12 Reasons Not to Buy a Pet Turtle or Tortoise

Updated on August 11, 2015

Don't Buy a Pet Turtle or Tortoise If You're Not Ready

It's a little embarrassing to write this article, not only because everyone who knows me knows I am a turtle and tortoise nerd, but also because I have literally loved turtles and tortoises to death.

You see, even though I'd read several books on these extraordinary reptiles, I still couldn't care for them like they needed. Because of this, several have died under my (lack of) care.

Before you read the reasons you shouldn't get a tortoise or a turtle, I want to emphasize that I speak as someone who was convinced he had the means and environment to keep such a wonderful pet.

Some people I've met can keep these pets alive, but few can keep a turtle or tortoise and have them thrive. If you're thinking about getting one, for the sake of these beautiful creatures, please read this list first and sleep on your decision. If you truly think you have the requirements to purchase a pet turtle or tortoise then by all means move forward, but only then!

A Pop Quiz!

How Long Do You Think Turtles and Tortoises Can Live?

See results

Four Things You Didn't Know About Turtles and Tortoises

Many people purchase baby turtles or tortoises because of how cute they are, not knowing that these animals have more to them that meets the eye. Here are four things most people don't know about turtles and tortoises:

  1. They can carry salmonella. In fact, selling small turtles (shells less than four inches long) was banned in 1975 to prevent the spread of Salmonella. According to the CDC, this ban "likely remains the most effective public health action to prevent turtle-associated salmonellosis."
  2. They live for a long time. If maintained properly, some turtles can live for decades (even longer than humans) and grow to be a foot long. Some box turtles in the wild are over 200 years old. (How'd you do on the pop quiz!?)
  3. If released into the wild, pet turtles can be a danger to local populations of turtles and tortoises. Because of the pet-trade, red-eared-sliders are now considered one of the world's 100 most invasive species.
  4. They need room. Turtles and tortoises need about 10 gallons of tank space for every inch of shell. Red-eared sliders are the most common and least expensive pet turtle, and they grow to 7 - 9 inches long, meaning you'll need 70 - 90 gallons of tank space.

Nine Things You Need to Know Before You Buy a Pet Turtle

Like any pet, you need to do your research before getting a turtle or tortoise. Here are nine things you need to think about before purchasing one.

  1. The start-up cost of buying a turtle and its habitat (which can be $600 - $1,200), is actually the cheapest part of turtle ownership. Your turtle will require hundreds of dollars in upkeep each year.
  2. Turtles can live for a very long time, often over 25 years. Be prepared to care for a turtle for its entire lifetime.
  3. Turtles need fresh, clean water and bedding. You should expect to spend about half an hour each day caring for your turtle. You'll need to find someone to help care for your turtle while you're gone.
  4. Most turtles and tortoises hibernate for 10-20 weeks. You'll need to make sure it has an appropriate hibernating environment.
  5. Your turtle or tortoise will need fresh fruit, vegetables, mice, and insects to eat.
  6. Turtles do not really interact with or particularly like humans. Keep in mind that your pet will mostly interact with you only at feeding time.
  7. Though cute, turtles and tortoises do not make good pets for children, especially because they can transmit salmonella.
  8. If you do choose to purchase a turtle or tortoise, choose the species carefully. For example, it probably doesn't make sense to have a turtle from a tropical climate if you live somewhere that gets very cold.
  9. Never purchase a turtle that was wild-caught. Before getting one, ask the dealer for proof that the turtle was captive-bred and raised. This will ensure safe pet-trade practices as well as help make sure you have a healthy turtle.

Necessary Equipment for Your Turtle and Its Cost

 
 
 
UV-A and UV-B Light Source
Glass normally filters out the ultraviolet rays that your turtle needs to be healthy. If you want your turtle to live indoors, you need to replace that light artificially with UV-B tube fluorescents paired with UV-A producing basking bulbs. The ‘basking bulbs’ sold at pet stores for around $10-20 don't produce UV-B.
UV-B bulbs run $20 - $70; UV-A bulbs run $10 - $20
Tank and Tank Stand
10 gallons of tank for every inch of shell
Around $200
Filtration System and Pump
For a turtle (being the messy creatures they are), you need a filter rated for twice the tank size (regardless of where the water level is). Even with a good filter, you'll need to clean its tank and change the water frequently.
$70
Turtle Food
Face it, no one likes to eat the same thing every day. Pellets should only be one part their diet, which needs to include live food like worms, crickets, and snacks.
$45 / mo
Additional Supplies
(basking rock or surface, gravel, timers for lights, water heater, surge protectors)
$100 - $200
Total Set-Up Cost
One turtle and the supplies you need to house it will cost around $500.00 (on the cheap end) to $1,200.00 (with the best equipment).
$500 - $1,200

How to Care for Pet Turtles

The 12 Reasons Not to Buy a Pet Tortoise or Turtle

Even though it is, in theory, possible to provide your turtle with the environment it needs to thrive, most people don't have the time, money, or desire to put so much effort into their turtle pet. Here are the main reasons you shouldn't get a turtle or tortoise.

1. You Don't Have Enough Room

Like mentioned above, even the smallest turtles and tortoises require a lot of square footage to live happily. Many turtles also need both an aquatic and a terrestrial environment, a place where they can completely dry off.

A medium-sized tortoise such as a South American Yellow or a Red Foot requires serious square footage. It can be expensive to provide that in tank form, but don't think this means they can freely roam your house. Read the next reason to find out why!

2. You Can't Maintain the Correct Temperature Consistently

In a well-meaning attempt at giving my now-deceased Red Foot tortoise some more room to roam, I let him amble through my former Chicago apartment.

He disappeared! I couldn't believe it! It wasn't until several weeks later that I found his rigor mortised carcass. He had somehow found his way into the only non-heated room in the house.

Even without mishaps like this, it's difficult to maintain the correct temperature in a tank environment, and you'll need to purchase thermometers to make sure your pet is at the ideal heat level.

3. You Can't Give the Reptile a Secure Habitat

I once had a box turtle named Geronimo (not a good name for a turtle.) I thought I had a wonderful habitat set up for him in my yard with over 100 square feet of space surrounded by chicken wire. However, he either climbed out, or a cat jumped in and claimed him. Either way he disappeared within the span of a week.

If you try to give them the space they need in anything besides a tank environment, you'll find it hard to secure.

4. You Think You Know Everything Because You Read One Article or Book

I thought I knew everything I needed to know because I'd read one book about box turtles when I was a kid. I placed three healthy specimens in a barren enclosure on my porch. However, all three perished, overheating in this enclosure which didn't provide the required temperature gradient or shelter needed by all reptiles.

It was also too small, and lacked substrate. You will find a lot of conflicting information on turtles and tortoises published as if in great authority. If you are serious about being a good pet-owner, you'll need to read several sources to understand the high level of care that these animals require.

5. The Turtle and Tortoise Pet Trade Threatens Native Species

This reason could arguably be #1 on the list, but I wanted to get some of the extreme cautions out of the way first. Where I live (Wisconsin in the United States), there used to be a large population of box turtles.

Hundreds of thousands of these were sold to the pet trade and to educational/medical suppliers in the past four decades. The species is not protected, but I fear it's too late. I've been looking for them in the wild all my life and have never seen one. You can hear the same story all over the world: Asian, Indian, African (especially Madagascar species) are all on decline. In many parts of the world, it's against the law to own some species.

6. They Carry Disease

I once cuddled up with my Red Foot tortoise and fell asleep only to wake up with a putrid warm and wet turd planted inches from my nose. Tortoises can carry salmonella and herpes to name two of the more upsetting diseases out there.

