Pet Turtles And More A blog about pet turtles and other related pets Sun, 09 Oct 2016 01:26:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Playing with pet turtles Wed, 23 Dec 2015 02:35:03 +0000 Aquatic turtles play

Here’s a few short clips I had made of my wife playing with our pet red ear slider (RES) turtles, Rex and Cinderella.

Rex the male turtle, is on the left and tries to bite the toy first then Cinderella, the female on the right side, gets a go at it. Finally, the camera itself gets a chance to play along as well!!

Playing with pet turtles is fun…

In this here video clip, AG my wife is playing with just our female red eared slider turtle, Cinderella. AG is moving the same small toy (in fact, it’s a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy hand) around and Cinderella is chasing it trying to bite it. A short fun video. Enjoy!

Compared to other ways to play with your pet turtles – some of which can end up being viewed by others as being mean and inhumane by the person doing the so called playing, or for the turtle it can be quite a stressful and thus unhealthy experience for the turt – this way is good, meaningful, natural fun for both turtle and person.

It’s stimulating for every one, fun to watch, engaging for the whole family, hilarious to watch the turtles keep trying to bite thru the glass, great exercise for the turtles, and it’s a great and nice way to see how well they swim!

Something interesting: several years after I first made this post and put up the videos on youtube (5-6 years actually), I was expecting to see more than a few videos of other people playing with their aquatic pet turtles online… but no, not a single video could be found on youtube! I thought it was perfectly natural to play with water turtles. How could I possibly be the only person to have played with my aquatic pet turtles and put a video of it online? Anyway, if I missed your video, share a link in the comments below and I’ll be sure to post it here.

Land tortoises playing

But, I did find out that people like to play with tortoises and they like to play back. Especially with balls. Tortoises really, really like balls.

In this video, watch a mesmerizing clip of how a tortoise and a dog play soccer against each other:

Intense! That turtle nip! Penalty!

Here’s a solo soccer player named Toninu. Apparently, Toninu the tortoise does this every time he sees a soccer ball:

Here’s another video of another dog and tortoise pair, but is seems like the dog is the one playing with the tortoise:

This whole game will change when the tortoise, a sulcata, grows bigger and overwhelms the tiny dog.

Lastly, here’s a slightly larger sulcata, playing solo and not quite being able to have enough of a volleyball:

So, who doesn’t love play time? How do you play with your pet turtles? How do your pet turtles play?

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How fast do pet turtles grow? Tue, 03 Sep 2013 13:17:19 +0000 If you have pet turtles, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve wondered yourself “how fast do pet turtles grow?”

Turtle Growth Rate Factors

The answer, it depends. Here’s why:

  • what kind of turtle is it? Different species grow to different sizes. Some top out at 4″ SCL (straight carapace lenght), others at 12″, others 24″, 36″ or even bigger or smaller.
  • How often are they fed? Naturally, turtles that are fed more often will grow faster.
  • What are they fed? More protein/calcium content in the diet leads to more growth
  • How active are they, what’s their metabolism like? Turtles have their own unique characteristics and personalities. Some turtles, even when comparing within the same species, will be more active than others. Their level of activity is an indicator for where their calories go, towards burned energy or growth.
  • How healthy are they? Obviously a sick turtle will not grow at the same rate as a healthy turtle. Remember that a properly set-up habitat is the first step to take in helping a sick turtle.

While some of these reasons are a bit obvious, wouldn’t you still like to know how fast pet turtles grow? Surely there must be a rough estimation for what an average pet turtle will grow within average/normal circumstances. As a general rule of thumb, turtles will grow the most in their first year of life, then the growth rate slows thereafter. But what does that means exactly?

So let’s look at my pet turtles….

What About my turtles

My pet turtles are red ear slider turtles, Rex and Cinderella. Rex is a male, Cinderella a female. Male RES (red eared sliders) typically max out at a size of 8″ SCL, while females usually grow to 12″ SCL.

