There are many sea turtle species in the world, but only a few of them are tiny. These tiny pet turtles stay small and are very adorable and cute. They’re great for keeping in small homes and apartments since they don’t require a lot of space like the regular turtles. They’re also very easy to maintain and are easy to handle.
Although these turtles are small, they still need regular care and your love and attention like any other pet. You need to maintain their tanks regularly because they’re generally messy animals and they make their water dirty quickly. Also, feed your small turtle at least 4-5 times a week, but don’t overfeed it. Many benefits come with having the smallest turtle including the fact that you can keep more than one in a single tank and they won’t outgrow their enclosure quickly.
Smallest turtles that stay small forever
These turtles are great for having as a pet and they only grow 3-5 inches long so they don’t need a large turtle tank. If properly taken care of they can live in captivity for 45 to 50 years. They like living in the muddy bottoms of small ponds and are mostly found in Africa and parts of North America. These turtles look very similar to the musk turtles, but they have flatter carapaces. Their shell has a dark brown to olive color with a smooth texture and it only has 11 plates unlike most of the other turtles. The plastron has a yellow color.
Despite mud turtles being cute, they’re not always docile. If they feel stressed or provoked, they can use their curved beak to bite your fingers. Although they’re named after mud, these turtles don’t like spending much of their time on land, they like to hibernate by digging in the mud.That doesn’t mean they need a muddy enclosure, you can control the temperature in the enclosure so the turtle doesn’t hibernate. Keep the water temperatures between 70-80 degrees and use a basking lamp to provide heat for basking and a UVB light.
They’re generally carnivorous and they feed on worms, amphibians, mollusks, fish, crustaceans, and any animal smaller than they are. In captivity, feed that good quality commercial food and also include some leafy greens like lettuce, dandelion, and parsley. Also, dust their food with a calcium supplement at least once a week.
These turtles are similar to mud turtles in both their appearance and nature. Their needs are also identical. They grow to about 3-4 inches and are relatively easy to take care of and can live up to 50 years in captivity. The males are a bit larger than the females. They have a distinctively black and high domed shell with black heads and a yellow stripe starting from their nose down to their necks. Their high doomed shell has a black to brown color with 2 yellow parallel lines from their heads down to their necks.
Musk turtles can be feisty and may bite you when handled. They’re known as the stinkpot because of the foul odor they produce when they feel threatened or scared. These small turtles can thrive in a modest tank with a heat lamp and a basking platform although musk turtles hardly ever bask. They also need clean clear water at all times and a UVB light for the turtle’s healthy growth.
In the wild, the musk turtle likes to eat crayfish, insects, worms, and other aquatic nymphs, but in captivity, you can feed them quality commercial food and include worms, chopped shrimp, crickets, and insects.
Terrapin turtles are among the oldest animal species on earth and the diamondback terrapin is a great pet but not for beginners. These turtles need extra care and attention because they’re more prone to shell diseases and other fungal infections. They only grow up to 5 inches long, but the females can grow up to 7.5 inches. Their physical appearance is very striking with a grayish-black shell with spots or streaks on their entire body, especially their head, necks, and legs. They also have a white upper lip which is a very rare feature in turtles.
These turtles can live happily in a 70-gallon tank that has an efficient filtration system, a basking spot, and a proper lighting system with a heat lamp and UVB light to help your turtle synthesize vitamin D3. Crushed corals will make the best substrate for these turtles.
Diamondback terrapins aren’t very good hunters so avoid feeding them live feeder fish, but fishes, insects, snails, and worms are good to live foods. You can also include quality commercial turtle food. Feed them only once a day and in just 15 minutes they will have eaten the amount they need.
This tiny turtle is very popular in the U.S and it only grows up to 4.5 inches long. Its also listed as a protected species in the U.S. These semi-aquatic turtles love low-lying, marshy, and still watered areas, but with urban development, their habitat is getting eroded pushing them into drier areas out of their native environment making them more vulnerable to getting eaten, maimed, or killed.
