Pet Turtles That Stay Small? Finding The Right One

Pet Turtles that stay small

Before you decide to buy a pet turtle always think carefully and research, don’t be like some people that buy them for you or your kid without knowing that a turtle is like any other pet, a life commitment for you and your child. Turtles do make wonderful pets and are relatively low maintenance but have a long life and some need big living space. First thing you need to research what pet turtle breed you will buy. This one is all up to you, if you don’t have much living space, cannot afford a huge aquarium for them always buy pet turtles that will stay small for a whole life. One warning though! All turtles are small in pet shops, but over time some species of turtles can grow to big sizes.


So for start lets talk about some more popular types of pet turtles that stay small forever:

  • Musk Turtles (Sternotherus Odoratus):
    These popular and one of the best pet turtles grow up to 3 to 4 inches and will stay in that size whole lifetime which is about 50 years. It is always recommended that when buying musk turtle always take care to buy them from captive-bred as they cannot and must not be removed from their natural habitat
  • Mud Turtle (Kinosternon):
    They grow up to 5 inches and live in captivity also around 50 years.
  • Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata):
    Beautiful turtles that are semi-aquatic which means that it will spend most of time in dry space of aquarium or in this case terrarium. They grow up to 6 inches and have also lifespan around 50 years. When planning spotted turtle living space use 50/50 ration on dry and water areas.
  • Reeve’s turtle (Mauremys reevesii):
    Originating from Asia this is also one of more popular turtles, they grow more around 5 inches and live around 50 years if cared for.


Now if you have a small living space and do not want to provide your pet with big aquarium these four by my opinion are your best option. My personal recommendation is Musk turtle because of their small size and fact that they are aquatic turtle that stays mostly in water with little need for dry area (this simplifies things when building aquarium for turtle). Like any other turtle they need a small basking space and a spotlight around 40W, also a 20 Gallon aquarium will be enough for them.

Now if you decide you have enough space to purchase a large tank these are some more popular turtles that are small in pet shops but will grow big in time:


  • Wood Turtle (Glyptemys Insculpta)
  • Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys Scripta Elegans)
  • Yellow-Bellied Slider (Trachemys Scripta Scripta)
  • Map Turtle (Graptemys Geographica)
  • Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene Carolina Carolina)


Red-Eared Slider is most commonly bought turtle in pet shops. This poor fellows are sold very small and when their new owners realize that they quickly outgrow those small aquariums they usually get released in rivers and lakes which is of course a terrible mistake. Just for information when slider grows his recommended aquarium size is 120 Gallons! Rarely any beginner turtle owner ca have that big aquarium in their home.

So now you know turtle to buy and what to avoid. Research some more and give that little fellow a nice life!

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