I fed them Zoo Med Hatchling Aquatic Turtle Food until they grew to 2″ SCL at the manufacturer recommended rate of twice a day (I think it was). This food is composed of 43% protein. I then gave them Zoo Med Growth Formula for a while and changed their rate to the realistic feeding rate of every other day. This food is 35% protein. At some point I switched them to the Maintenance Formula (25% protein) and fed then twice a week.

Their level of activity was almost the same, although Rex was the more active of the two.

How fast did my pet turtles grow

I overfed them when they were younger (following food manufacturer feeding guidelines) and corrected their feeding when I learned more about how to feed them properly. Although Rex was a bit more active, he grew much faster and also developed more shell pyramiding then Cinderella. After correcting their feeding pattern, Rex’s growth rate slowed until he reached his max and Cinderalla more or less kept her growth rate.

With that said, here’s a dandy little chart of their size and growth rate:
note: Week 1 is when I first measured them, not their hatch size. Measurements are in SCL inches.

  Week     Rex     Cinderella  
  1   1.5   1.3
  3   1.6   1.4
  4   1.8   1.5
  5   1.9   1.5
  8   2.1   1.9
  11   2.3   2.1
  14   2.3   2.1
  16   2.4   2.3
  23   2.7   2.5
  104   5.9   5.9

Visually, here is how fast both my turtles grew, with a handy trend-line to boot. Blue is Rex (male), Red is Cinderalla (female):

my red ear slider turtles growth over time
Note: I stopped measuring them altogether after the 104’th week

How fast did others’ pet turtles grow

Answers on the web were not very clear as to how fast (or slow) turtles grow. Most times the question is asked on a forum or question and answer website (like this), the typical response is along the lines of “be prepared to have your turtle grow to its max size, get the biggest tank you can get”.

Every now and than, you get something more concrete like “they grow to 4” inches in the first year, such as from wiki answers. Some say that it can take 7-8 years for a slider to reach full growth (, but again, there are so many factors.

Pet turtles grow this much

Here’s a photo of an 11″ SCL female red ear slider.

Note: when measuring the Straight Carapace Length of a turtle, just measure the length of the shell only.

Female red ear sliders will grow up to 12″ and males to 8″. Other species have different max sizes. Some musk turtles and other endangered turtles have max sizes of 4″. It is illegal to keep an endangered turtle as a pet. Needless to say, your pet turtle will grow big.

In closing

When getting a turtle as a pet, please keep in mind that they will grow, regardless whether it takes them 7 years or 20. They will need a habitat that is the proper size for them (not small), so please keep that in mind when setting up their habitat.

So, how about your pet turtles. How fast did they grow?

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Father’s Day Turtle Gifts Thu, 30 May 2013 12:17:38 +0000 slider turtles basking for father's day

Ahhh, father’s day. What to get a gift for the day to honor this man in your life (if you are blessed to have one, as they are getting harder to find these days). Not all men want to go all out with saying ‘TURTLES!!’ and most would want to be more sutle, making the ideal gift a bit harder to think of. And so, with that in mind, here are our suggestions for a turtle themed father’s day gifts

(All the images shown below are for products found in, although all the items are easily found in your local mall and retail stores).

Turtle Keychains

These work for me, I think I have two of them. Turtle keychains I believe are perfect father’s day gifts. Small enough, sutle enough, definitely says turtles! Turtle keychains or keyrings come in many colors and flavors, see some more here.

Lego Ninja Turtle Keychain

What better way to touch on three likely soft spots with one gift: ninja turtles, Lego, and turtles! The ninja turtle part is made of real genuine lego pieces that have been fused together so that the individual parts cannot be pulled apart. There are four turtles in total, get the father in your life his favorite turtle or get the complete set. See them here: ninja turtle keychains.

Turtle USB flash drive

Cool USB flash drives always win in my book. Small enough to be very portable, large enough to hold a good amount of files, shell-y enough to look like a turtle. See more turtle flash drives.

