Pet Keen advocates for adopting before shopping. We understand there are many reasons for seeking a breeder or purchasing from a store, though, so we encourage it to be done the right way. Learn more.
Turtles are popular pets prized for their appearance and behavior. Many people enjoy watching turtles soak, bathe, and swim around. There are tons of different turtles that are available to own as pets, from small mud turtles to fearsome snapping turtles. (Some exotic turtles will need a permit from your local government to legally own.) While many people have an interest in turtles, few people know the best place to buy one or the best buying practices. This guide will cover where to buy a turtle, including adoption options, online options, and in person options.
Turtles as Pets: What to Know Before Welcoming One into Your Home
Many people believe that turtles are low-maintenance pets, but that is not the case. In fact, turtles require a hefty amount of specialized care to survive. Turtles need the proper water, the right tank, UV light, and special nutrients. If you do not properly care for your turtle, it can quickly become weak and even die. Before getting a turtle, make sure you know exactly what your turtle needs to live a happy, healthy life. Also, make sure to research the particular turtle species you’re interested in because different species occasionally require individualized care.
The other important thing to realize before adopting a turtle is the fact that turtles can live for decades. Box turtles are one of the most popular types of pet turtles, and they can live between 25 and 35 years under human care. Other turtles can live even longer. That means if you get your kid a turtle, you will likely need to plan on keeping it well after they move out. Many turtles are released into the wild or dumped at shelters because people realize they don’t want to take care of a turtle for decades. Do not get a turtle unless you are prepared to own it for 20 years or more.
Where to Adopt a Turtle
- Average cost: $10 to $50
It is preferable to try to adopt a turtle before you buy one. Adopting animals has many benefits over buying. It helps rehome a pet that might not have a home currently, and it helps reduce the number of pets in shelters and the number of pets in the outdoor ecosystem. Turtles are a great pet to adopt because they have such long lifespans. That means if someone can no longer care for a 10-year-old turtle, you can adopt it and still get 10 to 20 years of good life out of them without having to buy one.
Here are some of the best places to find turtles up for adoption before you look to buy one.
1. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is one of the best places to find a turtle to adopt. The SPCA will run animal shelters where they take in unwanted animals and strive to give them the best life possible. Many SPCA shelters are “for all” meaning they won’t turn away animals, and that includes turtles. If you are looking to adopt a turtle, get in touch with your local SPCA chapter and put yourself on a list of people looking to adopt a turtle.
2. The Humane Society
The Humane Society is similar to the SPCA in that they run local shelters, and they often take in animals that the county shelters will not. The Humane Society often has a small number of exotic pets in their possession that they are willing to adopt out to educated pet owners. Look up your local Humane Society office and inquire about turtles up for adoption.
3. Local Government Wildlife Department
Most people don’t realize that their local wildlife department will often adopt animals to citizens. For example, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has a program where people can apply to be registered adopters. That allows them to be able to adopt animals that the FWC takes in. That can include turtles. Animals adopted from local government agencies could be exotic or rare, which appeals to some pet owners.
Lastly, you can check craigslist. craigslist has a whole section dedicated to animals, and many people are looking to move on from pets like turtles. Look for keywords like “rehome” and “adopt out” when searching craigslist. Some people on craigslist are dealers and breeders, but some people are just looking to move on from a pet for a variety of reasons. Some people need to rehome a turtle because they are moving or because a loved one can no longer care for them. Be sure to read the details and talk to the people about the turtle before making any decisions if you choose to use craigslist.
Where to Buy Turtles Online
- Average cost: $20 to $500, depending on species, age, and rarity; shipping can be expensive
It might sound strange to buy a turtle online, but you can absolutely do it. Online retailers obtain special shipping permits and supplies that allow them to ship live animals directly to your door. Federal Express (FedEx) is one of the only major carriers to allow the shipment of live animals such as turtles. When you buy online, the seller will carefully package and ship your animal via expedited shipping. Before buying online, you should check reviews and ensure you will be home when your animal arrives. Shipping animals is not cheap, and shipping costs are much higher for live animals like turtles than for a typical item you might buy online.
These are three of the best online retailers to buy turtles from.
1. My Turtle Store
My Turtle Store is an online store that exclusively deals in turtles and tortoises. That means they are more specialized than other online retailers that deal in a large variety of reptiles and amphibians. My Turtle Store allows you to quickly buy baby and juvenile turtles as well as all of the supplies you might need in the future. My Turtle Store has over 20 different types and species of turtles for sale, giving you plenty of options when searching for your next pet turtle.
