There are a lot of turtles that stay small, but not every one of them makes great pets. Looking for a pet turtle is hard as it is. This article will provide a list of 15 turtles that stay small throughout their life. We will also talk about their unique traits to help you choose the best companion for you.
Some of the popular small turtles include red-eared sliders, diamondback terrapin, box turtles, mud turtles, and map turtles. These turtles are adorable, compact, and easy to care for. All the turtles listed above, except box turtles, require a tank and have specific care requirements. You should know about their specific traits before making the final decision.
|Turtle Species||Size||Cost Range||Unique Feature|
|Eastern Box Turtle||4-6 inches||$50-$150||Colorful Shell|
|African Sideneck Turtle||4-5 inches||$30-$80||Unique Neck Pattern|
|Mud Turtle||3-5 inches||$20-$50||Hardy & Resilient|
|Reeve’s Turtle||4-6 inches||$80-$150||Smiling Expression|
|Painted Turtle||4-7 inches||$30-$60||Vibrant Shell Color|
|Musk Turtle||3-5 inches||$40-$80||Strong Odor Defense|
|Razorback Musk Turtle||3-5 inches||$60-$100||Spiky Back|
|Map Turtle||3-5 inches||$50-$100||Intricate Shell Map|
|Diamondback Turtle||4-6 inches||$100-$200||Diamond-Shaped Mark|
|Chinese Pond Turtle||4-6 inches||$80-$150||Ornate Shell Patterns|
|Spotted Turtle||3-4 inches||$80-$120||Distinctive Spots|
|Bog Turtle||3-4 inches||$300-$500||Rare & Protected|
|Indonesian Box Turtle||4-5 inches||$200-$300||Hinged Shell|
|Stinkpot Turtle||4-5 inches||$50-$100||Foul-Smelling Secret|
|Indian Tent Turtle||3-4 inches||$60-$100||Elongated Neck|
12 Turtles That Stay Small Throughout Their Life
Choosing the right turtle can become a big hassle; there are several factors that you must consider before choosing an ideal pet. You should think about their size, care requirements, and character traits to choose the perfect turtle companion. The best part of housing a small turtle is that it does not matter if you are a trained reptile enthusiast or a beginner; you will be able to take care of these pets with ease. Here is a list of the top 12 turtles that stay small throughout their life.
#1 Eastern Box Turtle
The easter box turtle is a hard companion to have throughout your life. These turtles can grow up to 4-6 inches in shell length. One of the unique features that the eastern box turtle offers is its colorful shell. The color of the shell depends on the genes and varies from one turtle to another. Generally, the shell is covered with vibrant hues, which makes it famous in the reptile community.
They also have a unique character trait of retracting their neck, tail, head, and legs to their shell. This is generally seen if the eastern box turtle feels threatened or scared. Hiding in their shell comes in handy and protects the cute and small creature from various predators.
The eastern box turtle can live up to 50 years or more, thus making long-lasting companions. These turtles are also quite adaptable and can survive in various environments. The average cost of buying an eastern box turtle can range between $50-$100, depending on factors such as age, size, health, and appearance.
- Adaptable species capable of living in a variety of environments.
- Long lifespan, with some turtles living up to 50 years.
- Characterized by their ability to retract their head, legs, and tail into their shell for protection.
#2 African Sideneck Turtle
The African sideneck turtle is another species of small turtle to consider as a pet. An average African turtle can measure around 4-5 inches in length. Although, the size of your pet can depend on various factors such as their age, diet, and environmental conditions. It is important to provide a healthy and safe environment to prevent them from falling ill and developing a medical condition.
The African sideneck turtle is known for its distinct and intricate patterns on its neck. These patterns come in various vibrant colors and depend on the genetics of every individual turtle. The African sideneck turtle also has a special ability to tuck or retract its neck back to its shell. This is generally done as a defense mechanism when the creature feels threatened or under stress.
These turtles are also great at swimming and are equipped with webbed feet and streamlined shells to help navigate gracefully underwater. The African sideneck turtle is also ectothermic and thus requires a basking spot to regulate the heat throughout their body. Thermoregulation allows these creatures to absorb Vitamin D3, which helps metabolize calcium in their body.
The African sideneck turtles are easy to handle and have specific care requirements. These turtles require a habitat that includes both land and water to ensure their overall well-being. An average African sideneck turtle can cost around $30-$80, depending on their age, size, health, and morph.
- Known for their sideways neck, which can retract into their shell for defense.
- Excellent swimmers with webbed feet and streamlined bodies.
- Require access to both land and water in their habitat to thrive.
#3 Mud Turtle
The mud turtle is a small species of turtle that can grow up to 3-5 inches in length. These turtles get their name because of their uniquely colored shells, which are dark brown or black. The mud turtle has a docile temperament and is quickly adaptable to various water conditions, thus making them an excellent choice for beginner turtle enthusiasts.