Turtle Aprons

For the chef or barbecue master! A big variety feature turtles prominently. Although men wearing aprons while barbecuing or in the kitchen seem to only appear on tv shows or commercials, maybe the father you’d like to gift does use one (or will!). More turtle aprons.

Turtle Documentaries

Fathers love nature documentaries. Turtle fans love turtle nature documentaries even more. This gift idea feels like a sure win. Find more turtle documentaries.

Turtle Skeletons

Not for everyone, but hey, seeing turtle bones in a museum is pretty cool, so why not at home? These feature real turtle bones that have been cleaned and mounted professionally and come in a nice display case. See more turtle skeletons.

Turtle Greeting Cards

Most times the best way to show love and appreciation towards a father is to simply say it. So say it with a turtle-themed greeting card!! Greeting cards work particularly well when given by a child to their father. Find lots of other turtle greeting cards here.

*photo by Victor | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Where do your pet turtles live? Thu, 04 Apr 2013 12:47:23 +0000 Turtles come in many sizes (and grow!) and in many varieties. Thus, they can be housed in a variety of ways standard and creative ways as well. Most commonly, I believe, they are housed and live in an indoor aquarium. But is this assumption correct? Answer the question below and let’s find out!!

In my opinion, most turtle keeping newbies let their shelled pets live in a small fish bowl or a small plastic container (death bowls!!). Most people eventually upgrade to an aquarium and some go for the big stock tanks or the big rubbermaid turtle tubs. Others still, are fortunate enough to have a pond and keep their turtles there.

So how about you? Where are your turtles kept? Or do you keep your turtles in a unique, creative way? Let us know in the comments where your pet turtles live

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Red Ear Slider and Ouchita Map Turtles George & Jorge Thu, 28 Feb 2013 14:19:20 +0000 Reader Rew shares pictures of his pet turtles, George and Jorge, in their tanks.

George is a 3 year old red ear slider turtle:

George was found at a flea market in MS. At the time Rew knew nothing about properly taking care of pet turtles and so George lived on dry land with hermit crabs for months, with only a small bowl of water for him to drink. When he realized he only ate when he was in the water, Rew changed the habitat to a half and half tank (dry area and water) using small plastic containers filled with sand and dirt. This method was horrible, but gave him plenty of swimming space and a nice basking area. George has grown and is now in a 40 gallon pet turtle tank.

Jorge on the other hand is a Ouchita map turtle:
Ouchita map turtle Jorge

Jorge was purchased off the internet. He is smaller than a quarter but has a nice size tank for his size ( not sure on gallon size free tank).

Rew would have loved to put the two pet turtles together but George, the red ear slider, bites at rocks, fingers and reflections — so Jorge would be dead in minutes. Rew also says, “I love these turtles and they have much more personality then I ever figured a turtle would. I would like to know what is a good other aquatic or semi aquatic pet would get along with a turtle.”

In answer to Rew, in my opinion fish are the best companion animals you can put in a turtle tank. They are affordable (since they can/will be eaten) and it is relatively easy to treat health issues with fish. The cool folks over at Austins Turtle Page wrote a very informative article called What Can I Keep With A Turtle?, check it out.

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The changing turtle plastron pattern Fri, 01 Feb 2013 13:32:58 +0000 Most pet turtles (I’d say they’re mostly aquatic turtles) have beautiful plastron shell patterns that change as the turtle get older, bigger, and matures. Continuous shell shedding and growth ensures that the belly part of the shell (the plastron) changes over time.

Here’s a look at the changes of plastron pattern over time with my male pet red ear slider turtle, Rex.


Hatchling Pattern

Here he is a hatchling at around 1″ SCL (straight carapace length):

pet turtle plastron

This picture was taken when he was newly acquired – he’s in the tupperware the little store put him in for me to take home.

