtles enjoy swimming, climbing rocks, and moving around when grown. 

Also, painted turtles are hardy and can tolerate beginner mistakes like missing water change for a day. They also do not need extra-large tanks because they do not get larger than eight inches. 

Is It Safe to Buy Turtles Online?

It is safe to buy turtles online from reputable stores or breeders like those mentioned above. Some retailers give a 100% live arrival guarantee, while others offer a 7-day health guarantee. Additionally, they have proper certification and documentation, and their turtles are healthy.

Are Turtles Low-Maintenance?

Turtles may seem like low-maintenance pets, but in all honesty, they aren’t. These quiet pets require specific housing and tank requirements to live a healthy life. 

For starters, turtles require a right-sized tank. The rule of thumb when housing one is to provide 10 gallons for every inch of the turtle. Baby turtles are often 4 inches, meaning they need a 40-gallon tank. These babies then grow to measure 8 to 11 inches. At this length, these turtles need a large-sized tank which is expensive to buy.

In addition, these pets are extremely messy yet need a clean tank to stay healthy. Turtles make a mess during feeds; these leftover foods, combined with waste and dirt, can quickly stress the animal.

A turtle tank needs frequent cleaning and a high-quality filtration system. Pet owners also need to perform regular water changes and de-clog the filter. 

Plus, turtles need specific water temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees. A drop in temperature can make the turtle sick or cause it to hibernate. Turtles also require UVA and UVB lights to live healthily. 

Is It Okay to Keep Wild Baby Turtles?

No. Wild baby turtles are wild animals. They are used to freedom and fending for themselves. Most baby turtles die in captivity because they are unaccustomed to living in tanks, receiving a pellet diet, and being handled by humans. 

Moreover, wild baby turtles may expose you to salmonella bacteria. These animals are notorious for carrying this bacterium, and a simple touch after touching them can get you sick. Children, in particular, are more susceptible to salmonella.

It is also not okay to keep wild baby turtles in some states. Some states have illegalized turtle keeping, whether captive-bred or wild. If you live in such a state, consider having another animal as a pet. 

Do Turtles Like to Be Held?

person holding a turtle
Photo by International Fund for Animal Welfare on

No, turtles hate handling. Humans are affectionate beings and love petting or holding their pets. Sadly, turtles do not enjoy this kind of affection and would rather you leave them alone. 

Whenever you hold a small turtle in your palm, it has nowhere to run and hide. Your gesture of love will only make the animal restless and stressed. 

Do Pet Turtles Smell?

Some pet turtles stink; others don’t. It turns out that the tank’s condition affects a turtle’s smell. The turtle will stink if you don’t regularly clean the tank. Remember, most turtles excrete their waste in the tank. This waste becomes stinky in a short period causing a bad smell.

Additionally, turtles are messy eaters who always have leftover food particles floating around. If you do not clean the food frequently, it will start to harbor bacteria creating a bad smell. 

Old substrates, rapidly-growing algae, and rotting plants can also create an unpleasant odor. Fortunately, maintaining proper hygiene prevents the unpleasant smell. 

Are Turtles Hard to Care of? 

All a turtle needs from its owner is a well-maintained tank and food. Turtle owners should provide adequate heating, UV light, and a quality filtration system to maintain healthy water parameters. They should also perform 30-50% water changes once every two weeks. 

Regarding food, adults need feeding three times a week, while hatchlings and juveniles need daily feeding. Once these requirements are met, turtles do not demand anything else, making them easy to care for. 

Is a Pet Turtle Right for You? 

A turtle is not a perfect pet for everyone. If you feel inclined to get one, here are a few questions you should consider before the purchase?

  • Are you looking for a lifelong pet?
  • Are you ready to incur expenses caring for an animal for 30+ years?
  • Will you keep up with the regular maintenance of the turtle tank?
  • Do you feel content living with an animal that dislikes cuddling?
  • Are you comfortable raising a large adult turtle?

If you answered yes to the above answers, it is time you learned how to care for a turtle.

Final Thoughts

black and yellow turtle on brown sand

Turtles indeed make great pets, but they are not fit for everyone. Prepare in advance and thoroughly research the pet turtle of your dreams before bringing it home. Be certain that you and your family are ready to undertake the responsibility of caring for a pet for several decades.