Introducing a new pet to your home can be a great way to improve your life and well-being. One animal that you can consider is a turtle. There are hundreds of turtle types that you can choose from, and they all can accompany you for tens to hundreds of years. As these numerous options can be overwhelming, here are our top 5 picks that you can consider.
The Russian Tortoise, also known as the Afghan, the Central Asian, the Steppe, the Four-Toed Tortoise, and the Horsefield’s Tortoise, is one of the most popular turtles that you can keep as a pet. In the wild, these turtles are endemic to Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia. They are one of the most common breeds to be domesticated and are usually available in American pet stores and rescue organizations across the country.
These turtles are small in size, but they have a big personality. They love interacting with their owners, and they are also perfect for beginners. Compared to other reptiles, they are much easier to care for, and they usually live for 40 years or much longer.
When they are born, these babies are only one inch in size. But when they are matured, they average 8 to 10 inches in length. The females of the species are generally larger than the males.
They are identifiable through their physical characteristics. First, their carapace is often colored olive color, tan, and yellow with some markings of black and brown. Their tails are bony and hard, but these tails are often longer in males. They stand out compared to other turtles because of the four claws per foot, which is why they earned a nickname.
These tortoises are known herbivores, and you can feed them with leafy greens like collards, dark lettuces, kale, turnip, hay, turnip, and mustard. You can also give them other vegetables like carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, and prickly pear cactus.
In terms of housing, the Russian Tortoise thrives in an outdoor environment with a large pen that usually measures 2 feet by 4 feet with walls that are at least a foot high above the ground and half a foot below. It should also be lined with large rocks, various grasses, and prickly pear.
The painted turtle is a turtle species that are most often found living an aquatic lifestyle inside and around slow-moving bodies of water. It is divided into four subspecies: Southern Painted Turtle, Eastern Painted Turtle, Midland Painted Turtle, and Western Painted Turtle.
These turtles are distinguished through their black shells, which is most often with red markings along their edges. These shells grow to an average size of 12 inches. Like other turtles, the females are generally much larger compared to the males. If you can provide these turtles with the best care that you can, they can live up to 50 years.
Other identifiable features of this turtle are their underbellies colored with a yellow tone. Its skin can also be described to have thin red and yellow lines that are separated by thicker black lines.
Painted turtles are also excellent options for beginner turtle enthusiasts because of their meek and compliant behavior. You just have to make sure that you familiarize yourself with salmonella protection and the demand for specific care requirements that are very much different from mammals.
These turtles are omnivores, which mean that they can eat plant and meat at the same time. Often, these creatures go for romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, chopped mixed vegetables, and collard greens for their plant matter needs. On the other hand, the animal items that they will eat are earthworms, insects, feeder guppies, chopped beef hearts, cooked chicken slices, and the occasional dog food.
Red Ear Slider Turtle
Red ear sliders, also known as red ear terrapins, are considered as the most popular turtles that you can keep as pets, and they have been holding the record for decades. They live long lives that last for 50 years up to 70 years long.
These small turtles can also grow quite long, even up to 2 feet in length, if you give them the best type of care and housing. Females grow to be about 11 inches or 28 cm, while the males are slightly smaller at about 7.9 inches or 20 cm. Despite the size, the adult male has longer tails, and their front claws are sharp like swords.
The red ear sliders get their name because of the wide red stripes or red spots that can be found behind each of its eyes. The pattern on their bodies is mainly a bright green, but it can darken, fade, and stretch as the animal ages and grows.
They look attractive, which is why many people love to keep them as pets. But, their shells are rather flat, looking like discs. The green on their carapaces also has thin yellow blotches and stripes. Plus, their skins around their limbs are mainly green, and they have yellow underbellies, too. On their skin, you will also be able to see patterns of yellow dots and stripes on their faces and legs.
Red Ear Sliders have specific caring requirements that are better recommended for carers with intermediate to advanced experience. As they are aquatic turtles, they require a different living set up that they must prepare for before bringing the animal home.
Eastern Box Turtle
The Eastern Box Turtle belongs to the group of Box Turtles, along with the Three-Toed Box Turtles, the Gulf Coast Box Turtle, and the Ornate Box Turtle. These cute little creatures can grow between 4.5 to 6 inches. The largest one ever recorded reached 7.8 inches.
Of course, the size of these turtles can be influenced by their hibernation schedule, enclosure conditions, temperature, and diet. They grow from their extremely tiny hatchling size that is about a quarter to their full mature size after 5 to 6 years.
They are commercially bred and owned as they are available in many pet stores. But, because of being bred in captivity, they are exposed to numerous medical issues. If you can give them the best care, they can live up to 100 years, but their average lifespan is between 40 to 50 years.
The Eastern Box Turtle got their names because of their ability to withdraw into their shells, completely pulling their entire head, legs, and arms inside of their shells for a boxy appearance. These turtles also have hooked upper jaws and beautiful colorings that range from yellow, red, orange, green, and tan.
Eastern Box Turtles are omnivores, which means that you can feed them with live foods, meat products, and plant matter. They should be fed every other day, as long as they are not hibernating. You can feed them with earthworms, crickets, mealworms, superworms, snails, slugs, and pink mice. You can also supplement their meals with plant matter like red fruits, berries, apples, cantaloupes, apricots, peaches, cauliflower, tomatoes, and broccoli.
The Greek Tortoise can be naturally found in the territories of Southern Europe, North Africa, and Southwest Asia. They enjoy staying in areas of meadows, fields, forests, Mediterranean scrubs, and rocky hillsides. There are various subspecies of Greek Tortoise, which are Tunisian Greek Tortoise, Golden Greek Tortoise, North African Greek Tortoise, Libyan Greek Tortoise, and Ibera Greek Tortoise.
They are identifiable by their coloration that ranges from dark brown to yellow gold and black. Its shell produces different patterns that can show up as borders, rays, flecks, and spots. Scientists found it reminiscent of a Greek mosaic, which is how these turtles got their namesake. There can also be one to three raised spurs, scales, or tubercles. They also have large eyes with large heads and claws that are thick and powerful.
These turtles are readily available in the pet trade, and it is one of the go-to species to keep in captivity. The Golden Greek Tortoise and Ibera Greek Tortoise have been proven to be perfect for captive conditions, and healthy hatchlings can usually be acquired from private breeders, online breeders, pet stores, and pet expos.
The Greek Tortoise usually grows between 5 to 8 inches, with unique individuals reaching 10 to 11 inches. Like other turtles, females are usually bigger than males. These turtles are also known to reach 100 years, which means that they can outlive their owners.
Getting a turtle is a serious life commitment. If you think about it, turtles can accompany you through all the years of your life and can live until after you have left this world. This is why you should decide very carefully if you need to get one.
Remember that turtles are unique animals that require specialized caring, feeding, and the environment. They required lots of maintenance that can be too much for some people, budget, and time included. Before you invest yourself in this type of commitment, think about everything very carefully and strive to give your turtle the best life that it deserves.