Notice the very bold and very clear and distinct patterns. The plastron colors and lines are solid and clearly defined.


The Changing Turtle Plastron

And here he is two months or so later. He’s already grown thanks overfeeding, as advised by the pet turtle food company (don’t follow their feeding schedule – it will overfeed your turtle and cause them to grow too fast and have shell pyramiding).

pet turtle shell

His nice hatchling plastron pattern is beginning to fade and dark circles are starting to form. He’s probably around 2″ SCL at the time.

He also looks very adorable looking like he’s holding on for dear life – but he’s trying to get free from my hand.

Over time, the hatchling pattern stretched and faded as my pet red ear slider grew and grew. Take a look here at photos of my pet turtles shed shells.


Maturing Shell Pattern

After a few good years of growth and shell shedding, here is what his plastron looked like. At this point he’s obviously not a hatchling anymore and can barely fit in my hand.

turtle belly shell

The dark spots continued to grow darker and darker, while the hatchling pattern stretched and continued to fade. Notice the four bottom scutes – you can see the movement and growth (and fading) of the dark spots. The direction of fading/blotching coincides with growth direction of the scutes. You can see from the picture the lines in each of those scutes, each one representing a layer of shell that will eventually be shed.

a little later you can see more of the fading of the hatchling pattern.

pet turtle plastron marking

At some point, all the shell scutes with remainders of the hatchling pattern will completely disappear and all that will be left are the dark splotches. Also, the changing plastron pattern also coincides with a turtles change in skin color from a lighter almost yellow-green color to a darker and darker olive (and even darker) color (skin patterns also fade).


Why do plastron patterns change?

I don’t really know why. Some people, such as those at Turtle Forum speculate that it serves as either a sort of camouflage (but can’t really since some turtle species have non-camo colors) or that they serve as a type of warning to predators (since bright colors in animals usually means “I’m poisonous”, “difficult to eat” or similar).

What is clear is that the patterns change as the turtle grows in size and that the need for a “hatchling pattern” is reduced as the turtle grows.

So, what do you think? Have a thought about why a turtle’s shell plastron pattern changes over time? Share them in the comments.

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Buying Turtles and Reptiles Online Fri, 21 Dec 2012 15:31:51 +0000 turtle store openIf you’re looking to purchase a pet turtle or pet reptile online, it is best to prepare for your new pet reptile ahead of time! Live animals are always sent through the United States Postal Service, and the post office will typically call you when your pet reptile arrives. Online reptiles stores like offer offered reptiles for sale that can be safely shipped via USPS to anywhere in the United States.

After purchasing a reptile online, it is important to make sure that you have the proper setup for them as soon as they arrive, because shipping a live reptile is stressful to the animal. As soon as you take your reptile out of the box, it is important to have a long tank or large plastic tub large enough to house your new pet reptile.

Shipping Pet Turtles

Whenever a pet turtle is shipped, it is essential that the box meets the following requirements:

  1. There must be air holes in the box for the turtle to breathe
  2. Sender must include a heating pad if it is during the winter time (although turtles should never be sent when the weather is freezing!)
  3. The turtle should be placed on a soft surface within the box. This allows for cushioning and helps to ensure that your pet turtle arrives safely!
  4. The box should ALWAYS be marked “This end up” and “Very fragile” to let USPS know to be extremely careful with your package
  5. Make sure to customize your package to the type of turtle you are sending: If you are shipping an aquatic turtle, a wet paper towel must be included in the container to keep the package moist. For larger turtles like the Sulcata tortoise, you may have to use a freight carrier service and the turtle may have to be shipped in a crate

Shipping Live Lizards

Lizards can be shipped relatively easily, placed inside a box with breathing holes and a comfortable surface. It is important that lizards are shipped only when the weather is less than 95 degrees and higher than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A lizard should always be shipped with a heat pack, and the heat pack should be separated from the lizard by packing material to ensure that the heat pack does not come into direct contact with your pet lizard. Lizards can be sent via UPS and FedEx, and if they are purchased from, their journey to your home will be covered by a safe arrival guarantee.

