Rather frequently, someone will buy a small green turtle
under the impression that it will stay that small. Usually this
happens to unsuspecting animal lovers who see these little
sweet turtles for sale. They then ask how big it will get, and
they are told that it won't grow, or that it will stay small.
They ask how to take care of the turtle, and are told to just
put it in a water dish and feed it .
Soon after, the new and inexperienced turtle owner finds out
that the turtle won't eat, that it is sick, or that it is growing
at an unexpected rate. This is, when the learning starts.
This is also the place to compliment all those people who
decide to keep their turtle and give it the home it needs, which
is usually an overwhelming and task and an unexpected expense.
Chances are that you are reading this page because you are
one of these people. I am sorry you got tricked into getting a
pet that turned out not to be what you thought you bought.
If you have the means to provide for your baby turtle, I would
encourage you to do so. What seems like an overwhelming task
at first will become quite straightforward once you have a
proper setup and a bit of practice.
Here are a few facts I would like you to know:
* 99 out of 100 baby turtles die in the first year. Some die, because
they were not fit to live, some die from stress and filth during
shipping. Many die from malnutrition, cold, and ignorance.
Most people who buy a pet want to take good care of it and give it
their heart. But, unfortunately that doesn't help, if the information
is wrong or non-existent.
* There is no such thing as a "miniature turtle." Most turtles sold as
such are baby red-eared sliders or other turtles from the same family.
These turtles reach an adult size between 7 and 14 and more inches,
depending on gender.
* If your little turtle is green with orange cheeks, it is a red-eared
slider. If it is green with a yellow belly with dark markings, it is
most likely another slider-type turtle. These are the most common baby
turtles sold. Do find out what kind of turtle you have, since every turtle
has somewhat different needs and requirements.
* It is ILLEGAL in the United States to commercially sell any turtle smaller
than 4 inches. It is LEGAL to keep, breed, and give away these turtles.
It is LEGAL to buy/get one from a friend who had a litter.
(There is an exception for educational purposes.)
If someone sold you a baby turtle (at a fair, at a store) and lied to you,
I encourage you to contact the Fish and Game Department (it may be called
something a bit different in your state) or an animal rescue operation with
as much information as you have. You will do a good deed. Likely the person
will get caught, and a small step towards reducing smuggling and illegal sales
of turtles has been taken; which, and this is what I care most about, will save
the lives of many turtles.
Refer to the rest of this web site to find out how to take care of
Also, follow some of the links at the home page to find more information
about turtle conservation.
Turtles that stay small
I often get asked whether there are any turtles that stay
small. The following turtles don't grow big and are readily
available in the United States.
MALE Reeves turtles, spotted turtles (not legal to keep everywhere),
Diamond back terrapins, and musk turtles all USUALLY stay smaller than
5 inches. Of these, I would recommend a musk turtle, if you are not
an experienced turtle keeper. Musk turtles are available through the
pet trade. Males usually stay smaller than females. Musk turtles are hardy
and make good pets.