There are hundreds of turtle species but our interest here is to learn more about the most popular types of pet turtles. For many they are ideal pets since they have a hard protective shell that will prevent them from getting injured, they don’t make a lot of noise, are low maintenance and are really cute.
The first difference that needs to be made is between turtles and tortoises as these two types of reptiles are quite different. The toes can tell you if you are dealing with one or the other as tortoises live on land more so their feet will look a bit like an elephant’s. Turtles love water and so they will have flippers that help them swim.
They have a lot of things in common but when it comes to their diet it is really important to tell the difference. Their habits also differ but all of them get stressed if they are handled too much so it’s not recommended to have them around small children.
To have your turtle thrive you should put them in an aquarium that has at least thirty gallons and a screened top. Water should predominate but put a piece of land there too. For their diet they eat a combination of vegetables and insects, depending on the species.
Most Popular Turtle Pet Types
African Aquatic Sideneck
These freshwater turtles are active and have a unique “folding” neck. They are easy to get and are active during daytime so they are great pets. They grow to around eight inches or more and are omnivore in their diet and usually live for up to 25 years.
Central American Wood
These are predominant in Mexico and Costa Rica and you have a choice between four subspecies. The ornate wood turtle is the most common one with the red stripes and their diet is mostly herbivore. They live in a mixed habitat of land and shallow water and as adults reach the average size of nine inches.
They are active during the day and will hibernate in winter and in the wild they can live for more than 55 years while in captivity they usually reach 25 years. They have colorful green, yellow and red patterns and they need an environment with a temperature between 60 and 90 degrees F. They require around ten to 12 hours of basking time in full-spectrum lighting and they eat small feeder goldfish and diced up chicken or commercial turtle food along with leafy greens.
Their tan or olive patterns with yellow or cream touches on the arms and shell are characteristic for these turtles and they are curious and sociable. They live for over 40 years, have a size between 7 to 10 inches and are semi-aquatic, preferring to spend most of their time in water. Their diet should be greens, insects, fish, worms or pelleted commercial food and they are low maintenance in general.
Around 8 to 10 inches in size, they are found through the US and they are easily adaptable to ponds, swamps or slow-moving rivers so you should get a large aquarium for them (60 gallons) with some places to climb. The lighting has to be full-spectrum and the water around 75 degrees Fahrenheit which should be changed regularly. They are omnivores and mostly eat aquatic plants, turtle pellets and animal matter. The young ones are more carnivorous and the adults more interested in plants.
The tortoises need a terrarium that is at least forty gallons in size and since they don’t swim land should predominate for them. They don’t swim too often but might want to bathe from time to time and need a place from which they can drink water. A warmer environment is more to their liking and the precise heat and humidity levels vary according to the species. For diet, tortoises are herbivores so they will eat vegetables and fruit mostly.
Most Popular Tortoise Pet Types
Cherry Head Red Footed
They are among the most beautiful and sought after species and they are quite small. They are intelligent and quick learners with a strong sense of smell but they are very sensitive to touches. Their environments should be warm and with shallow fresh water and if the temperature is pleasant enough you should keep them outdoors. Indoors the temperature should be between 70 and 80 degrees F and the basking area should be at around 90 degrees and if you keep them inside ensure UV light for around 12 hours a day.
Red Footed Tortoise
Easy to get and not very demanding as pets, they are popular since they adapt to various climates and habitats. Their size is somewhere between 11 and 14 inches and they can live for over 50 years in conditions that mimic their natural habitat. They are low maintenance and will eat fruits, vegetables, flowers and leaves.
They are around five to eight inches as adults and they can live over 100 years in the wild but many fall prey to predators in the wild. They love to graze and are quite friendly although you shouldn’t hold them too often. An outdoor naturalistic pen is the best housing choice with a lot of edible vegetation. Indoors a table made of ply wood should be enough and as for food weeds like dandelion, clover or dried organic herbs will do the trick.
They have around 10 inches and can live over 100 years! They don’t require a lot of care but you should get a very large aquarium (75 gallons or more). Indoors you can keep them in a rubber container but they will do much better outdoors with a heater in case the weather is too cold. The heat they need is around 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and they can tolerate 60 degrees at night. They don’t need a lot of humidity and as food they like leaf greens, especially dandelions. Ensure that they have fresh water and they should be happy then. Keep in mind that they are quite active for tortoises and area eager to eat often.