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The Best Pet Turtles For 2022: 6 Options

Best Pet Turtle

Different people have different expectations when it comes to defining the best pet turtle. Some want a turtle that lives long, while others want a turtle that won’t shy away from attention. Yet still, others prefer a colorful or unique looking turtle. Regardless of what you look for, turtles are among the most popular pets.

While there are 100s of different turtle species in the world, not all of them make good pets. Some grow way too big for domestication, while others may be illegal to own. You need to do your research before acquiring a turtle.

It is also important to know that most turtles are aquatic and as such require an aquatic set up. When housed outdoors, they require a small pond.

When housed indoors, they require an aquarium with a filtration system and submersible pumps. Additionally, a third of the water needs to be changed regularly. This is absolutely important if the water is to be clean and habitable.

Here is a list of the best pet turtles out there. These turtles are trouble-free, easy to care for and gorgeous.

1. Pond Slider (Red-Eared Slider / Cumberland Slider)

Red Eared Slider
Read Eared Slider

Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Trachemys Scripta elegans/ Trachemys Scripta troostii
  • Common Names: Red-eared terrapin, red-eared slider turtle, red-eared turtle, slider turtle, and water slider turtle
  • Adult Size: 6 to 12 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 to 40 years
  • Average Price Range: $5 to $20

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size:  40 gallon tank min
  • Food: Krill, shrimp, fish, snails, insect / Commercial turtle food
  • UVB Lighting: Needed
  • Ambient Temperature: 75 to 80 F
  • Water Temperature: 75 to 84 F
  • Basking Spot Temperature: 90 F

Both the Cumberland slider and the red-eared slider belong to the same species – pond sliders (Trachemys scripta). Their care requirements are the same, and they look very similar.

As with most turtles, they are long-lived. They grow to between 6 inches and a foot in size. This pond slider can live well into their 60s. With good care, you should expect a pond slider to live to about 40 years. They eat seafood such as shrimp, insects and commercial turtle food.

They are easy to find, easy to acquire, and relatively simple to care for. Additionally, they make very cute pets and do not bite or scratch when touched. For a turtle, they don’t mind being handled much. They are definitely one of the most popular pet turtle species in the world.

They are, however, not the easiest pets to keep and will die if not cared for properly. Because they are super easy to find and are very affordable, many people who aren’t really into reptiles end up acquiring one.

These include kids who beg their parents into getting them one, or people who simply want a pet around the home. Since they live so long, many of such people grow tired of these adorable turtles after some years (it could be after a couple of years or after 10 years) and release them into the wild which is wrong.

For more check out the Red Eared Slider Care Guide

2. Eastern Box Turtle

Male eastern box turtle
Eastern Box Turtle

Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina carolina
  • Common Names: Eastern box turtle
  • Adult Size: 4.33 to 7 inches
  • Lifespan: 40 to 100 years
  • Average Price Range: $150 to $400

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Outdoor enclosure size: 4 x 4 ft.
  • Food: Live insects and vegetables
  • UVB Lighting: Needed
  • Temperature Range: 75 to 80 F
  • Basking Spot Temperature: 95 F

The eastern box turtle may just be the most popular box turtle kept as pets. They are called eastern box turtles as they are box turtles endemic to Eastern United States.

Unlike the other turtles in this article, they are not aquatic, and as such need a terrarium, and not an aquarium. You can also house them outdoors; just make sure they cannot escape.

They are quite small and grow to be about 6 inches as adults. They accept whatever food you feed them and as such, you need to be careful about what you give them.

It’s best to feed them live insects, snails, and grubs. In addition to this, feed them vegetables such as romaine lettuce, dandelions, collard greens, and many other vegetables. In all, they are easy to feed and easy to bond with especially during feeding time. All of which makes them excellent pets.

Remember they live long. They have been known to live up to 100 years old. You should expect them to live to be at least 40 years. This long term commitment isn’t for everyone. Apart from their longevity, they are excellent land turtles. If you want a land turtle/tortoise, I recommend the eastern box turtle.

For more check out the Eastern Box Turtle Care Guide

3. Painted Turtle

Painted Turtle
Painted Turtle

Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Beginners
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Chrysemys picta
  • Common Names: Painted turtle, skilpot
  • Adult Size: 6 to 8 inches
  • Lifespan: 25 to 30 years
  • Average Price Range: $29 to $80

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 15 to 20-gallon tank
  • Food: Commercial turtle food/insects and vegetables
  • UVB Lighting: Needed
  • Temperature Range: 75 to 85 F
  • Water temperature: 75 F
  • Basking Spot Temperature: 95 F

The painted turtle has four subspecies namely the eastern painted turtle, midland painted turtle, southern painted turtle, and western painted turtle.