Although the claims that all small turtles carry salmonella are dubious, anyone handling these creatures would do well to constantly wash their hands after handling. Oh yeah, and don't take naps with them. Or give them to kids that might lick them or their fingers after handling.

7. You Can't Give Your Turtle or Tortoise an Adequate Diet

Most turtles and tortoises are omnivores, though some are strict vegetarians and others are carnivores. Each species has not only a varied diet, but in many cases each has a very specific list of foods that are usually only available in their home range.

Whatever you do, don't think your pet can survive on pellets from a pet store. This is a death sentence. All turtles and tortoises need a lot of fresh food.

8. Your Dog Might Eat Your Turtle

My roommates once had an ornery pet Chow. I came home from work one day to find the dog tearing open my box turtle. It was a tragedy.

Also, about a month later, the dog mysteriously died. I've read that many box turtles carry built up levels of toxins in their bodies because they eat mushrooms and other things that are poisonous to most other animals.

9. You Can't Afford a Head-Started Hatchling

In another mixture of misguided attempt at animal husbandry I bought a half-year-old leopard tortoise because he was cheap, around $100. Unfortunately, his enclosure was too close to a window. It wasn't encased because I thought that tortoises didn't need to be in a tank-type enclosure. I was wrong.

At that tiny size, the creature needed humidity and temperature that was strictly monitored, and grossly absent in the enclosure I provided. I brought the hatchling to a veterinarian where he administered a vitamin that brought him around for a few days.

Instead of taking the vet's advice and putting him in an enclosed tank until he was larger, I brought him home to his former enclosure. The tortoise perished a few days later.

10. You Want an Exotic Pet for a Status Symbol

This is maybe the worst reason to buy a turtle or tortoise. It means your heart is not really in it, and you will not be taking all the steps necessary to care for this environmentally needy pet.

If you want people to know how interesting you are, read a book or buy a Rolex. Leave these vulnerable creatures out of it.

11. Once You Buy One, They Are Not Easy to Rehome

Turtles are the most abandoned pet in the United States (probably because of the reasons I've outlined above). However, releasing your pet into the wild is a bad idea. It's very dangerous for the turtle (who is unlikely to survive), and to the native population, which it can infect with diseases or damage through increased competition for resources. Zoos are also often reluctant to take them, because of the aforementioned reasons.

 Great Hatchling Sulcata Tortoise / / CC BY 2.0
Great Hatchling Sulcata Tortoise / / CC BY 2.0 | Source

If You Still Want a Pet Tortoise or Turtle, Get Informed

If you must buy a turtle or tortoise, read a lot about them. Ask trainers, vets, or zoo keepers how to successfully care for these delicate creatures. Just because they have a shell does not make them indestructible.

If I have exposed myself to ridicule here so be it. I deserve it. I should be ashamed of my gross mistakes in turtle and tortoise pet-care and I am. I hope that this article at least, will give some people food for thought about purchasing a turtle or tortoise.

I have vowed to never purchase another turtle or tortoise again, unless I own a property where I can provide it the absolute best environment.

Things to Consider If You Still Want to Buy a Turtle or Tortoise

  • Take into careful consideration all the many needs these animals require. They are wonderful and fascinating creatures. Read books, articles, and ask professionals their advice on turtle care.
  • If you must buy one, consider purchasing a red-eared slider as they are one of the easiest to take care of. It's also one of the few species that is actually doing too well in the wild as it invades the environments of species that lay eggs less frequently.
  • However, should you purchase a slider, be warned that because they are an aquatic species, they have a dynamic (read: odoriferous and gooey) bioload (poop) that needs to be filtered and cleaned frequently. (My thanks to a reader, Taylor, who wrote an eloquent rebuttal in the Comments Section on why Russian Tortoises are much easier to maintain as pets than Red Eared Sliders. Namely, they don't need a tank full of water to stay happy. Please read her comment below to find out more).
  • Box Turtles are absolutely not for beginners, nor are Red Foots, Spider Tortoises, or Pancake Tortoises. Choose your pet wisely, and don't be afraid to consult and listen to a veterinarian if you need help.

I encourage anyone with a knowledgeable opinion in the matter to leave more reasons below in the comments section.

Where turtles belong.
Where turtles belong.

A Heart-Warming Turtle Story From the Comments

Here's an excerpt from the comment section below (edited for clarity and length).

" . . . My son and I captured a nickel-sized hatchling painter this year, and held onto it for a day. My son begged and pleaded to keep it. Instead, we released it on the same lake where we found it (albeit a little closer to our house). A few months later we saw a small tortoise off the pier, near where we had released it. It had doubled in size and was covered in some algae, looking healthy and happy. We're so lucky to live near a turtle's natural home and to visit him like a neighbor!"

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    • profile image

      Alice 9 days ago

      Should I still buy a turtle after reading this?

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      Me 2 weeks ago

      Jesus christ you’re basically a turtle serial killer who tf makes that many mistakes when something’s life is on the line

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      justin 2 weeks ago

      what turtle eats mice?

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      Julie 3 weeks ago

      My daughter brought home a male and female RES from a friend who didn't want to care for them any longer. Most likely for the reasons mentioned above. I need to re-house them both since the female is quite large now. The cost of providing these turtles with a new habitat will run me over $1000 CA, which is in addition to the $1000 I have already spent. I feel so sorry for them, as they deserve to be in their own natural environment. Just may spend the $1k on shipping them to a RES sanctuary.

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      Kim 4 weeks ago

      Thanks for your candor. I really want a pet turtle my very small, city apartment really doesn't have space for a 10 gallon tank.

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      Ae47373 5 weeks ago

      It sounds like a lot of these deaths were easily preventable. In one instance you even acknowledge disregarding a vet's advice, returning your pet to conditions you knew to be unsuitable, resulting in the turtle's death. It is misleading to say "few can keep a turtle or tortoise and have them thrive". All that is required is a minimum level of preparation, responsibility, and willingness to heed the advice of professionals.

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      Noah 5 weeks ago

      video didn't help me

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      Michelle Stirling 6 weeks ago

      You didn't take a vets advice and you're surprised the animals you were trying to care for died?

      Also, you seem to think that 'turtles' and 'tortoises' are the same?

      Rigghhtttt.

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      July 2 months ago

      I have 4 turtles. 2 Florida Cooters and 2 red eared sliders. All have their own aquariums and heaters and filters and islands and uvb lights. So no its not impossible to keep them happy and healthy. Im ready to get a tortoise too now

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      Jess 2 months ago

      Thanks for your honest report on your experiences with tortoises. I was sure it would be the pet for me, but your logic tells me that it won`t do at all.My problem is finding an ideal little pet for a lonely retired lady who is out quite a bit, namely, me! Probably it won`t be a good idea to get any pet now, I`ll have to watch animal programmes on tv instead!

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      Matt 2 months ago

      While there is underlying truth in this article, it is WILDLY EXAGGERATED! As a turtle parent of many many years, I can say that keeping turtles is an amazing experience. It just takes a little research and attention to detail. Don't try to discourage others just because you aren't responsible enough to keep a turtle. Also, 500-1200 for initial set up for one turtle????? I'd love to know what you smoked to come up with that figure. 50 gallon Clear plastic Rubbermaid storage bins can be bought at Walmart for 10 bucks, my entire setup cost me about 100 per habitat, and according to their vet, my turtles are healthier than I am, and will probably out live me. Educate yourself before writing articles.

