Question: I have found a baby painted turtle in my backyard and want to keep it as a pet. It’s the cutest little thing I have ever seen! I need some information like what size tank I need? I think I have my old hamster tank which is 10 gallons. Is that big enough? It seems like it would be since he is so small. Help is greatly appreciated. Are pet turtles hard to care for?
Reply from James U:
There is a general rule of thumb for housing turtles in aquariums. Figure on 10 gallons per every inch of turtle shell. It’s not a make or break rule but a good one to roughly figure on. You call out the turtle species as just ‘painted’ turtle but there are literally like 10 different types of painted turtles too. You have to get a little more specific. Even though it may be just a basic painted turtle to you, it is a more in depth type. That helps is to determine information regarding it a lot better.
Ten gallon aquariums are useless to animals in my opinion. Turtles need much more room than that. Your turtle may seem small right now but it will quickly grow. Most turtle owners buy a 55 gallon tank because they are so common and cheap. I literally just got done searching craigslist for used tanks and I saw a couple of 55s for under $50 cash. That’s super cheap and people complain that they can’t afford a descent size cage…
Turtles are not that easy to care for. I had fish for 10 years before getting into turtles and the fish were much easier. It seems the hardest part about caring for turtles is keeping the water clean. They are messy when they kill their prey and poop. Their fecal is a mess but it’s the price to pay for these cute reptiles. Second hardest part would have to be… keeping up with feeding them live food. A person doesn’t have to do this but I want my turtles healthy like they would be out in natural habitat.
A lot of people find turtles like you just did and automatically think keeping them as a pet is “saving” them but it really is worse than letting them to. Pet turtles come from backgrounds of being bred in captivity. Animals that have been in natural habitat and then caught and put into a cage… don’t do well. Even though you think its young enough, it really isn’t because it does know natural habitat already even as young as it is.
I know it probably sounds like I’m being a 70 year old grandma that is preaching but that’s not my intentions. Just helping you weigh out options versus keeping it or letting it to. I do a lot of preaching just because I care for these animals and if people don’t give them enough habitat to live inside they really do get depressed quite easily. That’s all I care about is making sure that these turtles have enough space to live inside because if you think about you living inside of a small bedroom for your entire life it’s just it’s going to be brutal on you. Is turtles can never leave their habitats so the better we make it the better lives they live.
@Reply: Maybe if you change up the habitat layout they will have something to do other than fight all the time. That’s what I do. I am constantly changing things around so they never get bored. Can you imagine living in a small tank like that? I also have been adding fish. Tetra or very fast fish work well. Silver dollars are a great choice. My turtles could never catch them.