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Home > Turtles > 10 DIY Indoor Turtle Habitat Plans You Can Make Today (With Pictures)

10 DIY Indoor Turtle Habitat Plans You Can Make Today (With Pictures)

turtle diy habitat_Relax_with_nature_Pixabay

Setting up a habitat for a turtle can be an overwhelming task because it feels like a project that requires a lot of planning and forethought. To an extent, this is true. You should always be overly prepared and educated on any pet’s needs before you bring it home. However, that doesn’t mean it has to cost an arm and a leg and require 45 items to set up an appropriate habitat.

Whether you have an aquatic or terrestrial turtle, there’s a DIY habitat plan here for you. Following a plan will help ensure you have all the materials and tools you need before you start on a project. Once you’ve collected everything you need to get a habitat built, any of the following plans can be completed in a day with focus and planning.


The Top 10 DIY Indoor Turtle Habitat Plans

1. Indoor Aquatic Turtle Habitat by Pippa Elliott, wikiHow

DIY Indoor Aquatic Turtle Habitat
Image Credit: Pippa Elliott, wikiHow
Materials: Surface mount pond, wood, heat lamp, water filter, substrate, plants, décor, nontoxic waterproof sealant
Tools: Miter saw, tape measure, screws, screwdriver, wood glue
Difficulty Level: Difficult

Whether you’ve stumbled upon an aquatic turtle that needs a home or your current aquatic environment went kaput, you may need to get an indoor aquatic setup up and running today. This DIY plan shows you how you can set up an indoor aquatic habitat for your turtle in just 13 steps. Depending on the materials you already have on hand, you may be able to put this habitat together in a day’s time.

This is a simple design that offers your aquatic turtle plenty of space both in and out of the water, allowing them space to bask, eat, and swim. You can select a pond and build a frame that fits the space you have available, although you should still ensure that the environment is an appropriate size for the type and size of turtle you have.

2. Box Turtle Habitat by Melissa Nelson, wikiHow

DIY Box Turtle Habitat
Image Credit: Melissa Nelson, wikiHow
Materials: Turtle table or wood, nontoxic waterproof sealant, plastic container, mesh screening, substrate, heat lamp, UV lamp, humidity monitor, décor, plants, shallow swimming dish
Tools: Miter saw, tape measure, screws, screwdriver, wood glue
Difficulty Level: Moderate to difficult

Box turtles are often happiest in outdoor environments, but that isn’t always a possibility. This DIY indoor box turtle habitat is a great alternative to an outdoor enclosure when that isn’t an option for you. Box turtles have very specific care needs, so make sure you are well aware of these needs before you purchase any supplies. If you can find a turtle table, that will make this project much easier for you, but if you can’t find one, you’ll need to build one yourself.

This DIY plan has great advice on how to properly set up both the heat lamp and UV lamp, so your turtle gets the maximum benefit from both without risking injury. Make sure to follow the instructions on the appropriate setup of all tank items.

3. DIY Epic Indoor Turtle Pond Setup by Steff J

Materials: Garden fencing, plastic tubs, faux grass, nontoxic waterproof sealant, water filter, substrate, plants, décor, heat lamp, PVC pipes, PVC connectors, rope
Tools: Wire cutters, superglue, aquarium silicone
Difficulty Level: Moderate

If you’re looking for a relatively simple project that should only take a few hours, then this epic indoor habitat for an aquatic turtle might be what you’re looking for. This might not be the simplest project, but it does require minimal experience with DIY projects to complete. Many of the necessary tools and materials may be things you already have at home.

Depending on the type and size of turtle you have, you may have to make some additions to this project to make it extra secure. This is especially important if you have a turtle that is small or smart enough to figure out how to escape between the bars of the garden fencing. The addition of mesh screening could be a good option for this.

4. Indoor Box Turtle Habitat by Calico Road

DIY Indoor Box Turtle Habitat
Image By: Calico Road
Materials: Wood, faux grass, nontoxic waterproof sealant, heat lamp, UV lamp, basking rock, substrate, shallow swimming dish
Tools: Miter saw, tape measure, screws, screwdriver, wood glu
Difficulty Level: Difficult

If you like a project you’ll have to build from the ground up, this indoor box turtle habitat is a great option. This project allows you plenty of options for customization, allowing you to fit your space and aesthetic preferences, as well as your turtle’s enclosure preferences. You can build this to be a permanent or temporary option for your box turtle.

Although this plan doesn’t call for it, it’s generally recommended to put some type of cover, like mesh screening, over a box turtle’s enclosure. These turtles are escape artists, even in enclosures with high sides.