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      mandit 3 months ago

      I have a two year old baby tortoise. she is a Russian tortoise. I got her when she was one. She is so sweet. she is two and a half now. she is healthy and a super easy pet to take care of. I think there are a lot of hype to take care of them. Its so easy. she is in a 40 gal tank the size of a large orange small grapefruit. she is healthy. I made her cozies. mine loves them I crocheted them and she keeps warm in the winter. she gets a bath once a week maybe twice. we don't have salmonella. my kids kiss her shell and head. I pet her all the time. she loves it. it takes time, handling a trust building. OH AND WE CUDDLE WITH HER. she sleeps with us in her cozy in the winter its very very cold at night. she is in fact nestled right next to me as I type this in her cozy. my daughter still cherishes her. my son adores her and is thirteen. if you love them, they become like family and not forgotten and they get depressed sure you should not buy one if your ready to add one like a member of the family. you will have an awesome friend. and the writer cant keep anything alive. btw fish in a fish bowl an anoles are difficult to keep alive... torts easiest pet ever, I bought a cheap heat lamp at Walmart. I don't use fancy lights they keep breaking and shes healthy as can be

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      Anomonys 3 months ago

      I personally think these are not good reasons on why not buy a turtle or tortoise. Who agrees?

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      Me 3 months ago

      Hello, I am very sorry about all the rude comments people have said on here. I own a female Red-Eared Slider who is now about 3 1/2 years old.

      I am planning on giving her away to a pet shop, because I am moving and cannot take her with me. I appreciate your advice and your willingness to put your mistakes on display--it isn't easy!- but I hope you have found the right pet for you! Taking care of a turtle is difficult, as I am guilty of neglecting my turtle and desiring a pet with warmth and empathy.

      This article should be accepted because it is the truth: I am not sure how much I spend on my turtle every week but food itself costs 10-15$ because it has a mixture (which I must buy at least twice a month). The 55 gal tank was bought years ago (on sale) for around 100$, and the two bulbs are around 15$ each, and they blow about once or twice a month! I am also a college student so that leaves me little time to take care of her. It is easy to disregard these words when you don't really take care of the turtle or give them minimal care, but only a dedicated owner can make the mistakes you have and tell about them. The mistakes you made were the result of much care and aspiration to be a good owner!

      Overall, I think that your article is a lesson given from hard learned lessons that have sadly cost the lives of many turtles and tortoises, and you don't want that for anyone (or turtle) else. These words should be heeded not sneered at. Have a blessed day!

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      blink 3 months ago

      The only thing this article demonstrates is that YOU should not have a pet turtle. How many animals had to die before your dumb ass realized that YOU'RE too stupid to care for another living creature? Seriously, half your points reference at least one dead reptile; caused by you're staggering retardedness. This isn't an advice blog mate, it's prima facia evidence of relentless animal cruelty. Never write nor buy a pet again you absolute CRETIN!!!!!!!!!

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      Julie 3 months ago

      Before you think your turtle has died you should know that determining a turtle is dead is very difficult. Even experienced reptile vets keep a turtle for at least 24 hours after euthanizing a turtle to be sure. I have rescued thousands of turtles on road crossings, and taken hundreds in to be treated by a local vet who accepts wildlife for free, and many had injuries that looked like the turtle could not possibly be alive, but many of them were. Before deciding your turtle is dead, you need the advice of an experienced reptile vet.

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      Max Curbelo 4 months ago

      Everyone should completely disregard this article.

      Reason: Practically every comment (Read if you want just trying to save you time)

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      George M Jempty 4 months ago

      NPR is running a segment about regrets during 2017 this coming Friday morning (Dec 29 2017) and mine is about not saving a turtle headed for the road when driving away from the vets. I started telling my wife that I wanted a turtle but she pointed out they had salmonella plus I found this article and read about all the other issues. We have decided, and this is something others who are considering getting a turtle for a pet might also consider, to instead donate to a turtle rescue

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      Jena 5 months ago

      Sorry but most of this I disagree with... a turtle that lives most of it's time in the water does not need gravel or any substrate for that matter. That is optional. Yes it makes the tank look nicer, but it's a pain to clean. I have a red eared slider I had her for about 10ish years and we never put gravel or anything like that in her tank, and my dad just changes her filter frequently and that keeps the water pretty good. Also the temperature downstairs where I keep her is always at a good temperature. It never gets too freezing or too hot and so forth because my parents have a built in air conditionar/heater. She mainly has a pellet diet, and been thriving on that for years and she is healthy. I sometimes switch out her pellets for dried meal worms or I buy her bunch of fish occassionaly (usually when my parents and I go on trips) to keep her occupied. Her tank is secured and she has never escaped out of her tank. Not all dogs kill turtles or any animal either.. yes some doggies do but mine wouldn't even care about the turtle. But we also never let the turtle interact with my dogs. It's just will stress a turtle out to be near a animal like that. We actually never really handle her either. We just let her live in her tank. On occassion I'll bring her out. But she is rather happy in her tank. And what kind of idiot sleeps and cuddles with a turtle???? And my turtle happen to be a impulse. Kind of. My uncle didn't want the turtle anymore so he gave the turtle to me to take care of and I had her ever since and my dad and I take care of her and we learn more about the care each day. In fact we are getting her a larger tank since she outgrew her old one and I am going to even make her a really nice basking area too (she does have a basking area but it's not handmade it's just a log and a floating dock that is totally useless cause it doesn't hold her weight) Yes turtles are a lot of work and a big commitment but they can make great pets for the right owner. They are also really relaxing animals. I can sit and watch my turtle for hours lmao.

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      Carolyn Stanard 5 months ago

      I have a pet male Russian tortoise had him 4 years now do believe he is almost fully grow he might have 2 or 3 more inches to grow got he not to small at the pet store now he knows his way around my two bedroom apartment his name is max and he eats veggies every day now he hibernating

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      Anonymous 6 months ago

      Also, you are exaggerating the cost too much. You don't need 500 dollars for a setup, that is just absurd. I don't want to seem like a jerk, but also you should be unbiased for your opinion.

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      Anonymous 6 months ago

      You seem like your pushing people away from the idea of getting a pet turtle. You build a rule from an exceptional accident that may or may not happen to someone. I didn't like your article. Plus, there are many small turtles why would you recommend red ears as starters?

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      Carol 6 months ago

      I have had a tortoise for 43 years ...he lives in my front garden and during winter hibernates under a bush....I feed him lettuce and he roams round the garden.

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      MR 6 months ago

      Umm. It takes years for box turtles to mature and lay eggs (like 5 years), so keep waiting...

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      Maeve 6 months ago

      I'm a 13 year old and I have more common sense than you, you are the dumbest person ever to get turtle after turtle and once they die, welp, you just get another one. It is disgraceful that you didn't do the proper research and you have the audacity to tell actually informed soon to be tortoise owners like me to rethink getting one because of the dumb mistakes that you made that you wouldn't have made if you made an effort to have proper care for the beautiful reptile that turtles and tortoises are. You are at fault for taking the lives of multiple reptiles that had the right to a full life, not to mention your friends dog's life.

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      Beau 6 months ago

      I think turtles are great pets, some have lived to be released and some died. I have two right now who have lived in the same tank, 1 for the last 20 years and the other for 14 years, both are healthy and have eaten pellets their whole life.

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      skankhunt 42 7 months ago

      Just because people are shitty and think animals are pets shouldnt be the reason to not get a tortoise

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      Christina 7 months ago

      How do you know if your turtle is male or female? How does their breeding cycle work?