2. Underground Reptiles
Underground Reptiles is a large online marketplace with a selection of turtles for sale. They offer dozens of different types of turtles, including babies, started, and yearlings. Underground Reptiles breed many of their own animals, but they also host auctions and third-party sellers. This allows you to get the largest variety of turtles in one place. The auctions allow you to potentially snag great deals on turtles. Some auctions even include a whole litter of turtles for one price.
3. Turtle Store
Not to be confused with My Turtle Store, Turtle Store is another online retailer specializing in live turtles and turtle supplies. They have over a dozen different species of turtles that they deal in. They even have two different species of snapping turtles that you can buy. If you are interested in other animals, Turtle Store also sells a variety of other reptiles and amphibians.
Pet Stores That Sell Turtles
- Average cost: $40 to $400, depending on age, species, and rarity; sales and lack of shipping costs can make this a cheaper option
If you are looking to buy a turtle rather than adopt one, it is often a good idea to go in person. Buying a turtle in person has numerous benefits. It allows you to see the turtles up close and pick the one that appeals to you. Buying in person also gives you the chance to talk to an expert about the animal’s needs before making a final purchasing decision. There are numerous places to buy a turtle in person, with these stores being some of the best ones to check out.
PetSmart is one of the largest pet retailers in the United States. They specialize in common pets, and they always have a selection of live animals to browse. PetSmart also has ample supplies on the shelves and experts on hand to walk you through the buying process. You can find a nearby PetSmart in every metropolitan area in the United States.
Petco is another large retailer that can be found all over the United States. They often have live animals in stock that you can choose from. Petco does not list what animals are available on their website. The best thing to do if you are looking to buy a turtle from Petco is to call or go to your local store to see what they have and ask the employees about their individual turtle stock.
3. Local Reptile Stores
Every area tends to have a number of local reptile stores. Reptiles and amphibians are very popular, and many times, local sellers will have their own brick-and-mortar stores that are unique to each area. Many local stores are small businesses that only operate one or two stores at the most. You can do a quick search online for nearby reptile stores, and you will be surprised at how many pop up. Local stores have the benefit of being small and dedicated, and they often have special inventories of native or rare turtles to consider.
Turtle Breeder Information
Finding a turtle breeder can be difficult. Many times, breeders open their own shops and simply sell their stock to the public. Turtles are not like dogs or cats, where breeders work out of their homes and sell animals piecemeal. Many turtle breeds sell their hatchlings to nearby reptile stores or own their own store (either online or in person). If you are looking for a particular turtle breeder, your best bet is to find them at local conventions. There are numerous yearly reptile conventions that travel around the country where breeders and sellers connect with one another.
Tips for Adopting or Buying a Turtle
Remember That Turtles Can Live for a Very Long Time
The biggest thing to consider before buying a turtle is the lifespan of the animal. There have been countless people who have bought turtles only to find themselves in over their heads due to the animal’s extensive lifespan. Cats and dogs typically live between 12 and 20 years. Turtles can easily live for twice that long. Turtles can be a lifelong commitment, especially if you are an adult. If you buy a turtle that will potentially live for 40 years and you are 30 years old, you will have that turtle until you are 70 if the turtle reaches its full lifespan.
Turtle Tanks Need Frequent Cleaning
Turtle tanks need to be cleaned regularly. They need to be scrubbed out at least weekly. The water should be changed and treated multiple times per week. If you do not clean your turtle’s tank regularly, it will become swampy, stinky, and filled with algae or even mold. Many people complain about the stench of pet turtles, and that smell is often the result of poor hygiene on the part of the turtle owner. If you are not prepared to clean your turtle tank regularly, you could end up with a smelly enclosure or a sick turtle.
Seek People Looking to Rehome Their Turtle
Since turtles live such long lives, there are usually plenty of people looking to rehome their turtles. Finding a turtle to adopt from a local person is the best way to obtain a new turtle. Adopting a turtle from a local person can save you money, help a neighbor, and keep the number of abandoned, lost, and sick turtles to a minimum. If you do want to buy a turtle, buying in person can be easier and more enlightening than buying online. That is doubly true if you are an inexperienced or first-time turtle owner.
There are numerous ways to buy a turtle. One of the best ways is to find turtles up for adoption at local shelters or to find someone nearby looking to move or rehome their turtle. If you are bent on buying a turtle, there are numerous options both online and in person that you can utilize. There are dozens of different types and varieties of turtles for sale, ranging in price from $20 to $400, ready to find a new loving home.
- Where to Buy Snapping Turtles (Adoption, Online & Retail)
- Where to Buy Tortoises (Adoption, Online & Retail)
Featured Image Credit: Ivan Smuk, Shutterstock