Don’t assume that box turtles are easy or cheap pets to own just because they are small and live in an enclosure. Box turtles as pets are growing in popularity, and while they do make fun pets, they come with a lot of responsibility that you have to be prepared for in advance.
Unlike the traditional cats and dogs, turtles live in a confined space where their ideal conditions must be met. These conditions include lighting, humidity, temperature regulation, and nutritious food and space for exercise. Most box turtles are relatively cheap, but with them comes a lot of products and supplies that are necessary for a healthy life. How much does a box turtle cost exactly? We will break down every cost of owning a box turtle to help you decide if you can afford to have one of these reptiles in your home.
How Much Is a Box Turtle?
If you were to run to the closest chain pet store, you’d probably find a box turtle costs around $50, but this doesn’t include the variety of factors that make this price go up or down. The subspecies, size, age, availability, and area you buy your turtle all influence how much the turtle alone could cost. Let’s not forget this price doesn’t even begin to include all the supplies you need before taking them home. It should also be noted that selling a box turtle from the wild is illegal. Proper research should be done prior to purchasing a box turtle, including knowing how the seller has obtained the animals.
There are a lot of different turtle subspecies, and each one is different from one another. Some are more popular to have as pets, and those kinds are usually cheaper than the rarer species. Here is a quick cost breakdown of what you can expect to pay for different box turtles:
|Aquatic Box Turtle||$30–$100|
|Eastern Box Turtle||$140–$260|
|Desert Box Turtle||$300–$400|
|Chinese Box Turtle||$300–$380|
|McCord Box Turtle||$7,000–$8,000|
|Indonesian Box Turtle||$50–$120|
|Asian Box Turtle||$90–$130|
|Three-Toed Box Turtle||$140–$430|
|Ornate Box Turtle||$200–$350|
The subspecies isn’t the only factor that determines the price. Within these ranges are age, size, area, and availability that could all affect the cost of the turtle. Baby box turtles are usually less than adults, larger ones cost more than smaller ones, and not all box turtles are readily available where you live. If you live close to aquatic box turtle habitats, then they may be cheaper than the rarer species, like the McCord turtles.
Shopping for Box Turtles
You’re more likely to find box turtles for sale at local pet shops, fish shops, and there are even some stores that explicitly sell turtles, but those are rarer. If you’re looking for a specific species, prepare yourself for the chance that you may have to do more research to find a reputable shop, and it could be a bit pricier than chain stores.
Online shopping has also gained popularity over the past decade, and you can now have some turtles shipped directly to you. It is ultimately up to you to make an informed decision where you want to buy your box turtle, but request the store’s license before making any purchases from them. Whenever you do buy a turtle, ask if they have a warranty policy. Most trusted stores give you money back if there are any health problems that occur up to two weeks after your purchase.
Extra Costs of Owning a Box Turtle
You can’t buy a box turtle and take it home without having a safe place to put it. Most people end up paying anywhere from $80 to $200 for an aquarium system. A lot of stores now sell them as aquarium kits so that you can set up their home with one purchase. These often include spacious tanks, filtration systems, water conditioners, heat lamps, and floating rocks. If you purchase everything separately, expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $50 dollars for each item.
Giving your turtles a safe space to call home is immensely important. Without the right habitat conditions, food, and water, they could become ill or die. Box turtles are omnivores and eat berries, insects, flowers, and amphibians. They enjoy having treats on top of food sticks that meet their dietary needs. Expect to pay around $40 every month for turtle food and snacks.
Turtles also require yearly checkups and visits to the vet when they aren’t acting normally. Most initial check ups take around an hour and cost around $50.
There are a lot of factors that go into owning a turtle and you want to ensure that you are meeting all of their needs and giving them the happiest, safest environment they can be in. Let’s break down how much the initial cost of owning a box turtle is.
Initial Cost of Owning a Box Turtle
|Aquarium with filter:||~$100|
Keep in mind that these listed prices are all estimates and could vary based on the brand and store you buy them at. After doing the math, you quickly realize that the initial cost of owning a box turtle costs around $420. You have to continue to change out their water, clean their tank, and supply them with tasty treats that give them a well-rounded diet.
Sometimes people assume that a turtle is going to be less work and money than other traditional pets, but there is a lot of dedication involved in owning reptiles. They have very specific demands and easily become ill when those things aren’t provided to them. Before buying a box turtle as a pet, do the math and make sure that it doesn’t only make sense price wise, but that you’ll be dedicated to them throughout their entire lives. Box turtles live up to 20 years as pets and owning them is not something to be taken lightly.
Featured Image Credit: Lisa Holder, Shutterstock