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      Halee 7 months ago

      I got a turtle about 5 weeks ago I've never owned a turtle before and it was a baby box turtle witch is a female and she is so nice and sweet and cute her diet is : worms, sometimes watermelon, lettuce, and a cherry tomatoe he is very happy about about a week before I got hime I got a new one and they where best friends and he's never been better until I gave away my turtle I just got and he was lonely trying to get out of his chafe and barely eating but yesterday I brought home a male box turtle and now he eats a lot he's happy and soon there should be eggs

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      Tina 7 months ago

      my baby name is Rebecca and I tried to do everything I can for her to make sure she warm and award is always clean and she eat crickets she e Palace she got a lot of food so I don't see her like that all day but she do eat enough so am I doing a great job with Rebecca

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      Leo Sinnott 8 months ago

      Have Russian Tortoise for 5 years now, no problems, bath 4 X's a week. He is interactive as he gets up and follows me around the house until I give him his baby doll. He humps the doll then he then eats and back to the doll. This and his outside time keeps him happy. He an a younger Herman female have a heavy bricked containment area 10 X 5 X 2 feet with screen covering to protect from preditors, they come into the house nightly. I can offer one recommendation, feed carrots, it controls parasites.

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      Tanya deweaver 8 months ago

      I was 11 when I got my first turtle and managed to keep him alive for a year and a half I kept him in a small tank and changed his water 4 times a week and feed him your just a bad owner if an 11 year old can manage to take care of a turtle and keep it alive for that long with just a small tank a few rocks for its tank while changing the water frequently and feeding it u can to ur just a very shitty owner and shouldn't ever purchase a turtle or any type of animal/reptile again

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      Ari 8 months ago

      Totally agree. If you are not ready to commit to a unilateral relationship (YOU giving pleasure to your pet), better buy a cat or a dog. Torts and turts are reptiles, mind you, so they don't show the sort of affection dogs or cats do. They are cute and fun to watch, however. I personally keep 6 of those; 1 tort, 5 turts. The tort is more amusing than the turts because they are more docile, gentle and can share the same habitat as ours.

      I recommend RES for beginners because they are tough and resilient. I had 3 of them, 1 died due to jaw infection, the other two are more than 10yo now and are healthy. TIP: If you want to get one, choose one with attitude, not appearance. Ones that are dominant (claiming the best basking spot in early morning,) fearless, are likelier to survive babyhood. Remember also that if you do want one, be ready to commit to keep them for years. My RESs survive on a diet of pellets, shrimp scraps, live fishes and veggies (occasionally), the eat almost anything. And they spend 99.9% of their lives in the water. I kept the RES in small 2 cubic feet aquarium (yea, I know, too small for a half-foot turt,) and they were fine with it. I changed the water once every 2 or 3 days because I have no filtration system (had them, they clog up every 2 days.) So I don't think they actually need as much space as mentioned in the article. I now have a small pond to keep them, though, and they acted just like when they were in their aquariums (following you around, thinking you're food.) Some caution, cute as they may be, RESs are aggressive and they WILL bite you in self defense or accidentally if you try to hand feed them, so hand-feeding is NOT recommended. As a matter of fact, petting them is not recommended. A friend of mine mischievously handled my RES, got bitten, and had severe infection. They also carry a lot of germs with them, so wash your hands often after handling them. Water from their aquarium helps road-kills decompose 2x faster (YES, we don't have anyone to take care of road-kills here, so they may lay there for quite a while...) which proves it is full of nasty, nasty germs.

      As for the tort, I keep it in my backyard. I built it a burrow using an overturned large bucket with 1/4 side cut open as entrance, and a small tub for it to hydrate and wallow. Both are tucked in the shady corners of the yard. I sometimes allow it to enter my house. I don't recommend torts for beginners, they do require much space as they love to explore, and they require more care than the RES. I also don't recommend mixing dogs with torts or turts, there are cases when the torts bite the dog in an exploratory manner, and the dog ended up chewing up the torts. Torts poop big and unlike dogs, they cannot be trained, so keeping them like you keep your dogs indoors is not recommended.

      I may not be the best pet-keeping person in the world, as some of my pets died prematurely and some died after a long life. I did the some basically same mistakes the writer of the article did, and I don't blame him. He tried, I tried, my equipment for keeping the pets are more rudimentary compared to his, lacking vets too (they are expensive, you know,) but we love our pets.

      My word of advice, consider something more general, like a dog, a cat, a rabbit, a mice, or a hamster, before deciding on a reptile as a pet...

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      Ramakant 9 months ago

      I found a small two inch long turtle near my house, not knowing what to do, I brought it home, made a small pond for it, tried to feed it with pellets, but it does not like it, then found some earthworms, it happily eat earthworms. No idea what habitat it is from and how to keep it...I am from India

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      Matthew 10 months ago

      I really don't think you should ever own any kind of pet again. Ever.

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      Cindy Hunnicutt 10 months ago

      I am sorry, but my comment to you is going to be mean. You sound like and idiot. You openly admit to going against your vets advice and let your sick tortoise die. You didn't realize that turtles are quite expert diggers and were surprised it "got out" and escaped. I am certainly not an expert on reptiles, but a little basic knowledge and common sense would help you. You sound like you haphazardly went about having a turtle or tortoise and knew better than everyone else including your vet and they suffered for it. You definitely should not have a pet anything.

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      JDeWitt 10 months ago

      So I found a turtle hatchling in my pool filter, & he was alive. I set up a nice little habitat for him, & he was doing quite well, eating well, etc. I had him for about two months, and he had grown quite a bit. I set up a bigger habitat, & unfortunately I got a little lax about checking places he could get stuck. Last night, he got stuck between a rock and the side of his tub, & he drowned. I have been incredibly upset about it all day, as it was my fault. I feel just terrible. He had been doing so well, swimming all around, climbing up on his log to bask, eating well... & I had always made sure there were no places he could get stuck, but I missed a spot. Actually it was an area where he could have gotten out when he was a bit smaller, but as he's grown lately, he didn't make it out. It was just horrible to find him. I love little critters, & I have actually seen a couple of these tiny little things squashed on the road. Our pond is full of turtles, which I feed, along with the fish. The bad thing about the pond is that any little creatures, such as baby ducks or baby turtles, get pretty quickly eaten by the big catfish, big turtles, and the herons, hawks, and owls that frequent it. So when I find something like a live baby turtle, I want to help it grow & thrive. Next time, I will be diligent about keeping the tub or aquarium safe. Sad day.

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      Kish 11 months ago

      People should really actually READ the article.

      First, every reptile lover can tell you that you don't need nearly that much space. From Reptiles Magazine. "A 30-gallon tank is the absolute minimum size for smaller species measuring between 4 and 6 inches. For turtles between 6 and 8 inches, a 55-gallon tank is appropriate. And for turtles measuring more than 8 inches, tanks in the 75- to 125-gallon range are a better choice." According to this article, it would require 3-4x the tank size. That's grossly incorrect.

      The writer admits to leaving the turtle out with a dog around, then surprised when the dog, a hunting animal, killed it.

      The writer admits to IGNORING THE VETS ADVICE about a habitat, and then being surprised when it died.

      Constantly says pet-trade is dangerous, but the pet trade today has practically zero effect on the invasiveness of species. Back a few decades, they'd import the animals en masse, then release them when no one bought them. On top of that, nowadays, there are many places that will adopt turtles and other reptiles that you can no longer care for. You don't have to release them into the wild, on top of that, releasing an animal that was bred in captivity is a death sentence.

