ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Pets and Animals»
  • Reptiles & Amphibians

Turtles-What You Need To Know Before You Buy

Updated on October 15, 2009

What To Know Before You Buy a Turtle

Turtles-What You Need To Know Before You Buy

Getting a pet turtle is always a very important decision and one that should be made only when you are aware of when having this type pet will entail. What type of turtle you want, sources of turtle information, and estimates of the time and money it will take to properly care for the turtle are all important considerations. Turtles require special care, not to mention you really can not interact with them. They are not human friendly, and many carry diseases that you may not be aware of. But before you go out and buy a turtle you need to ask yourself some very important questions.

Turtles and tortoises are very complex organisms and they have a very specialized set of needs. If a turtle owner does not provide these specialized needs, then these animals will lead a very poor quality of life and die a premature death. While there are many turtle owners out there that provide an excellent environment for their captive turtles, there are many that do not. One of the first questions that you have to ask yourself is why do you want a turtle or tortoise? While there are many reasons why we take animals as pets, some of them are not very good ones, and completely fail to take the welfare of the animal into account. Obtaining a turtle or tortoise is a very important decision, and much thought and planning should go into the decision. Turtle care is on a day to day basis, if you go on vacation, who will care for your turtle the way you do?

Some things to consider before you obtain a tortoise are:

  • The initial expense of purchasing a turtle or tortoise is by far the cheapest part of owning a turtle. To properly care for a turtle, you will need to provide appropriate housing, food, vitamins, bedding, temperature, humidity, and veterinary care, which can total hundreds of dollars a year. Are you willing to invest that kind of money?
  • Turtles can live for a very long time, often 25 years or longer. Are you prepared to care for this animal for its entire life? Some live even longer, who will care for your turtle when you are gone?
  • Turtles require clean, fresh water and bedding daily. Are you prepared to spend the time each and every day cleaning and caring for your turtle? You should expect to spend at least half an hour each day caring for the turtle.
  • When you travel, your turtle will still require daily care, and cannot be left to fend for itself. Will you be able to arrange for its care in such situations?
  • Most turtles and tortoises hibernate from 10 to 20 weeks. Are you prepared to provide the correct hibernating environment and care for your turtle?
  • To properly care for a turtle or tortoise, you need to provide fresh fruits and vegetables or insects or mice. Are you ready to deal with the extra work this entails? Special shopping, and preparing of food.

What can I expect from a turtle?

  • Turtles do not interact with or particularly like humans. Are you prepared to have a pet that does not interact with you other than at feeding time?
  • Turtles and tortoises are an interesting novelty to children, but soon lose their charm. Turtles are not recommended as suitable pets for most children because of the risk of certain diseases, including Salmonella. Turtles bite, and they bite very hard. Often times you will find them not letting go right away. Are you willing to take the proper precautions to protect yourself and your family?

What kind of turtle should I get?

If you are prepared to provide excellent nutrition, ample and adequate housing, and a lifetime of caring and husbandry to your turtle, then the next step is to research the different species available. There are major differences between turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. Choose a species that fits your lifestyle and your environment. For example, does it really make sense to have a tropical species from the jungle of South America living in the Northwood’s of Wisconsin? Pick a species that needs an environment similar to the one where you live, and then you can provide the best outdoor housing and nutrition as well as indoor housing and nutrition.

Where should I get a turtle?

If you are confident that you understand all the above requirements for ownership, then you should consider one more important factor before you choose a turtle or tortoise as a pet, and that is, where did it come from? This question does not pertain to whether it was from a pet store or private sale, but rather did it come from the wild (wild-caught), or was it hatched from a captive-raised and bred turtle. If it was hatched and reared in captivity that is great; if it was captured from the wild, then you might want to rethink your decision. A wild-caught turtle can harbor many diseases that may be very harmful to you or your child.

Most people who get a turtle or tortoise as a pet have no idea where it came from. Do your research on where it may have come from, or where you would like to purchase one from. You would be shocked to know that many of them are taken out of the wild. Before you purchase a turtle or tortoise, insist that there is proof that it has been captive-bred and captive raised. If the seller cannot provide this proof, then assume the turtle was wild-caught and look elsewhere. Breeders that provide good housing, nutrition, and controlled breeding programs are much more likely to provide healthy species and good husbandry information. Do yourself and turtles a huge favor and never purchase a wild-caught turtle.

After many hours of research, and if you are well-informed, choose the right type of turtle for you, obtain it from a reputable source, and make sure you are willing to commit the time and money to care for it, you and your new turtle can live a long and happy life together. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I will be happy to assist you in your turtle adventures.

This article is solely intended for informational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition with your pet. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      abby 5 years ago

      how expensive are turtles at petco ???

    • profile image

      Dadofone 5 years ago

      great help, i also have a 4 year old son who loves turtles. After reading i wlil also be looking for an alternative pet.

    • profile image

      momofturtlelover 7 years ago

      This was an excellent help to me. My 4 year old loves turtles and i was going to get him one for his birthday but reading this changed my mind. Im glad i read this before purchasing the habitat and turtle.