Tails Blog

Choosing a turtle for a pet

Steve Coppell - Tuesday, July 27, 2010

So your thinking of keeping a turtle for a pet.
It's a big commitment. Turtles live for around 30 years in captivity, so take this into consideration before you make the dicision to go ahead.

Selecting a healthy turtle
How do you know whether a turtle is healthy or not?
If you are buying a turtle from a pet shop, ask to see the turtle being fed. A healthy turtle will swim level and not lop sided. The turtle will feed heartily and quickly, especially if there are other turtles in the tank.
Ask to hold the turtle. If you are not sure how to handle the turtle ask for advise from the assistant.A healthy turtle should be very active and continually trying to escape from its holder.
Check that the eyes are clear and are not puffy and half closed.
Check the shell for injuries. An adult turtle's shell will be very hard and won't flex when pressure is applied. Be sure not to apply forceful pressure if the turtle is a young hatchling. Hatchling shells won't harden  until a size of around 10 cm is reached. If the turtle you are inspecting has deep soft pitting in the shell or raw looking injuries around the edge of the shell, then I would recommend strongly against purchasing it. It could be a disease called shell.
Key points
1/Feeds heartily
2/Swims level
3/The turtle is very active and not lethargic.
4/Eyes look clear and bright. Not half closed and puffy.
5/The shell is firm and free of injuries and soft raw spots.

Info courtesy of Chris @ Hot House Turtles