      The moral of this article isn't "don't get a pet turtle/tortoise" - It's "The person who wrote this article is terrible at taking care of pet turtles and tortoises and tries to scare people away with their horror stories."

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      Karlea 11 months ago

      Who do you think cleans the pond water turtles live in ... Noone ... I only change my turtles water when its cloudy every few months been doing this with him since i got him for over 10 years ... I also have 3 other turtles i have adopted over the years ... Only turtles i had die on me were bc my original turtle picked on them ... 120 dollars worth of turtles gone 6 baby turtles gone turns out my original turtle needed to be with a girl who was bigger then him to be the boss lmao all he will eat is fish and pellets thats it ... Where 2 of the others will eat almost any veggies and pelletts thats it no fish

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      Sinrick 11 months ago

      My boyfriend and I have a 7-year old female red-eared slider turtle, she died last night. If I have read this article before we bought my red red-eared slider, his tragic death could have been avoided. We prayed and beg for her forgiveness for being such a lousy owner. In this few months my boyfriend only change the water once a week(with a underwater filter). The temperature here at the Philippines is so high 86.0 °F. Her male red-eared slider companion is still alive and about 6 years old by now. Is it still worth if we keep the male one or do we need to set him free? I am very depressed and scared that the male slider might die too. :'(

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      Uzo 11 months ago

      Thank you so much for this article. I just stumbled across it and your article has saved a lot of stress and heartache. I wanted to get a turtle for my little girl but on reading this article and weighing up all the options, it's not the right pet for us. Thank you so much for saving us a lot of heart ache

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      Anon 12 months ago

      Wtf... I've had my hermanns tortoise for over 10 years now and he was my very first pet. By the sounds of it your just a shitty owner... not sure how you could mess up so badly that it resulted in the deaths of so many innocent souls. Please refrain from buying anymore pets or even having children for that matter.

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      Moaning for my pet turtle 13 months ago

      Me too...If I have read this article before I bought my red ear slider, his tragic death could have been advoided. He passed on today. Struggled with RI and fungal infection. He is very brave and I am very proud of him. I prayed and beg for his forgiveness for being such a lousy owner. In the first few months I only change the water once a week(with a underwater filter). The fish tank is too small and the busking light too near to him. I have learnt my mistake and I will definitely think twice about keeping one again.

      Btw after I fed him fresh prawn and fish(which was about two weeks after I brought him home), he totally reject turtle food. Wonder is that a common trend, or that he is just too picky...

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      turtlepie101 14 months ago

      i am doing a report on why dogs are better than turtles this helped a lot thanks

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      dede 14 months ago

      lauren,, I, absolutely agree,,

      a, tortoise,, is, a lifetime commitment. of love.. and care..and more long after....

      and very special indeed, and for those.. who may not be able

      to have annual checkups with a specialized vet, ..

      a tortoise, is not really a pet, it is an environmental challenge..

      and so very acute of any changes.. and still.. the pages of Veterinary médecine,, have so much to.. discover..Yet, the more people.. such as you.. guide us.. and spell your input..

      We. will be able.. to read, learn, and comprehend, the fragile. and distinctive challenges they face, in their optimal fragile and respective conditions..

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      lauren 14 months ago

      I'm in total agreement about thinking tortoises can thrive when taken out of their natural climates. Red Foots need humidity...very hard to maintian the high level of humidity for 3/4 of the PA year. Every Red Foot Guide/Book suggests the proper measurement of soils and sphagnum moss for substrate. I came to find out that living in the same soil, only breeds illness. When I was advised to take out the soil and replace it with newspaper, breathing became quiet almost immediately. Unless you are a millionaire, living in PA, pets aren't going to have the flowers and cactus that they eat in South America. Do people know there are differences between tropical and Southern Tortoises? People can keep just about anything alive, but it's foolhardy to take species out of their natural habitat and expect them to "bloom where they're planted". They're not dogs.

      Thank you.

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      anonymous 15 months ago

      today i just realized that i wanted a tortoise. i even started a presentation. but now that i read this, i'm not sure that i even want a pet tortoise anymore because i realized how much room it took up, and i have no idea how to care for one. the fact that it carries diseases completely destroyed what i wanted. thank you so much for knocking some reality into me ;)

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      Blinky 17 months ago

      My dream is to own a second turtle... but I am 12 and I have a separate room for the turtle, I am a girl who does research before I do my actions... I have you know I have loved them ever since I was 3 I was obsessed with these beautiful creatures, I am not sure how much more posts I can take...of people saying things like this... They make a great pet,I should know I had a turtle for 8 years then the neighbors brought there dog on a get together and then the dog ate my turtle...

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      Rocky 17 months ago

      Thanks so much for your advice! Great article that will help me to make a decision.

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      Darkghoul 18 months ago

      I hope I don't upset anyone with this post.. I saw a movie called cannibal holocaust where a poor turtle was mercilessly murdered. I was so upset by it, it made me want to buy a turtle of this type and care for one but after reading here how hard it is to care for one I better think twice. I see everyone mentioning all kinds of turtles but I never seen the type of turtle from this horrible movie mentioned. It was a yellow spotted river turtle and quite large which means it was probably 60 years or older. Why kill something that already lived so long. Made me want to really hunt down that actor and the director, even though the movie was made in 1980. I know it was real cause they killed six other animals in that movie, but the turtle got to me the most. I'm a horror movie buff but never saw that coming or I wouldn't have watched it in the first place. Anyway, I take it that this species of turtle is extremely hard to care for. Just looking for thoughts and feedback since I know everyone here likes or even own turtles and can give more info on the yellow spotted river turtle.. Thanks for reading my rant...

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      Ben Zoltak 20 months ago

      tejas, sounds like you have some beautiful tortoises and quite a dilemma...if it's legal in your area you can sell them to someone better suited to take care of them. There may be an animal rescue in the area that might also take them, I've heard zoos almost never do, although those are so rare maybe it wouldn't hurt to ask? Veterinarians and naturalists more skilled than I say not to leave them in the wild for fear of introducing disease to the native reptile population.

      I hope that helps my friend.

      Ben

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      tejas 20 months ago

      I have two star turtles from more than 6 years...now they are alost 12 inch long. and the maintainance for him is almost not passible.

      suggest me what to do with them...should i leave them in wildlife or in zoo..

      please suggest me on my mail id. tejasthetw@gmail.com.

      Thanks

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      Ben Zoltak 20 months ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Nagato, Susanah and Jonnie, thanks for sharing your experiences with turtles. Sounds like you're on your way to keeping good care of more. Yes, more space is always better, they can survive in a minimum, but you run a higher risk of stressing them out and getting turtles and tortoises more sick.

      Best

      Ben

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      Nagato 20 months ago

      I've had to learn the hard way about how important water temperature is. I lost 3 turtles (2 red ear sliders and a soft shell) the soft-shell became sick and died, getting the 2 others sick and they later died. It was an idiotic mistake on my part because I already had snapper and red ear, and they're still alive and well. Snappers are pretty strong. I have 2 snappers, one red ear and a baby yellow belly that my mother and sister bought from Florida as a gift. I don't need anymore turtles. The snapping turtles are going to be a lot of work once they're fully grown but I don't think they'll get that big. One is a baby, probably about 4 inches and the other one is about 2-3 years old and is about 6-7 inches. All of my turtles are kept seperately. I'll eventually move the yellow belly with red ear in a bigger tank once it has grown. It's still a baby. They all eat well, I give them live fish, fruits and veggies.