5. Jungle-Themed Indoor Turtle Pond

Materials: Waterproof sealant, foam board, wood boards, brackets, bolts and nuts, stock tank/tub, canister filter, water heater, UVB lamp, air pump, tubing, wood screws, acrylic sheet, substrate, décor
Tools: Drill, measuring tape, box cutter, epoxy glue
Difficulty Level: Difficult

This challenging project will likely take you a while to assemble. But the jungle-themed turtle pond will be worth the effort! Not only will it give your turtles a great indoor pond, but if you opt to decorate it the way that it is in the video, it can also make for a beautiful area in your home.

There is a complete list of supplies included, along with links to Amazon products. You can finetune this project any way that you want or follow the instructions exactly. Beyond decorating, the instructions for ensuring that your turtles have a safe enclosure should be followed closely.

6. Indoor Pond for Painted Turtles

Materials: 4’x4’x6’ railroad ties, planks, decking screws, pond liner, substrate, paint, driftwood, fake plants, décor, UVB heat lamps, filter
Tools: Drill, staple gun, paintbrush
Difficulty Level: Moderate to difficult

This indoor pond for painted turtles can be easy for some people but more difficult for those who haven’t worked on a project like this before. The video by Garden State Tortoise doesn’t list the materials needed, but watching the video will give you information about everything that you need.

This is an attractive indoor pond for painted turtles. This video doesn’t include a filter, but one was added in this updated video. If you have the space, it’s an excellent option for your turtle’s habitat.

7. Indoor Box Turtle Enclosure

DIY Indoor Turtle Habitats
Image By: Box Turtle Site
Materials: Plastic tub, substrate, water bowl, flat rocks, UVB heat lamp, items for the turtle to hide under
Tools: As needed
Difficulty Level: Easy

This box turtle habitat is as easy as it gets! You just need to get your hands on a large plastic tub, fill it with substrate, hiding places, décor, and a heat lamp. However, box turtles do best outside, so an enclosure such as this one is best as a temporary home. If your turtle is ill or injured or it’s winter, this can make an effective habitat.

Read through the instructions carefully because you’ll need to ensure that you get a tub that is big enough for your turtle(s).

8. DIY Indoor Turtle Pond

Materials: Plastic tub, branch/rock for basking, UVB heat lamp, filter, plants, optional bamboo blind, optional cinder blocks
Tools: Saw, scissors
Difficulty Level: Easy

This is a super-easy turtle pond project that only requires a plastic tub and a few other bits and pieces to pull it together. The video creator fills up a 40-gallon tub and places in the necessary items, and it’s done! A heater isn’t included, though, which you might need in your location.

The YouTuber doesn’t place any substrate in the tub but discusses adding gravel at a future date.

9. Surface-Mount Ponds for Sliders and Aquatic Turtles

DIY Indoor Turtle Habitats
Image By: Tortoise Trust
Materials: Pre-formed pond, plywood, 4”x4” posts, aquarium heater with protection sleeve, air pump, UVB lamp, flat rocks, filter, plants, aquarium stones, bottom drain valve
Tools: Aquarium sealant, drill
Difficulty Level: Easy to difficult

The instructions for these indoor ponds for turtles are simple and guide you through choosing the right kind of plastic ponds that will work for your turtles. Other DIY options are covered, like a platform for the pond so pets and children don’t have easy access.

The creator also discusses choosing the right filter and setting up the pond with all the decorative and important bits, like the heat lamp.

10. Paludarium Indoor Turtle Aquarium

Materials: Large aquarium, sand, glass, pond and stone filler, rocks, driftwood, substrate, UVB lamp, filter, live plants
Tools: Silicone, box cutter, brush
Difficulty Level: Moderate

This paludarium for turtles is gorgeous, and while it will take work and patience, it ultimately isn’t a difficult habitat to build. A paludarium mixes land and water with live plants, so it’s perfect for aquatic turtles.

The video creator admits to a few errors, but this makes it more relatable and less likely for you to make the same mistakes. Also, the final result is amazing!


A Word of Caution

If you’re looking to put together a last-minute turtle enclosure because your kid just walked in the door with a turtle, then you need to acquaint yourself with the laws in your area. In many locations, it’s illegal to box terrestrial and aquatic turtles from the wild. To make things even worse, if you take a wild turtle, keep it for a few days or weeks, then release it, then you can be doing even more harm to the turtle and the ecosystem.

Not only is it often illegal to take a turtle from the wild, but it’s often illegal to re-release the turtle back into the wild as well. If you’ve come across a distressed wild turtle, contacting your local Game and Fish Commission or wildlife rehabber is your best bet for helping the turtle without breaking any laws.

Featured Image Credit: Relax_with_nature, Pixabay

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