Pet Turtles

A pet turtle can make an excellent pet! If you purchase a pet turtle, make sure to initially provide at least a 20 gallon tank. Please be sure to properly research and prepare for the proper care, habitat, and food for the specific specie of turtle that you are purchasing.

Pet Lizards

Lizards also make excellent pets. A full grown bearded dragon will require at least a 60 gallon tank, while smaller lizards may require less space. All lizards will require proper ventilation as well as temperature control. One end of the enclosure should be set to 100 degrees, while the other end should be set at 80 degrees. Lizards should have access to shallow water as well as shaded areas within their enclosures. If you have a pet lizard, most will survive on a diet of crickets, mealworms, and vegetables, such as romaine lettuce, zuchinni, and carrots. Additionally, most lizards can eat fruit as well, such as bannanas and mango. This will help to ensure they obtain a sufficient amount of vitamins. As with pet turtles, it is important to properly research and prepare for the proper care, habitat, and food for the specific specie of lizard that you are purchasing.

Also, always wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling your pet turtle or lizard.

This article was written and provided by Reptile Pad, which carries used to carry a variety of pet turtles and bearded dragons for sale.

*photo by lobstar28 | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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How to keep a turtle tank clean Mon, 08 Oct 2012 06:51:50 +0000 Keeping aquatic turtles and the aquariums they are housed in clean-looking and stink smell free is easier than most people think.

There are three basic principles to keep in mind when maintaining a turtle tank and keeping it clean. They are water volume, filtration, and maintenance.

Water Volume: Aquatic turtles such as sliders and painteds should have as much swimming water as possible. The basic rule of thumb is to have 10 gallons of water for every inch of turtle shell. Following this general rule, this means that a 1″ hatchling should be in at least 10 gallons of water and a 4″ turtle should be in at least 40 gallons of water.

This estimate accounts for the obvious enjoyment of more water and space to swim in for the pet turtle, but it also compensates for the additional waste that a larger turtle produces. The larger the turtle, the larger it’s poop, the more it sheds (skin and shells, which is just more waste), and since it eats more food too, then it will also tend to leave more uneaten food particles – all, if left in an aquarium will degrade the quality and cleanliness of the tank water. So, more water means more with which to dilute waste and the resulting chemicals (ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates) from the nitrogen cycle.

More water also means less required water changes (translation: more time between water changes) compared to having less water. Lastly, dirt looks smaller and thus less obvious in a larger tank than in a smaller one. So more the more water, the better.

Filtration: Adequate and proper filtration is absolutely mandatory to maintain a clean turtle tank.

Filter Media. Mechanical/physical and biological filter media are absolute essentials. Mechanical filtration takes care of cleaning the turtle tank water of visible dirt: skin, food, etc… Obvious benefits. Chemical filter media on the other hand removes what is unseen, mostly ammonia, nitrates, & nitrites chemicals in the water – which also contribute to smell. So more benefits.

Chemical filtration, usually in the form of carbon/charcoal isn’t necessary for a turtle tank. Unless there is real wood in the tank, such as driftwood or corkbark, then having chemical filtration will be beneficial as it will remove tanins (the brown color that leaches from wood) from the tank water.

Filter strength. A strong filter is needed. Circulation rate/flow rate is what you need to keep in mind. The minimum needed for a turtle tank is for flow rate (in GPH – gallons per hour) to be double the amount of water you have in your aquarium. So, a 100 gallon tank would need filters that can do at least 200 GPH. This means that all the water in the turtle tank passes through the filter at least twice an hour (circulation). Circulation rates of 3 times an hour is even better than just twice, with this example. More is better.

Maintenance. Things get dirty and dirt builds up. A turtle tank should be cleaned regularly. Scrubbing the interior glass and vacuuming/siphoning dirt off the aquarium floor should be done at least once a month. Filters should be thoroughly cleaned every couple of months or whenever it gets clogged enough that flow rate is adversely affected.