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      Oogway 21 months ago

      I will buy one I have money space whatever you want

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      divesh panjwani 21 months ago

      sir your posts was so awesome and kmowledgeable thank you for sharing with us...

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      Susanna 23 months ago

      I grew up with a tortoise called Shelly. He must have been some kind of African tortoise. My parents rescued him from some dogs near our farm when I was a baby. We built him a huge compound in our backyard, fed him cabbage and watermelon and occasionally let him out to explore the rest of the garden. He hibernated by himself and even let us wake him up from time to time. Never got salmonella poisoning, never had any health issues. He got massive! Had to give him away after the divorce. I now deffinitely want to get a another one, thinking it was really easy the first time, but now I guess it had more to do with him being a sturdy breed and having all that space. Maybe the reason they die is because they get depressed? Guess I'll have to wait till I have a house with a backyard.

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      Jonnie h 24 months ago

      Wish I'd read this before taking my friends Turtle. I took it like 11 years ago. :-( red eared sliders. The one died in like a month. when she gave it to me he had soft shell so I separated them and he died. The other one is kicking it at like 7 inches in just shell.

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      Ben Zoltak 2 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Jo! The Russians are the northermost of all tortoise species from what I've read, and they also live as far south as Afganistan! Really glad to hear they're doing well!

      Ben

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      Jo 2 years ago

      Hey nice article! This is pretty late but I agree that too many tortoises have died becaude of careless mistakes. I myself spent a lot of time researching about russian tortoises before I owned two. They are still doing well and are quite active after 6 years.

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Tabbikat! So kind and thoughtful, thank you, this comment that you wrote is why I continue to leave this article published:

      "I totally thought that you put a turtle in a tank and give it water and lettuce and that's it. I was so wrong! Thank you for enlightening me. My son will have to wait to make this decision when he is much older, and living in his own place. Lol I will be getting him something "non-living" for his birthday. Thank you for being upfront and honest. I do not want to get a pet that I can't care for! It's not fair to the pet. God bless!"

      Someday your son may be ready, and you too, maybe even before he gets his own place ;o) But if not, consider getting him a book about turtles/tortoises, or visiting a nature preserve or pond or zoo where there are tortoises. I know of a secret place in Madison, Wisconsin that's right in the city, hidden behind some willow trees in a very small creek, where many turtles congregate! It's great to observe them in their wild habitat. There are also several other places I know of where you can view giant aldabra and galapagos tortoises at zoos and attractions.

      Thanks again for your comment, warms my heart to know people are considerate to others who bare their soul's mistakes about caring for turtles.

      Ben

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      Tabbikat 3 years ago

      So, my son ask for a turtle for his birthday. He will be 6! He loves the TMNT. I read a few articles from pet stores about all the good of having a turtle as a pet. (They just want to make money so they are bias!) I also have a soon to be 4 year old. After reading your article I will not be getting a turtle for my son. He is WAY too young and frankly, I don't want the resposability either. We also have inside cats and a dog. I understand what one woman was saying about Samilela, that it's rare. I really don't care if it is rare, I don't want to take the chance with my kids so young! What good mom would? I totally thought that you put a turtle in a tank and give it water and lettuce and that's it. I was so wrong! Thank you for enlightening me. My son will have to wait to make this decision when he is much older, and living in his own place. Lol I will be getting him something "non-living" for his birthday. Thank you for being upfront and honest. I do not want to get a pet that I can't care for! It's not fair to the pet. God bless!

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thank you Squam, for your expert observation about herps/reptiles related to the value of this essay.

      Ben

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      Squam 3 years ago

      It's not that complicated. Most things you mentioned here are more than obvious for herpers/reptile owners. However for children, who think these animals are living rocks that only eat lettuce and move slow, everything here is worth reading by their parents.

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Cassi, for sharing your experience with turtles, and the especially sensitive hatchlings.

      Ben

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      Cassi2525 3 years ago

      My kids found a baby turtle a few years ago at a public park. It was obviously newly hatched. Unfortunately, some older kids had viciously murdered his siblings and left smashed-turtle evidence all around. (They ran away as we approached) My kids were traumatized and freaked out at the thought of this survivor falling victim. I tried to scare him away, but he just sat there. I finally agreed (against my better judgement and probably in spite of the law) to take him home...warning my kids the whole way that it is really hard to keep wild baby aquatic turtles alive in captivity and telling them not to be surprised if he didn't make it. Well, here we are 3 years later with a healthy slider in a heated aquarium in our living room. I have to say, if it weren't for my knowledge of reptile care and some good friends who rehabilitate turtles, he wouldn't be alive. UVB lights are a huge necessity that many people overlook. Water quality and tank size are important. Turtles produce a lot of waste and require excellent filtration, and their tank needs to be cleaned regularly. Water temperature needs to be regulated and they need a designated basking area where they can get completely out of the water and dry themselves. Also, this little guy developed and abcess in his neck last year. There are no reptile vets in our area, and he got so swollen he couldn't eat. Under the direction of a woman who rehabilitates turtles (not local), I literally had to perform surgery on him myself. (Small incision in his neck with a sterile scalpel, remove all of the infection, clean with bentodine, treat water to prevent further infection...) He is very healthy and happy now, fortunately. (Aside from being undersize because we had a difficult time getting him to eat as a baby and during the time he was suffering with the abcess) So, as you can see, I agree with you. Turtles are not pets for the average person. They aren't an impulse buy. This one turtle has cost a few hundred bucks to house properly and feed. He's nearing his 3rd birthday and he has a 2 year old 'brother'. (A Map turtle...my kids thought he was lonely) They have an African clawed frog friend, a pleco, and 2 Cory cats too. They all get along well. Again, I'd say the only reason for our success with them and their good health is my experience with reptiles and the help of the people I know.

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks for sharing your experience and opinions on turtle care Manu.

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      Manu 3 years ago

      Turtle care might be difficult but it depends upon pure luck. In my experience, the more you worry, the more they are prone to death. Some of them are diseased, so they won't survive no matter what you do. My second attempt at keeping turtles as pets is successful. The Indian shopkeeper advised me to keep them in very less water with no land at all. A pair is more successful in captivity. I feed them ordinary turtle food pellets only. It's is been a year. Changing water 3 to 4 times a day helps.

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      I have a lot of cowards that comment with hate mail on this essay, if they would have the courage enough to leave their name and place of business I'm sure I could answer them more appropriately.

      Warmly.

      Ben Zoltak

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       3 years ago

      That was awesome

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Hey ionatan, if you have any more specific questions, feel free to post them here and I'll see if I can answer them. Or if you find out any little-known info about sulcatttas please share with turtle owners here!

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Well the good news is, ionatan, you clearly have access to the internet and from there a wealth of information. As I mentioned in my essay above, beware of relying only on one source, there is a lot of bad advice out there for all species of turtles and tortoise, but if you check at least three or four different sources, much like anything, you will find consistencies that are illuminating.

      That being said, although the sulcatta may have arrived as an unprepared surprise, congratulations on becoming a steward to one of the worlds most beautiful creatures. I am not an expert on sulcattas so please double check my advice against other sources.

      All chelonians need a temperature gradient made readily available to them. At least this means, a warm and a cool spot, at best this means a "spectrum" of different temperatures, being cold blooded tortoises they need to regulate their digestion and health by moving from a warmer to hotter to cooler areas. Easily done in Arizona! A little more difficult in Wisconsin where our winters last what? Five months or so? Haha. But it can be done. Your sulcatta would be best housed in it's own room, at a minimum of 5 x 5' feet, with more being better in this case. You can let the tortoise roam the house, but experts agree you are supposed to supervise them if they roam, then return them to their enclosure after some exercise. They also need UVA and UVB lighting, which can be purchased online or from a pet store. Usually one fluorescent and one heat lamp type. A thermometer in the enclosure will help you monitor it's environment. Ironically, indoor Wisconsin environments are probably close to it's dry, desert environment.