The mud turtles are omnivorous and feed on a varied diet including plant and animal matter. Their diet in captivity includes aquatic plants, small insects, fish, and occasional fruits. You can also feed them commercial turtle pellets as supplements, but it should be part of their primary diet. The mud turtles are resilient and also budget-friendly as they cost around$20-$50.
- Resilient species that can tolerate varying water conditions.
- Recognized for their unique dark brown or black shells.
- Omnivorous diet, consisting of both aquatic plants and small insects.
#4 Reeve’s Turtle
The Reeve’s turtle is another great candidate when looking for small turtle species. These turtles can grow up to 4-6 inches in shell length and are relatively small and compact compared to other turtle species. They are known for their unique markings on the face that resembles a smile. Making these turtles adorable and popular among many reptile enthusiasts.
The Reeve’s turtle is omnivorous and feeds on a varied diet consisting of aquatic plants, small fish, insects, and fruits. These turtles have a curious and energetic demeanor and spend most of their day swimming in water. If you are looking for an energetic and engaging pet turtle, then Reeve’s Turtle is the best candidate for you. These turtles can cost around $80-$150, spending on their age, size, and morph.
- Known for their unique facial markings that resemble a smile.
- Energetic swimmers, requiring ample swimming space.
- Prefer a varied diet, including small insects, fish, and aquatic plants.
#5 Painted Turtle
Painted turtles are an average-sized species of turtles that can grow up to 5-7 inches in length. These turtles are known for their vibrant shell colors and intricate patterns. These turtles come in a wide range of hues, including red, orange, olive, and yellow. Painted turtles are diurnal and spend most of their day swimming and hunting for food. These turtles are omnivorous and feed on a varied diet of plant and animal matter.
The painted turtle also exhibits fascinating basking behavior. If you are thinking of buying a painted turtle, ensure there are enough basking and hiding spots inside the tank. Painted turtles rely on basking temperature for thermoregulation. Equip the tank with the right lighting and temperature conditions to provide them with a comfortable place to live in. You should also place decorations such as logs, rocks, and barks for your pet to rest comfortably. An average painted turtle can cost around $30-$60 depending on its health, appearance, and genes.
- Renowned for their striking and colorful shells, featuring vibrant patterns.
- Fascinating basking behavior, often seen resting on logs.
- Omnivorous creatures, consume both plants and small animals.
#6 Musk Turtle
Musk turtles are a species of small turtles, growing up to 3-5 inches in length. These turtles are known for their musky odor that they can release in case they feel threatened or scared. Musk turtles have a hinged plastron that allows the turtle to close themselves fully and thus protecting them from predators. Musk turtles are carnivorous and feed on a varied diet including small fish, insects, and crustaceans.
These turtles are also easy to handle and have minimum care requirements, making them an ideal pet choice for beginner reptile owners. Musk turtles have a unique defense mechanism and unique characteristics, making them a popular choice among reptile enthusiasts. The average cost of a musk turtle is around $40-$80, depending on its age, size, and health.
- Produce a musky odor when threatened or disturbed.
- Possess a hinged plastron (that allows them to close themselves fully for protection.
- Carnivorous, feeding on small insects, fish, and crustaceans.
#7 Razorback Musk Turtle
The razorback musk turtle is a small turtle measuring 3-5 inches in shell length. These turtles get their name from a unique attribute that they possess. Razorback musk turtles have a raised back which has a ridge-like spine running across the shell. These turtles are also equipped with sharp claws, that they use to hunt and climb trees.
Razorback musk turtles are omnivorous and feed on a varied diet consisting of aquatic plants, insects, and mollusks. You should also have decorations such as logs and branches to provide the turtle with climbing opportunities. These turtles are very active and love to engage with their owners. An average razorback musk turtle can cost around $60-$100, depending on the store you buy them from.
- Distinctive features such as ridge-like spine running along their shells.
- Skilled climbers, use their sharp claws to climb surfaces.
- An omnivorous diet consisting of small insects and plants.
#8 Map Turtle
Map turtles are another popular choice when searching for a small turtle. These turtles are relatively small and can grow up to 3-5 inches in shell length. Map turtles get their name from the intricate markings that resemble a geographical map on their shells. These turtles inhabit freshwater bodies such as rivers, lakes, and marshes. Map turtles are also active and spend most of their day swimming underwater.
Map turtles are omnivorous and have a specific diet, including aquatic plants, small insects, and snails. Their intricate shell markings and engaging nature make them an excellent choice for a pet turtle. An average map turtle can cost around $50-$100, depending on its age, health, and size.
- Possess intricate lines and patterns on their shells that resemble geographic maps.
- Active swimmers are often found in freshwater habitats.
- Specific diet of insects, snails, and plants.