Following the above mentioned principles keeps a turtle tank clean. From my experience with a half-filled tank with about 75-85 gallons of water, I did water changes and cleaned the tank once a month and cleaned my filters maybe twice a year. Not a lot of work for a nice clean looking turtle tank.

How about you, how do you keep your turtle aquarium clean?

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Peach the RES and Myrtle & Snappy, yellow bellied sliders Tue, 11 Oct 2011 03:12:49 +0000 Because it’s been a while since we’ve featured submitted pet turtle pictures, here’s two:

Reader Juan shares with us a picture of his hatchling pet red ear slider turtle, Peach. Juan says he misses her a lot…
red ear slider from Juan
That is one cute RES hatchling! What happened to Peach?

Leo shares a picture of his two happy -looking yellow belly sliders, Myrtle and Snappy. Here, you can see them enjoying and relaxing in their “turtle spa”:
pet yellow belly sliders from leo
Leo, from the little we can see, your tank looks impressive!! Hope you can share more pictures of it, particularly of the background and the use of river rocks in the foreground. And your turtles look handsome too!

Juan and Leo, thank you very much for taking the time to share your photos!

To share and have your pet turtle pictures featured here, simply share your pet turtle pictures.

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What’s your favorite brand of pet turtle food? Mon, 26 Sep 2011 18:42:01 +0000 Since most pet turtles do not regularly eat home-prepared food (from our turtle poll results – only 22% get home prepared food at least weekly), it can be safely stated that most pet turtles get commercial pet food purchased from a store or online.

When it comes to buying food though, there are so many brands and choices out there. There are brandnames such as: Exo Terra, Fluker’s, Hikari, TetraFauna ReptoMin, Zilla, and Zoo Med – which are just a few of the biggest, most well-known brands. lists and sells around 30 brands!! (see them here)

Here are some factors as to why some brands might be a favorite:

  • cheap
  • best nutritional value
  • easily available – from LFS or supermarket
  • easy to find online
  • mixture of ingredients
  • and etc…

So, just what is your favorite brand of pet turtle food?
Answer our poll:

Did I miss your favorite brand of turtle food? Have any thoughts to share? Let us know in the comments.

Based on 76 answers at the time of this writing, the following are the survey results for the question “What is your favorite brand of pet turtle food?” This is a review of the answers provided to this pet turtle care related question.

From all (100% of) voters, the following represents which percentage have the following pet turtle food brands as their favorite:

  • TetraFauna ReptoMin – 27.63%
  • Zoo Med – 27.63%
  • Wardley – 9.21%
  • Mazuri – 6.58%
  • Exo Terra – 5.26%
  • Nutrafin Max – 5.26%
  • Fluker’s – 2.63%
  • PETCO – 2.63%
  • Hikari – 2.63%
  • T-Rex – 2.63%
  • Healthy Herp – 1.32%
  • JurassiDiet – 1.32%
  • Nature Zone – 1.32%
  • Ocean Star – 1.32%
  • Pretty Bird – 1.32%
  • Rep-Cal – 1.32%

We have a tie!! Reptomin and Zoo Med. I have to say, am not really surprised with the results. These two brands are among the biggest in turtle food, with such huge distribution.

And…well, ever seen this video of a turtle that loooves Reptomin? See pet turtles love reptomin.

The other brands which didn’t get any votes, as well as those having the smallest percentage of votes – are really small, almost unknown brands (compared to the big brands).

Personally, I find that most commercially available pet turtle food have way too much protein (and the manufacturers suggest feeding waaaay more food than is necessary), which I blame for all the sad looking captive pyramid-shelled turtles. I like the Zoo Med line of turtle food, since they have 3 different formulas. In particular, I like the Maintenance Formula best.

How about you? What’s your favorite brand of pet turtle food?

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