      Sulcattas, if I recall correctly are vegetarians, although I've owned vegetarians species that loved a little meat, it should be avoided in the main. Beware too much protein, beans and what not, they prefer fibery vegis, greens (avoid spinach, oxalic acid steals much needed calcium from them) I've heard regular alfalfa hay is a good staple and inexpensive. Otherwise, a diverse mix of vegis, including stubs from cauliflower/broccoli, lettuce (not too much iceberg), carrots, they all love dandelion greens that haven't been sprayed with pesticide of course. They will eat your lawn like a lawn mower haha.

      Some sources say they can go for a long time without water, but I believe in captivity it's safer to make water regularly available to them.

      There's so much more! But I have to go for a hike with my family now! I am a little jealous, sulcattas are sooooo coooool! Don't ever leave them alone with a dog fyi, they may lose a limb or two, or worse!

      Keep reading, buy a book or two! Kingsnake.com used to have some infor also, probably still do....

      Best!

      Ben Zoltak

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      ionatan 3 years ago

      So i stumbled across thid pafe in hopes of finding some information on how to care for a sculcata tortoise. I am in an interesting situation and from what I have researched so far, being in WI, its not the most suitable climate for these animals.

      Lets start by sharing how I got the tortoise. So my son recently had a birthday and for a gift his grandparents decided to get him a turtle. Without any discussion from us, his parents, to our surprise they showed up with a sculcata tortoise that at present must weigh around 20lbs and maybe 12-15" in lengt . Needless to say our first reaction was shock and thought maybe this was just a joke. We figured that maybe the tortoise was only visiting and would return home at the end of the day. As it became more apparent that it was indeed staying, we quickly started to research how to care for this new pet. After realizing this would be difficult, we thanked the grandparents for such a thoughtful gift, but requested it be returned. Their reply was that they would take it home and care for it until our son got older and would like it back. I love my in-laws, but I dont think they are any better suited to care for the tortoise than we are. Plus finding out that returning yhe tortoise may not be an option since the pet store they got it from is closing, we now need to figure out how to care for the pet.

      I guess I am looking for some insight on what the best accomodations I can provide to give the tortoise a long, healthy life being in this wonderful WI climate?

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Well said Gillian, keep up the good husbandery! Glad you are an advocate who uses caution for others of unknown experience! Greeks look SO COOL! Totally nerdilicious torts!

      Cheers,

      Ben

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      gillian moore 3 years ago

      Sorry but i don't agree with the 10 "nos." I've had a greek tort for more than three years and i love it. However i must admit that not any person can deal with a tortoise: they do NOT have the capablity of a dog or a cat, let alone the brains. But if you like torts i believe you can learn to deal with them.

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Talia, I've heard a lot about the mistreatment of parrots too, very intelligent animals, similar to owning a toddler or small child I would bet. Turtles and tortoises are at least somewhat more autonomous, although like any intelligent creature, they enjoy enrichment too.

      Best of luck,

      Ben

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      I have had several similar scenarios too Kathy, and it's tragic. You feel that you're doing them a favor by getting them outside, only to enter them into a less-than-secure situation. It's as though in many circumstances, people would need a locked wrought iron enclosure or a moat!

      Thank you for sharing your experience!

      Ben

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      Talia 3 years ago

      I stumbled upon this article while researching whether or not *I* would be a good candidate for tortoise owner. This gave me a lot to think about although I am not entirely surprised. As the former owner of large, exotic birds I know all too well how blindly some people go into exotic pet ownership. Parrot rescues are absolutely overflowing with physically and emotionally stunted birds. It's rare to find someone that truly has the time, space and knowledge needed in order to keep an exotic pet healthy and happy.

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      kathy Doubleu 3 years ago

      I agree with you, I too have had my aquatic turtles for 3 years, they were doing pretty well until I decided this summer to put them outside in what I felt was a secure enviornment, within a month they both disappeared either they climbed out, someone stole them.I feel it's the second choice as I have lawn guys in my yard weekly and they just happened to disappear on the day they come. I am heart broken, not just for my loss but for the safety of those gentle creatures. They are like dogs, interacting with humans for food. But it's not worth their lives.

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Yeah Indian Stars are very rare from what I gather Kaustubh. I've heard ( I have no references handy...) that breeders of the star are careful not to flood the market with hatchlings because it helps keep the price up. They are beautiful and I would imagine they need a fairly narrow heat gradient if you research where they are from, not to mention most likely a very specific diet.

      Ben

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Living in a dry, desert environment at least gives you some good options, since many species do well there. Certainly the choices you need to make, in order to keep a tortoise healthy in arid conditions are vital!

      I wish you a lot of luck Heather, with solid research from more than one ( at least three ) sources you should be able to make some very informed decisions!

      Best,

      Ben

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      HeatherNM 3 years ago

      Ben,

      Thank you so much for giving me some good food for thought!! I intend on getting my son a pet by the time he turns 12 or so and he is 5 now... sounds strange to start thinking about it now but I especially love turtles and I want to have ample time to research carefully, make a wise decision as to what kind will fit best and prepare so that our family can provide everything necessary for it.... ive had an array of exotic pets (even horned lizards etc) but i know from experience now that the tragedy that follows an unprepared and uninformed pet friend is more than i want to experience again. I live in a very harsh, hot desert environment and i need to think carefully before I act impulsively and devastate my children as I was when my mom bought me fish tank frogs as a child that I repeatedly starved to death, sadly by feeding them the wrong food! Lol

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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Mk, glad you've had a great experience with Chelonians. A vet once told me a lot depends on the individual animal. Some won't eat well, some are prone to being sick.

      Blu, a lot of truth in what you say, alas some people are great stewards of reptiles and chelonians in particular, and so I'm grateful for them, as most species natural habitat are consistently being decimated by homo sapiens sapiens....

      Ana, truth!!! A whole lotta poo! Ironically it's a good thing in a way, says they're healthy! I have an answer for you too. That liquid is gold, if as you say, you have the power-strength for it. Pour it into a jug and let it sit for a month and you have strong, potentially organic liquid compost for house plants and gardens.!!!

      One last item... my son and I captured a nickel-sized hatchling painter this year, held onto it for a day. My son begged and pleaded his case for keeping. We instead released it on the same lake we found it (albeit a little closer to our house ;u) ) A few months later we saw a small tortoise off the pier we released it near, about double the size and covered in some algae looking healthy and happy. We're so lucky to live near a turtles natural home, and to just visit him like a neighbor!!!!

      Be we fellow turtle people!!!

      Ben

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      Ana R. 3 years ago

      Thank you for your complete honestly. If I would have read this article before my lovely mother in law bought my son a baby red slider turtle 3 years ago, without my permission by the way. I would have told her to take his butt back to the pet store that day. 3 years later the baby is not so cute and tiny anymore but seems to crap all day. We have accommodated his growing and his eating habits and i am not ashamed to say, i give up. I finally had to tell my mother in law to take the turtle home with her. I am a total animal lover but this is one animal i would never recommend unless you have the space, time and man power. (strength) because as soon as that tank is clean, this fool craps right away.

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      Blu 3 years ago

      Dont buy tortoises or tirtles trust me. They are the worst pets. Just dont do it. They r the ones who end up suffering not you.

