Pet Turtles- Have You Ever Had One?

Updated on February 18, 2011
N.G. asks from Arlington, TX
16 answers

My four-year-old daughter has been obsessed (OBSESSED!) with turtles since she was only months old. Some of my friends joke and say "Maybe she was a turtle in a past life!" She freaks out every time she sees one. When we go to Petsmart to get dog food for our dogs, she will stand and stare at/talk to the pet turtles the whole time. She's now old enough to realize that turtles CAN be pets, so she has been asking me to get her one.

Over the years I've grown, because of her obsession, to be quite fond of the turtles myself. My heart goes out to those sea turtles, they have such hard lives! But I digress... I've done some research on turtles as pets. I know that there are 'wet' turtles and 'dry' turtles and that some can carry salmonella on their skin. Being realistic, my daughter is four, I know who would be taking care of the turtle, so please, no lectures on whether my daughter is mature enough to have a pet turtle. All of my pets (dogs and guinea pig) are VERY well taken care of.

Do you or have you had a pet turtle? Are they good pets? What kinds of things go into their care? Are they safe pets for a four year old?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers


answers from Dallas on

I have three red earred slidders..... they are so much fun... I have them in a 55 gallon tank and it super peaceful to watch them swin around through the plants.... the cleaning part is a PAIN, but when I am done it is well worth it. I have had them since they were the size of quarters and now they are a little bigger than a softball.... One of them will eat from my hand... but all of them follow me around in their tanks when they start to get hungry.. pretty much same time of the day.. overall they are pretty easy to take care of..

More Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

We have a wet turtle - I'm not a fan. It sits in a tank of water, occassionally swims or climbs on the rock, but not too often. the most movement we get out of it is when we clean the tank - which is all too often and gross.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

They can indeed carry salmonella and your daughter's young enough that I'd say no until she's ready to care for the turtle by herself and wash her own hands every time she handles it. Also, her friends will want to play with the turtle when they visit -- ask yourself if you're prepared to let them or not, if you are willing to oversee the handwashing afterward so no kid gets sick etc. We had a turtle when I was a kid, and as someone posted, dull pet -- and if she loses interest in it you are stuck with a living creature you must care for despite her lack of interest.

Now, that said...Is there a natural history museum near you?? Take her to see their reptile section; if you're lucky the museum will have live ones to observe. The museum or other local nature places or even recreation centers may do workshops or kids' events with animals, or short classes on animals for kids. Foster that interest in animals any way you can and you may have a wildlife biologist or park ranger one day!....Just...don't bring home the outdoors yet....

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I fostered a tortoise... it was harder to care for than I thought and because neither I nor the original owner did much research into it or asked a vet how to care for it - I accidentally killed it.

I'd talk to the vet you have for your dog... ask if there are any things you should know, what turtles or tortoises are good for very beginner enthusiasts, and which are more simplistic to care for and what they eat!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Turtles were all the rage when I was in 2nd grade.
The poor things died left and right. Most reptiles carry salmonella. You have to be washing your hands all the time. Also, reptiles are not touchy pettable pets. Generally they do better when not handled a lot.
If you want a pet turtle, do all the research on care and maintenance for the variety of turtles that are available as pets. Some can live a very long time with the proper care.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I had a wet turtle once and I didnt like it at all. He would very rarely move and when I tried to take him out to play with him, he would always hide in his shell. I fed him properly and everything but he still wound up dying within a year :( Never got another turtle again.. Note- it is actually illegal to have a pet turtle in the state of NJ. lol.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I had several box turtles growing up and loved them! They were very easy to take care of, didn't smell, and no one ever got sick from them. I had each of them for several years. They lived in a tank with a bowl of water for drinking and ate frozen strawberries and turtle food that we got at the pet store. I also had a red-eared slider when I was in college. It was much messier and I had to clean the tank more often because it lived in water much of the time. I liked the box turtles more.



answers from Charlotte on

Be very careful of salmonella. You have to be vigilant of her washing her hands everytime she touches it or the aquarium.