You can place two of these turtles in a 40-gallon tank, but give them enough space as possible. You can easily recognize these turtles from their orange or yellow splotches on either side of their temples and a dark brown or black shell with red or brown streaks. Ensure you provide enough clean water regularly and heated to between 65-75 degrees F. with the basking spot having temperatures of between 85-90 degrees F.
Bog turtles are very hardy, adaptable, and can eat everything including both plants and animals. Ensure their diet includes proteins like worms and insects, veggies like leafy greens, and fruits like strawberries to ensure your turtle stays healthy.
This turtle is also called the Chinese Pond turtle because it’s from Asia in japan and china. They can grow up to 6 inches long and the females tend to be bigger than the males. With proper care, they can live for about 20-25 years in captivity. They like water that is slow-moving or still so you will mostly find them in the wild in marshes, swamps, and even flooded rice paddies. However, the odd thing about these turtles is that they aren’t very good swimmers, so they will do better in shallow waters that are about 9 inches deep. Their shell has a black to tan color with 3 keels from the front to back and some broken yellow lines on their heads and necks.
These turtles require a bit of space because they aren’t as small as other small turtles and they’re very active. They need a 50-gallon tank, a basking area of about 85-95 degrees F. because they like to sunbathe, an ambient temperature of between 75-85 degrees F., water with a temperature of 70-80 degrees F., a shady area to cool off, and hiding places. Both the males and females have some territorial aggression but they don’t usually inflict any damage so you should house them individually and have they don’t like to be handled.
Reeve’s turtles can eat pelleted turtle food with some leafy green veggies and some protein like worms, snails, chopped fish, and insects to ensure they eat a balanced diet.
These are very common pets and unlike other pet turtles, the box turtles can hide completely inside their shell which makes them look like a box, hence their name. They don’t have completely webbed feet so they aren’t very good swimmers. They don’t grow more than 6 inches long and the 2 subspecies of the box turtle, the ornate box turtle, and eastern box turtle stay small even as adults. They have high domed shells with a deep brown color and varying patterns of orange and yellow.
This turtle species is more difficult to take care of. Some of the subspecies have varying setup requirements as some will thrive in high humidity, others in moderate temperatures, while others prefer blackish water. However, they don’t need an aquatic environment to thrive, they are mostly land dwellers, but you’ll need to provide them with a wading pool. You can choose to either keep your box turtle indoor or outdoor with a good substrate like sphagnum moss, potting soil, or sand or mist it regularly to create a humid environment. Place some hiding spots in the enclosure where your turtle can relax or hide when nervous or shy. Also include fresh clean water regularly, UVB light indoors, and a heating lamp for basking.
Box turtles can eat a variety of foods but they’re generally omnivorous. For their balanced diet, you should provide them with proteins like crickets, worms, insects, or snails, greens like dandelions, leafy salads, or clover, and some fruits like apples or berries as treats. Box turtles defecate in their water, so change the water regularly to keep it clean and fresh for drinking.
Theseturtles are commonly found around Michigan with their natural habitat around the eastern coast of the U.S. These semi-aquatic turtles only grow to about 5 inches by adulthood. You can easily identify them by the yellow polka dots on their shells, heads, necks, and legs. The rest of their body is black. These spots fade as the turtles grow older to a yellow hue, and some spotted turtles don’t even have spots. They also have a black or brown wide and smooth carapace that makes these turtles very attractive.
These turtles adapt very well to living in captivity which makes them great pets to have in your home. Being semi-aquatic means they need some dry areas in their enclosure and a 20 or 50-gallon tank will provide enough room for your turtle to move around. The water part of the tank should be about 3-6 inches deep with water with temperatures of between 75-85 degrees F. the basking area should have temperatures of not more than 88 degrees F., and ambient temps of between 82-86 degrees F.
These spotted turtles can eat a wide variety of foods that include crickets, worms, chopped fish, pink baby mice, and even commercial turtle food.