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      Mk 3 years ago

      I have had my tortoise for six years now and I haven't had any problem's with feeding it a correct diet or keeping it at the correct temp so I don't agree with what your saying as long as you have experience I think you can have any pet within reason :)

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
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      Ben Zoltak 3 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Glad to hear it City Kitty. I had the best luck with Red Foot tortoises. Unfortunaetly I made a couple common, bone-headed mistakes. But they ate well and were active and health.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Ben

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      City Kitty 3 years ago

      I don't think it's that hard to raise a tortoise.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
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      Ben Zoltak 4 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Kalifornia, so sorry to hear of the loss of a Hermans. Personally I haven't met anyone who has cared for one (someone I knew had a similar Forsten's tortoise many years ago, that she inherited and was already well acclimated). Thank you for aknowledging the difficulties involved here, I have received many insults and even a few thinly veild threats from writing this article, mainly from disreputable reptile dealers. I know very little about Hermans, other than remembering they have a specialized diet. If you should happen to care to try again, might I recommend a red eared slider or a red-footed tortoise, both are very durable and less picky eaters. Although both have higher humidity requirements than the Hermans did I believe.

      Be well, and enjoy reptiles in the wild any chance you get. A few years ago I found my "secret" spot in Madison, Wisconsin where about a dozen turtles congregate in an old creek behind some disused industrial buildings.

      Ben

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      Kallifornia 4 years ago

      OMG I wish I found this before we got our Hermann Tortoise!! I thought I did plenty of research before...I did hours upon hours just trying to figure out which kind to get, which would best suited to our environment and what would be easiest to care for. We were told and read in several places that the Hermanns were beginner tortoises. To that I say, NOT HARDLY!!!! We had what we felt was an appropriate habitat going by recommendations on various sites, we thought we fed her enough of the right foods, we grew her her own garden, she had heat lamps/UV lamps PLUS we live in a warm, temperate climate where she can enjoy the outdoors and STILL 2 months in, she died. I can not even begin to explain the utter sadness in this house right now (she was my 10 yr olds bday present and we loved this little tortoise like it was family). Coolest pet ever for sure but seriously people...they require SO much specialized care it's not even funny. I'm an animal rescuer and have saved hundreds of animals from the brink of death and nursed them back to health and yet not even I could give that tortoise what it needed to survive!! I'm shocked and saddened and guilt ridden for not taking care of her the way she needed and my kids are basket cases! Word to the wise, get your Ph.D. in chelonian husbandry and THEN consider getting one. They are awesome creatures and deserve only the best care, if you're not 150% ready, please don't do it! I think people can successfully keep turtles/tortoises but I will go out on a limb and say that the people selling it to you will give you, at most, 1% of info you need to know to raise it properly. You need mad amounts of books, many online sources and at least join a turtle/tortoise forum so you have support ready at hand. If you're on the fence, don't do it or at least not until you're ready. We definitely won't be getting another.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
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      Ben Zoltak 4 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Hey Ramon, thank you for your kindness about my experiences with turtles and tortoises, I wish you and any new creatures under your care well. Captive bred Leopard tortoises will be a good species to explore. As far as I can tell they have a stable captive population (avoid wild caughts, some breeders say they are CB when they are actually "Wild caught", a quick bing/google search should verify a breeders reputation for telling the truth). Leopards are beautiful, live long, have a similar diet as sulcattas, and are low humidity, and are about half the size. Although with hatchlings I believe they need more humidity (warm gradient) for some time.

      Best of luck!

      Ben Zoltak

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      Ramon 4 years ago

      Hi huge tortoise fan love them Ive owned 1 tort it was a baby suculta it died after a year due to weather(lived near the beach) Im thinking about getting another one or 2 so they can keep eachother company. But i dont know what kind after skipper died(name of dead tort) i found out if he lived he would have become HUGE and i coundnt do with that. I want something 6-10 inches, hardy, and not something that will be big on humidity. I totally agree with the articale i had no idea the mess i was getting in to when i was buying one now im older and have read alot more on these wonderful creatures. please recommend a type to me so i can research it and if down for it adopt one.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
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      Ben Zoltak 4 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Well said Sarah! A calling, indeed! They do have beautiful eyes, both in Madison, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois I've hung out with zoo Red Foots, next to their misters!

      Thank you for the warm response.

      Ben

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      Sarah 4 years ago

      I have 2 Redfoots and I want to thank you for this hub page. I got them as very small hatchlings and they are almost 2 yrs old and thriving now. Redfoots are NOT easy unless you live in a rain forest. Hatchlings are very fragile. They have a narrow window in terms of their humidity and temperature needs. They need at least 85 to 90 degrees F and 80 to 90% humidity. It's not easy creating "hot rain" in an apartment. They require constant rotation in their diet so you must introduce different greens all the time. It's a labor of love, maybe even a calling. The payoff is huge when they turn those gentle eyes on you... but PLEASE research what you are attempting to undertake.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 4 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Nebs, I wonder are they sulcattas? Just curious, as I've heard they are very difficult to rehome because of their proliferation. I've seen the humping you mention! Not pretty, haha, but lonely creatures need lovin however they can find it I guess. I'd say, get the word out among trusted friends if you want to rehome them, you may find a way. If I had a little more money, I'd drive out their and get them myself. Did I mention I published an ebook: Your Life As A Painting ( ;o) )

      Hope things work out for your tortoises, at least they have California weather!

      Ben

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      NEBS 4 years ago

      My husband has two great big turtles and I'm absolutely sick of all of them (husband included). Now I read that even a zoo will not take the turtles. This makes me sad because I really would like my husband to get rid of them. We cannot afford to feed them anymore since they have become so large. They make a lot of noise too because, although they are both male, they hump each other. The neighbors are complaining about the noise which makes for a very uncomfortable situation. When we lived in WA, they were fine because they had a very large pen in which to roam around and a nice warm shed in which to sleep. Now that we are in CA, the turtle situation is awful. I agree with the author, think twice before getting turtles as pets.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 4 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Suzanne, I sure have made a lot of turtle sellers mad with this article! To be clear, I believe turtles and tortoises can be great pets actually, but they take a lot, and I mean A LOT more care than some would have you believe.

      Maybe in your area you can spot some wild turtles or some in zoos?

      Glad I could help be a part of your daughters research, sounds like a smart cookie, I hope she continues, there is so much to learn about chelonians!

      Ben Zoltak

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      Suzanne 4 years ago

      My daughter asked if she could get a tortoise. We are homeschoolers so I told her she needed to research, do a presentation and convince me why our family should own a tortoise. She read your article and changed her mind. Thank you

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 5 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Shay for your kind words and keen observations. We do have snakes around here, mostly pretty small ones though. I've finally got a place where I could really make a great enclosure so I will take your suggestion to heart and reinforce it on the sides and secure a top if ever I build one and get another turtle. I love North American Woods, they have been my favorite for years. We watched an Asian Wood a few years ago, he was fun too. Ah, still thinking about it.

      Best,

      Ben

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      shay 5 years ago

      I grew up on a farm with dogs, cats, and other animals. I have had several pet turtles and they all did fine. In the house and outside in there enclosure. In the house it helps if they have there own room and if your not home you should never let them roam freely. As for the out side enclosure, you should put a top on it as well as chicken wire on bottom and coverd it with dirt. I take extra care and lined the sides and top of the pin with poulty fence. It has much smaller holes so snakes can't get in with your turtle. Just a few suggestions in case you get another turtle.

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