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Where to Buy a Pet Turtle? (Plus, Overview of the Best Places)

Kristin Hitchcock

Turtles can make great pets. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are great options for everyone. They need a bit more work than most people realize, so be sure that you know everything that goes into owning one of these turtles before you decide to adopt one.

In many areas, it is illegal to own turtles, so you should carefully check your local laws before searching for stores. Many retail chains will not sell turtles in areas where it is illegal, but they may sell turtles in other places.

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Retail Stores That Sell Turtles

Florida red-bellied cooter basking
Image Credit: M.E. Parker, Shutterstock
  • PetcoThe Petco chain typically sells turtles in its stores in areas where it is legal. Therefore, if you have this store near you, you may want to check to see if they have any turtles for you to purchase. Petco often has many different turtles, though the exact breeds vary. Often, it is simply a matter of what shipments it got in the week before.
  • PetSmartPetSmart also carries turtles in areas where it is legal. The exact turtles they carry vary from location to location and may change regularly. If you want something in particular, you may end up waiting a bit.

Online Stores That Sell Turtles

It is possible to purchase turtles online. They can survive shipping without a problem as long as the temperature is correct. Just be sure to purchase these turtles from a quality source. Otherwise, the turtle may not be healthy.

  • Backwater Reptiles – This online retailer is a great option for purchasing a turtle. They often have many different species available, making them a great choice if you’re looking for something specific. Their turtles are moderately priced. They have a 100% live arrival guarantee and sell premium pet food.
  • My Turtle Store –  We also recommend My Turtle Store because they sell a wide variety of different turtles and tortoises. They also sell all the supplies that you might need, so you can purchase everything from one place. Their turtles are quite inexpensive, making them a great option for those on a budget. They regularly hold sales, so be sure to check their website regularly.
  • Turtle Store – As the name suggests, this store sells turtles and just about everything else that comes with turtles. They have a 7-day health guarantee for all their animals, ensuring that you get a healthy turtle. They also provide good customer service if you have any serious problems. All turtles are shipped with UPS overnight and in an insulated package. Their animals are completely captive-bred.
  • The Turtle Source – This store sells turtles of all sorts. They tend to be a bit expensive, though. You’ll need to keep this in mind when shopping. However, some of their turtles are of higher quality. They have a blog that provides information about turtle care. You can also purchase turtle food for your new turtles.
  • CB Reptiles – This online store is one of the top sellers of reptiles around, including turtles. They have a live arrival guarantee, and their animals tend to be extremely high-quality. For this reason, they are typically recommended by many reptile buyers. They sell baby turtles and certain adults. What they have available does vary widely, so you’ll need to check back often, especially if you’re looking for something specific.
  • Underground Reptiles – For all sorts of different turtles, you can look at Underground Reptiles. This online store has many different reptiles, including a variety of turtles. Some of their turtles are quite expensive, though, so be sure you’re prepared for the extra cost.

Can You Legally Buy a Turtle?

Chicken Turtle
Image Credit: J.Rangubphai, Shutterstock

Turtle laws can be quite complicated. Turtles are available in some areas but not in others. You can often not own native turtles, though some states allow captive-bred native turtles to be owned. You do need to keep a record of where the turtle came from, though.

Turtles carry salmonella, which is why they are banned in some regions. Therefore, we highly recommend checking the laws in your area before making a purchase.

Is Owning a Turtle Expensive?

The initial setup can be expensive, but after you purchase all the starting equipment, turtle care is often not that expensive. The startup cost can be as much as $600 or even $1,000. Beyond that, turtles will only cost a few hundred dollars a year for food and replacing any equipment. Turtles live a long time, so you will be paying these maintenance costs for a while.

However, these costs are spread out quite a bit, so you can budget appropriately.divider-turtle

Final Thoughts

The laws around owning turtles can be complicated. Different areas have different laws. Sometimes, laws from the federal level may counteract state laws or vice versa. Therefore, the very first thing that you should do is check your local laws.

If you cannot own a turtle legally in your area, you should not purchase one. Most local places will not sell them, and many online stores won’t ship them to you.

If you can legally own a turtle, you can either purchase one at a local store near you or online. Online stores will often have the most selection. So, if you’re looking for something specific, they are the best options.

However, going to retail stores means you can skip shipping, which takes a great deal of stress off of the animal. That said, it’s mostly up to your preference. If you do purchase a turtle online, be sure to only purchase it from a quality source.


Featured Image Credit: Freeartfeelant, Shutterstock

Kristin Hitchcock

Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one day!