Southern painted turtles
These turtles are the smallest of the painted turtle species and they make a perfect choice for a small turtle pet. They’re very attractive turtles found in the central U.S. They’re known for being lower to maintain and more tamed than the other painted turtles. If properly taken care of these painted turtles don’t grow beyond 6 inches and can live to be 30-50 years. These painted turtles are typically darker in color ranging from dark green to black with a yellow stripped head and a bright red dorsal stripe.
They require enough space like a 40-gallon tank that is large enough for a male. However, painted turtles can live in harmony with other turtles in their species and other small aquatic turtles. They also need a basking spot, a heat lamp, and UVB light to help in synthesizing vitamin D3 in their bodies. Painted turtles are very sociable turtles but they don’t like being handled.
Painted turtles can feed on leafy greens like dandelion green, romaine lettuce, and fresh parsley, aquatic plants like water hyacinth and water lettuce, and even commercial turtle food to provide them with all the nutrients their bodies require.
Turtles that don’t stay small
Red-eared slider turtles
This is a widely popular pet turtle in the U.S and they came from Texas and Mexico. The red-eared slider is a fully aquatic turtle and they don’t need a place to bask in their habitat. They’re popular because of the red marks on both sides of their head around their ears and that’s how they go their name. These water turtles can grow to a length of between 6-12 inches with the females being bigger than the males.
These turtles need a large indoor aquarium to give them enough space, UVB light, and a basking spot with a heat lamp. Just like other semi-aquatic turtles, the red-eared turtles like to bask frequently, they’re strong swimmers and don’t like being handled.
They’re omnivorous turtles but the adults tend to be herbivorous. They can eat freeze-dried krill, edible aquatic plants like duckweed, water lettuce, and anacharis, commercial turtle food, and leafy greens like flowers, squash, collard greens, and dandelions.
These turtles are among the most popular small turtles that are kept as pets. Map turtles love being in moving water and this makes them strong swimmers and in the wild, you will find them mostly in lakes, streams, and rivers. You can easily recognize them from the map-shaped markings on their shells, head, and limbs, and that’s where they got their name. In captivity, the females can grow to a length of about 10 inches.
Map turtles require an aquarium with enough space, a basking spot, an aquarium heater to heat the water to the right temperatures, and UVB lights.
These turtles can eat commercial turtle food and supplement it with leafy greens high in calcium and fiber and also include low-fat animal protein like insects.
Although these turtles aren’t as large as the red-eared turtles, they can grow to about 8 inches in length. They’re originally from Costa Rica and Mexico and they’re said to be very tamed and friendly. They have a shell that has a brown to a tan color and red or yellow legs. Unfortunately, this turtle species has become very rare and this has made it very pricey.
Western painted turtles
Just like all the other painted turtle species, the western painted turtles also have a very striking physical appearance. Their attractive coloration makes them cute pets that are low maintenance to have for your kids. These painted turtles can grow up to 10 inches long. They’re the largest of the painted turtle species and they have bright yellow stripes on their heads and orange-red underbellies and an occasional dorsal stripe. Their shells are dark green to olive.
Benefits of having the smallest turtles
Apart from being adorable, there are many benefits of owning the smallest turtles.
- Overall there is less work involved since you’ll only need to feed your turtle after every 2 or 3 days, there will be zero to minimal substrate to clean, and you’ll only need to clean the filtration system once a week.
- Small turtles aren’t very expensive to buy. You also won’t need a large turtle tank or an expansive filtration system like you would for a large turtle.
- Turtles need a balanced diet and because they can eat a variety of foods, it can be easier to feed them after consulting their vet and doing some research.
Turtles are very unique creatures that are lots of fun to have in your home. The smallest turtles are the best since they won’t occupy a lot of space and cleaning after them is quick and simple. If you don’t want to have an aquarium in your home, you can get a box turtle that can occupy an outdoor enclosure. Although turtles aren’t as demanding as other pets, they also need your love and attention but avoid handling them too much as it can cause them to get stressed and this can affect their health. Remember small doesn’t necessarily equate to being easy. The smallest turtles may be more sensitive to their diet, setup, or routine than larger turtles.