#9 Diamondback Terrapin
The diamondback terrapin is a species of small turtle measuring around 4-6 inches. These turtles get their name from the diamond patterns on their shell. This diamond pattern is found in different colors and is unique to each turtle. The diamondback terrapin inhabits brackish water habitats such as tidal marshes and estuaries.
These turtles are not choosey when it comes to food and are omnivorous. In captivity, these turtles can feed on a varied diet, including small fish, insects, aquatic plants, and small invertebrates. Due to their distinct appearance and docile temperament, these turtles are excellent considerations as pets. On average, a diamondback terrapin can cost around $100-$200, making them a luxurious option to consider.
- Distinct diamond-shaped patterns on their shells.
- Found in brackish water habitats, such as estuaries and tidal marshes.
- Have a varied diet, including aquatic invertebrates, fish, and plants.
#10 Chinese Pond Turtle
Chinese pond turtles are small turtles measuring 4-6 inches in shell length. These turtles are known for their notable ornate shell patterns, which generally have red or yellow accents. The Chinese pond turtle is diurnal and stays active during the day. They also require a basking spot to thermoregulate in their tank. Ensure there is enough space for swimming and basking spots inside the same tank.
These turtles are omnivorous and feed on a varied diet consisting of small insects, fish, and aquatic plants. These turtles also love to engage with their owners and have charismatic personality. On average, a Chinese pond turtle can cost around $80-$150.
- Unique ornate shell patterns, with yellow or red accents.
- Require both land and water areas in their tank.
- Omnivorous diet, having a variety of small insects, worms, and plants.
#11 Spotted Turtle
Spotted turtles are another popular species of small turtles. These turtles grow up to 3-4 inches and are one of the smallest turtle species. They are known for their spotted appearance, with a dark-colored shell adorned by bright yellow-colored spots. Each spotted turtle has unique markings, making them popular among reptile collectors.
Spotted turtles can be found in freshwater habitats with shallow water and abundant vegetation. These turtles are carnivorous and feed on a diet consisting of small insects, fish, and aquatic invertebrates. Spotted turtles can cost around $80-$120 in the market, depending on their morph, age, and health.
- Posses bright yellow spots on their dark-colored shells
- Thrive in habitats consisting of clean and shallow water with abundant vegetation.
- Carnivorous, feeding on small insects, fish, and other invertebrates.
#12 Bog Turtle
Bog turtles are one of the smallest and rarest turtles in North America. These turtles can grow up to 3-4 inches in length. These turtles inhabit wet or boggy areas consisting of mud or sandy substrate. Bog turtles are strictly prohibited by law due to their endangered status. Their conservation status and unique characteristics make them a collectible among serious reptile enthusiasts. A bog turtle can cost around $300-$500 due to their rarity status.
- One of the smallest and rarest turtles in North America.
- Inhabit wetlands and boggy areas consisting of sand or muddy substrates.
- Protected by law due to their endangered status.
Main Benefits of Having Small Turtles
There are many benefits of having small turtles as pets. Some of the benefits include manageable size, low maintenance, longer lifespan, and unique aesthetic appeal. Small turtles are compact and require less space compared to larger turtle species. They are a great fit if you have a small apartment or limited room space for a large-sized enclosure. Small turtles are also easy to maintain and care for. They do not require a lot of food and can be handled by beginner reptile owners.
Another aspect that you should consider is their low maintenance. A small turtle will not require a large enclosure, or frequent feeding, and will produce less waste. Thus, making it easier to clean and maintain the tank for your pet turtle.
Many small turtles are also known to have a long lifespan. Thus, offering lifelong companionship and love to their owners. Providing a comfortable space and suitable environment will boost their lifespan and prevent them from developing medical issues.
Lastly, having a small-sized pet turtle adds to its overall aesthetic and appearance. These small turtles are adorable to look at and love to engage with their owners. Thus, making them an excellent choice compared to large-sized turtles.
What is the smallest turtle you can keep as a pet?
Bog turtles are the smallest turtles that you can keep as pets. Although, they are highly protected due to their endangered status. Some other recommendations for small pets include mud turtles, musk turtles, and diamondback turtles.
What is the easiest small turtle to care for?
Mud turtles are a great recommendation for small turtles to have as pets. These turtles are easy to care for and grow up to 3-5 inches in shell length. Mud turtles are also known for their resilience and tolerance toward varying water conditions. Thus, making them an ideal choice for beginner pet owners.
Small turtles make the best pets; they are not only easy to care for but have a manageable size, and produce less waste. Small turtles also have a unique appearance and fascinating characteristics. Mud, musk, and box turtles are excellent choices for beginner reptile owners.
You should research more about their characteristics and unique traits to see if they are an ideal fit for your home. Ensure that you take care of their specific needs and provide them with a safe and comfortable environment to live in.