The subspecies are named after where they are found geographically. These gorgeous reptiles are great as beginners’ pets and can live to be more than 55 (although they generally live to be about 25 to 30 years). As you can see, they require commitment.

They are easy to find and acquire, fun to keep and nice to look at. There are very few turtle enthusiasts who won’t be impressed by this turtle. Feeding them is stress-free as they accept commercially made turtle food.

This is sure to give them all the nutrients they need including vitamin D3. They grow to be just 6 to 8 inches in length, which makes them manageable pets.

There is nothing bad to be said about this turtle. As with all turtles, wash your hands before and after touching or handling them.

For more check out the Painted Turtle Care Guide

4. False Map Turtle

False Map Turtle
False Map Turtle

Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Emydidae
  • Scientific Name: Graptemys pseudogeographica pseudogeographica
  • Common Names: False map turtle
  • Adult Size: 4 to 10 inches
  • Lifespan: 30 to 50 years
  • Average Price Range: $5 to $50

 Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 25 gallons
  • Food: Commercial aquatic turtle food/insects and vegetables
  • UVB Lighting: Needed
  • Water temperature: 75 F
  • Ambient temperature Range: 80 to 85 F
  • Basking Spot Temperature: 85 to 90 F

This is another north American aquatic turtles. G. p. pseudogeographica is the nominal false map turtle subspecies. The other false map turtle subspecies include the Mississippi map turtle (G. p. kohnii). They are called map turtles because of the lines that run down their bodies and shells which resemble contour lines.

These turtles are simply gorgeous. The contour lines, and raised saw-like back set them apart from other turtles. If you’re looking for display pet turtles, you can’t go wrong with these. In terms of care, there couldn’t be an easier turtle to care for.

They are relatively small even for a small turtle. The females are much bigger than the males though. While the male does well in a 20 to 25-gallon aquarium, a large female needs a 75-gallon tank.

They eat insects and veggies as well as commercial turtle food. Apart from the small setback of having to acquire a large aquarium for the potential female, they are hardy turtles and super easy to care for.

While they may not be as long-lived as other turtles, expect them to live to be 33 years. Make sure you are ready to care for a turtle before getting one. Additionally, if you must abandon one ensure you find a suitable home for it.

For more check out the False Map Turtle Care Guide

5. African Aquatic Sideneck Turtle

African Sideneck Turtle

Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Pelomedusidae
  • Scientific Name: Pelusios castaneus
  • Common Names: African mud turtle, African sideneck turtle, African aquatic sideneck turtle
  • Adult Size: 7 to 11 inches
  • Lifespan: 25 to 50 years
  • Average Price Range: $30 to $50

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size:  40 gallons
  • Food: Fish, chicken, snails, and greens/ commercial turtle food
  • UVB Lighting: Needed
  • Temperature Range: 80 – 85 F
  • Water temperature: 75 F
  • Basking Spot Temperature: 95 F

The African sideneck turtle is such a unique looking pet. This sets it aside from other common pet turtles that normally originate in North America.

Their shell has the appearance of that of a land turtle. Also, they have cute little smiling faces. They grow to between 7 and 12 inches and usually live for a few decades (30 years). Although they aren’t that big, they require a large tank to be comfortable.

Their diet is quite different from other turtles. While it isn’t advisable to feed North American turtles meat, the African sideneck turtle is an exception as it eats meat. It eats cooked chicken, beef heart and fish.

Also, feed them greens such as collard greens and romaine lettuce. As an adult, the African sideneck turtle prefers to eat a lot of leafy green vegetables. Another excellent way to feed it is by using commercial turtle food.

The positives of this marvelous turtle are its cute smiling face and its unique appearance. Additionally, they are relatively easy to care for. Lastly, they don’t hibernate as American turtles do. They are active all year round.

On the other hand, they are less common and more difficult to find than American turtles.

In all, the African sideneck turtle is one of the best pet turtles you can keep. owing to their easy care, food preferences, and year-long active lifestyle. 

For more check out the African Sideneck Care Guide

6. Razor-Backed Musk Turtles

Razorback Musk Turtle
Razorback Musk Turtle

Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Beginners
  • Family: Kinosternidae
  • Scientific Name: Sternotherus carinatus
  • Common Names: razor -backed musk turtle
  • Adult Size: 6 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Average Price Range: $35 to $100

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Food: Crustaceans, fish, bloodworm, and insects/ commercial aquatic turtle diet
  • UVB Lighting: Needed
  • Water temperature: 73 to 78 F
  • Temperature Range: 75 to 85 F
  • Basking temperature: 90 F

Musk turtles are small turtles. Even the razor-backed musk turtle, which is the biggest, grows to be just 6 inches in length. Also, unlike other turtles mentioned in this article, musk turtles are carnivorous.

They eat ails, fish, bloodworms, mealworms, and many other foods. However, they can be fed aquatic turtle diets such as Mazuri Aquatic Turtle Diet. They grow to be 20 years, on average. For a turtle, this is quite a moderate lifespan.

They don’t require large aquariums although, a large aquarium provides more comfort and ensures the turtle is least stressed. I recommend a tank which is about 30 gallons large. Feeding them is also really simple as they accept commercially made aquatic turtle diet. Conventional turtle food and leafy greens in their diets would help them lead a long, healthy life.

You can supplement this diet with mealworms, bloodworms, crickets, snails, fish and many more. They are also easy to find. You can find them online from reputable breeders and even at pet stores. They also live relatively peacefully alongside other pet turtles in the same tank.

The only negative when it comes to razor-back musk turtles is their shyness. These cautious turtles will take some time to get used to you and their environment. Make sure that you give these animals access to food, clean water, and alone time to get the best behavior out of them. They are more of display pets and do not appreciate being held.

This is especially important to keep in mind if you have kids at home who’d want to pick them up. Make sure that you have a space for these turtles where they can be left alone without any disturbances. 

If you have kids in the house, these animals might not be the best fit for you. Ensure that your children know that these turtles need their space and shouldn’t be held to avoid any accidents or injuries. 

Tips For Turtle Care

Once you get your turtle home, there’ll be some things you should consider to make sure that you get the best experience out of your pet. While not all turtles are the same and they all require different systems, there are some common tips that you can keep in mind to care for your turtle. 

1.) Depending upon the size of the turtle, always set up a large enough tank so that they can grow to their full size comfortably. While a small tank can be okay for the first few years of their life, you need to get a bigger tank when the turtles start growing bigger. 

2.) Ensure that the temperature of the room and the tank are just right to make sure your turtle is comfortable. Some turtles might go into hibernation or have health issues if the temperature is too low. 

3.) Keep their hibernation in mind. All turtles have different hibernation cycles, and they need to be in the right temperature range to ensure they get the best out of it. 

4.) Make sure your turtle’s tank and water are cleaned regularly. If you have a tank that has a filtration system, periodically check up on it to keep it functioning properly. 

5.) Don’t play too much with your turtles, as they’re prone to getting stressed. While pets, like dogs and cats, might enjoy being held, turtles are more of display animals. If you hold them too often or try to play with them all the time, they might start showing symptoms of stress or health issues. 

For more check out the Razorback Musk Turtle Care Guide


When you acquire the best pet turtle, care is easy. Additionally, turtles are fun to watch and are companions for life. While their longevity is a positive to many reptile enthusiasts, it can also be a negative.

When it comes to dogs and cats, 10 years means old age. Not for turtles, a 10-year old turtle is still young, as most can and will easily live to be 30 years or more.

Some like the eastern box turtle can even grow to be 100 years. As such, if you plan on keeping a turtle, be prepared for the commitment. If you have any comments on what you think is the best pet turtle, we would love to know. Kindly leave a comment below.

We hope that this article about the best pet turtles has helped you make an informed decision about which one of these pets would make a great addition to your home. If you’re interested in reptiles and want to find more information about these animals, feel free to check out our other articles, as well!

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Sandi Butler

Sunday 4th of July 2021

I have always wanted a turtle and would love to get one now. I live in FL. It needs to be in a tank on my porch/lanai as there are too many animals outside that would be dangerous. Can you please tell me if there are any that could handle the heat and humidity?

Thanks, Sandi


Sunday 17th of January 2021

Now I'm even more confused than when i started 😒

Brock Yates

Sunday 17th of January 2021

How so? Email us at [email protected] so we can try to help you


Tuesday 1st of December 2020

10-20 gallons is absolutely inappropriate for a red-eared slider, at the minimum they need at least a 40 gallon tank!! they're extremely messy and need plenty of room to swim

Ryan Lewis

Tuesday 4th of January 2022

@Emma, A RES needs at least 10 gallons per inch of shell. So if you have an 8" RES you need a 80 gallon tank. Its best to start with the size of tank they will grow into. I have a 10" RES and have him in a 90 gallon take and he really could use the extra 10 gallons.

Jill Snodgrass

Thursday 12th of November 2020

I live in Tulsa Ok. I have recently rescued a box turtle. We have a vet appt tomorrow and will determine if the little girl can be released and remain healthy or if it needs to remain with me. I love her and have become quite attached and intrigued with this turtle thing. If she cannot be released, I want a mate for her. I need a turtle rescue in Oklahoma that I could adopt from.

Ellen Kreamer

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

My grand daughter wants a turtle, her Dad said it has to be a land turtle, I am worried about salmonella. We live in Omaha Nebraska where do I get one?

Ellen Kreamer

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

@Ellen Kreamer,