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Different Types of Turtles

What should you look for in a pet turtle? Learn about the different types of turtles including box turtle, mud turtle, and slider turtle. Be able to identify a healthy pet turtle at the pet store.

Choosing a Healthy Pet Turtle

Finding a pet turtle at a pet store can be a challenge. It is important to observe the enclosures that house the turtles for signs of neglect. This includes dirty and unkempt tanks, too many turtles within a single enclosure, and poor appearance. The best way to determine if the turtle is healthy is to touch it. A healthy turtle will retract its head into the shell when you try to touch it. If the turtle doesn’t resist you, then it is probably sick. Another characteristic of an unhealthy turtle is a soft shell. It is usually caused by a disease called shell rot. Other signs of poor health include dry or cracked skin. This could be an indication of a fungal infection.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Turtle

Finding a pet turtle involves other factors such as the lifespan of the turtles and their habitat requirements. A pet turtle is a long term commitment that can last up to 40 years. Small pet turtles can reside in small terrariums, but they will outgrow their initial enclosure. A 40 gallon tank is considered adequate for most species, while others require outdoor pens. Let’s look at the common types of pet turtles.

Box Turtle

Box turtles are not the best pet turtles for beginners, since they are too large for smaller terrariums. They are more suited for outdoor enclosures that are made from untreated wood and situated in a shaded area. The box turtle typically hibernates during the winter by digging a hole in the dirt ground. If you don’t have a backyard with these features, the box turtle isn’t for you. Also, the box turtle is very territorial, so it won’t get along with other turtles.

Mud Turtle

Mud turtles are small, typically growing up to five inches. They prefer a damp, sandy, or muddy habitat. They can be housed indoors in a large tank that features a dry land area and a wading area with clear water. This type of turtle can also be housed outdoors. Any outdoor enclosure should also provide a muddy area for hibernation.

Slider Turtle

Slider turtles that are available at pet stores are generally four inches in length. Over their lifespan, the slider turtle can grow up to 11 inches. Be prepared to change enclosures as the turtle grows. Slider turtles are considered aquatic turtles and require space for swimming and resting. A basking area is also recommended. The tank should contain small pebbles to allow the turtle to dig.

Painted Turtle

Painted turtles are another type of aquatic turtle. They require a large tank with water and an area for resting. Painted turtles tend to sleep in water or on floating logs. They also bask in sunlight for long periods of time. They grow up to 10 inches in length.

More Helpful Info

Whether you have never owned a pet turtle or are looking for a new variety for your terrarium, remember to select one that is right for you. Consider the space you have in your home and in your backyard. Box turtles require a lot of space, while mud turtles can live in the same enclosure for the duration of their life. Consider the type of turtle you want. Aquatic turtles require additional housing features, such as a basking area, while terrestrial turtles do not. Most importantly, select a turtle that is healthy.


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