Once you've had a child with salmonella, like I have, you'll never want a reptile in your house ever again, even if, like me, you have no idea where the salmonella even came from...

btw, we loved our guinea pigs!! :)




answers from Philadelphia on

We had red eared sliders when I was a kid. Great first pet. We had a small Turtle tank and fed him frozen worms and sometimes lettuce.


answers from Seattle on

The people I used to nanny for had a turtle. Well, really the boy did. He was 14 and was in charge of his pet. It was a "wet" turtle.
Turtles are kind of boring. They don't do anything, you can't cuddle with them, they don't do any tricks. Lots of cleaning the tank. I remember that poor boy seemed to ALWAYS be cleaning the tank. I think once every week or two. And it was a big deal to take everything out, put it in the bathtub, clean it out and clean off all the things that were in the tank. Also, somehow the turtle got out. Boy, that was fun looking all over the house for this turtle! lol They found him a couple days later in the laundry.
So, my humble opinion.....boring pet. Your four year old may love them at the pet store, but she may not be all that excited about them when they are living with you.
Good luck with whatever you decide.



answers from New York on

Turtles are known to carry salmonella which is why they must be over 4 inches long beofre you an legally purchase one - smaller turtles are handled more often by kids and sometimes put them in their mouths or don't wash properly. If you handle it safely by always washing hands when in contact, then you will be fine.

They only need a tank with a rock that is just above the water line so they can hang out on it. The water needs to be heated a little.

They are easy to take care of. I had one in my teens.


answers from Los Angeles on

I had a few growing up. Where I lived you would just find them wondering around.
I think they are great pets. She might have the most fun holding a piece of lettuce for it to eat or a carrot or something. I know I did.
I think 4 is a good age for these kinds of pets because you can begin to teach her how to properly care for them and she can understand. Have her help you/watch you when you have to clean the aquarium (or whatever you choose to keep it in) and she will begin to get it.
I used to pet mine all the time and it loved it. Never hid in it's (im saying it because i have no clue if it was a boy or girl lol) shell. I never got sick from it either.
Ultimately it's your choice, I loved my turtle. =)



answers from Detroit on

Yes, I had two growing up, both were wild and caught. One was a snapper turtle and the other a painter turtle. You need to keep their tank clean and heated properly. You will also need to get the supplies for in the tank and keep that clean. IE gravel, a hide, food, heat source, thermometer, food dish. Mine also smelled real bad. I was older than four when I had my turtles, and my mom and dad had to help me. So unless your prepared to care for it yourself, maybe hold off a bit, till she is a little older and able to help.


answers from Boca Raton on

Be careful with turtles. They carry a lot of salmonella~ We have a pet iguana and ALWAYS have my son wash his hands after holding him (iguanas carry it in there poo).. My neighbor/friend is a teacher and when it's spring break she always brings home her classroom turtles.. She is very strict about my 4 year old son washing his hands "as soon" as he's done holding the turtles... I love all animals but I would talk more to a "reptile" store on there opinion... Good luck!



answers from Denver on

I grew up with box turtles in our home every summer. But recently we bought turtles for our pond and our daughter wanted to keep one of the little ones as a pet. We had to get a UV light for the turtle because if they aren't outside and get sufficient sunlight, they need the UV light to make Vitamin D or they will die. We kept "Jessie" for several months and finally turned him/her loose at the pond with everyone else. Our daughter was 11 at the time and got tired of keeping the cage clean, and so made the choice on her own.



answers from Honolulu on

They can live a LONG time.
50 years or longer.

So who will care for it? After 20, 30, years????

Some turtles grow very large.

Turtles or Tortoises... have Salmonella. Thus, handling them, you can get sick.

Yes they are cute.
It depends what type or what species. Because of their size and if you want a water turtle or land tortoise.

I have and am still debating, getting a Tortoise.
Land type.

They are good pets. My Daughter's classroom, had Land Turtles.
My Husband had one growing up. Mind you, this was the type of land Tortoise that grows as BIG as the kind you see at Zoos. VERY big.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions