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How Much Does a Turtle Cost? (2021 Update)

Nicole Cosgrove

Turtles are one of the lowest maintenance pets that you can find. They are slow-moving and not demanding, yet they are unique and can be quite entertaining. If you have an interest in buying and owning a turtle, ensure that you can care for them properly by having a budget ready.

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Bringing Home a New Turtle: One-Time Costs

Buying the turtle itself is one of the primary one-time costs you’ll encounter. Getting a proper enclosure for them are all normally one-time costs as well. This is because turtles are not very hard on the materials they live with, so they do not need replacing very frequently, if at all.

Free

Some people will be looking to rehome their turtles. Since turtles are generally not a very expensive pet, to begin with, they are not often associated with a rehoming fee. Instead, rescuing a turtle will likely be free as long as you are ready with all of the right materials.

turtle closeup
Image Credit: Roberto Patti, Unsplash

Adoption

  • $10–$40

If you’re looking to adopt a turtle you could go to a local pet store or even a pet shelter. If someone in the local community couldn’t find a new home for their turtle before they ran out of time, they probably gave them to the pet shelter. Pet stores are also likely to have a small range of turtles for adoption.


Breeder

  • $50–$100

If you are a serious turtle owner, the other option is to adopt them from a breeder, where you can expect your turtle to cost from $50 to $100. Although there are not very many turtle breeders out there, you can find them for rarer and more interesting turtle varieties. Frequently, even if a breeder raises typical turtle species, they will be more expensive than adopting them or buying them from a pet shop.

Painted Turtle: $20-40
Box Turtle: $25-50
Red-Eared Slider: $10-30
Common Wood Turtle: $20-100

Supplies

  • $200–$800

The amount you spend on the supplies for your turtle’s enclosure is primarily up to you. Most of the supplies you purchase at the beginning will be a one-time investment into an animal that can live for as long as you can. Turtles in captivity can live from 10 to 80 years!

 

List of Turtle Care Supplies and Cost

Cage: $50-$300
Veterinary Checkup (Annual): $45-$75
Tank Supplies & Equipment: $100-$400
Bedding: $20-$40/month
Additional Supplies: $5
Toys: $10
Carrier: $10
Food and Treats: $20-40/month
Food and Water Bowls: $10

Annual Expenses

$200–$500 per year

The annual expenses for a turtle are typically between $200 and $500 each year depending on what kind of food you choose to feed them, how often you clean their bedding and tank interior, and how many toys or supplies you put inside the tank.

A veterinary appointment is also a good part of the budget to factor into the turtle’s annual expenses, but we will detail that below.

Turtle Eating Fruit
Image Credit: Maya Shustov, Shutterstock

Health Care

$45–$200 per year

Primarily, all that you need to worry about for a turtle is their annual vet checkups. They do not need anything but a check-up when you first buy them since they do not get vaccinations, should not be microchipped, and any surgery to spay or neuter them is extremely invasive.


Check-Ups

$45–$75 per year

Check-ups are typically the only facet of health care that you will need to worry about for your turtle. Take them into a vet that knows about reptiles and give them a thorough once over without doing anything invasive. This treatment should be enough to verify their overall health for the next year.


Vaccinations

$0

Vaccinations are entirely unnecessary for most reptiles, and that very much includes turtles. These boxy little animals do not have very many things that they suffer from and thus do not need to be protected using shots.

Not only are vaccinations entirely unnecessary for pet turtles, but they also are not obtainable. The pet health industry has never had cause to develop vaccines for turtles, so there are none that you can give to your pet.

turtle
Image Credit: Chikilino, Pixabay

Dental

$0

Again, dental care at the hands of a vet is entirely unnecessary since turtles don’t have teeth. Instead, they are similar to birds in the fact that they only have a beak. Supposedly, there have been turtle teeth found on fossils, but the modern-day turtles no longer have anything but a powerful jaw that can easier rip their prey of choice apart.


Treatments for Parasites

$15–$150 per year

One of the few things that turtles can suffer from is getting infected by parasites. Like almost any other creature, turtles can end up contracting parasites like flukes, tapeworms, flagellates, and nematodes.

Without treatment, some of these issues can be life-threatening. If you think that your turtle suffers from a parasite, perhaps from some of their food, then take them to your vet. They prescribe them the appropriate medication and treatment to rid them of their unwanted friends.


Emergencies

$100+ per year

It can be challenging to estimate how much you could expect to spend if your turtle needs some emergency surgery or treatment. These do not often happen since you can carefully monitor the safety of their environment. Try to have at least $100 put away for turtle-related emergencies so that you are ready if they happen once or twice in a turtle’s very long life.

a turtle on a log
Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

Medications for On-Going Conditions

$50–$150 per year

It is highly uncommon for your turtle to have on-going conditions for which they will continuously need to take medication. However, perhaps as they age and their bodies change, they might develop an issue. It is not very common for any medication for a turtle to be very expensive, so you don’t have to worry about paying too much for their maintenance each year.


Insurance

$48–$1,200 per year

Insuring a turtle is not a very common thing to do since they are generally very cheap pets. However, some of these animals are considered exotics and might be worth something in the right market. If you want to protect your turtle or your investment in them, taking out insurance isn’t a bad idea. Turtle insurance often starts at around $4 each month but can extend to over $100 if your turtle species is quite rare.


Food

$240–$480 per year

Your turtle’s diet will depend on their species. Terrestrial turtles are omnivores and need a mix of insects like grubs, earthworms, or snails and fruit with leafy greens.

You can easily find a good mix of turtle food at a pet store or order some in if you want more control over their diet. It is easy to add food for your turtle right onto your grocery list.

red-eared slider turtle
Image Credit: Flyri, Pixabay

Environment Maintenance

$130-$200 per year

The maintenance for your pet turtle is not very high. Their environments, once you have made that initial investment, are easily managed. You may want to replace old toys or tank equipment every so often, but the budget for that is minimal. Ensure that their heat lamps are always functioning correctly and that their environment is relatively clean, and your turtle will be happy.

Bedding: $60/year
Treated water: $30/year
Toys: $40/year

Entertainment

$40–$120 per year

Turtles are simple creatures and do not need very much to keep them entertained. There are certain turtle toys or structures that you can get for them, but this is entirely up to you and how much you want to invest in your turtle annually.


Total Annual Cost of Owning a Turtle

$285-$555 per year

The total annual cost of owning a turtle can be meager, especially when comparing them to other common household pets. The figures above for the total yearly cost to own a turtle do not incorporate the initial purchase of your turtle or their cage since after you get this setup, you will not have to make those purchases again.

turtle outdoors
Image Credit: Barni1, Pixabay

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Owning a Turtle On a Budget

Turtles are not difficult pets to own on a budget since they are so low-maintenance. They do not require very much to keep them occupied. Try to invest in a high-quality tank and material for their enclosure initially, and the rest of the time you own the turtle should be relatively cheap.

You can easily get away with spending only $20 a month on them and keep them perfectly happy and healthy.

Saving Money on Turtle Care

There are not too many ways to save money on your turtle care since they are already cheap. You mustn’t skimp too much on their bedding and the food you give them since they are the most influential parts of their lives.

In the beginning, you can get a tank that is high-quality but then get cheaper materials to put inside their enclosure until you can save up to replace them with nicer things.

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Conclusion

The initial cost to get a turtle and all of their supplies might seem a little steep to some people, especially if you are going for high-quality items. You can spend upwards of $400 or more if you so choose. However, it isn’t necessary to break the bank with a turtle, and you can also supplement their enclosure as time goes on.

Once you have made those initial investments, it is very easy and relatively cheap to annually care for the turtle. Ensure that you have something set aside for emergencies, and then rest easy and enjoy your new pet turtle!

submit a pet pk turtle


Featured Image Credit: Magrietha, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.