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Different Sea/Aquatic & Land Turtles That Stay Small

A small turtle can indeed be quite cute and something you would adore. As they grow older, you tend to find them not so attractive. Of course, they will continue to be your beloved pets, and your love for them would not diminish. But, still, you would be nostalgic about the cute little turtle that it once was.

How about the pet turtles that stay small? If you love the pet turtles that stay small, it would be essential to look for a turtle that would not grow larger and stay small. Of course, dealers claim that turtles stay small if kept in a tank, but it remains the fact that there are a few turtles that stay small.

Types of Pet Turtles That Stay Small

The small turtles that do not grow larger are called by different names so that understanding them would be more comfortable. Some of the names would be miniature turtles, dollar turtles, quarter turtles, and dwarf turtles.

Do note that these are not the breeds, but the names used to identify the small turtles which stay small as they grow. Some of the turtles that stay small would include:

Sea Turtles

Also referred to as water turtles, they are not comfortable to handle. In fact, except for the red-eared turtles, none of them liked being handled. These are a wide range of sea turtles that stay small.

The Reeve’s Turtles are one of the most popular breeds in this category. They are calm and can prove to be an excellent option for keeping as pets. Yet another small water turtle that has grown popular is Painted Turtles. The females of the type grow to be larger, though. They need a high-quality diet.

A few other sea turtles that stay small would include Bog turtles, soft-shelled turtles, and Padloper tortoises.

Land Turtles

Land Turtles are those that prefer staying out of water most of the time. Of course, a turtle is an amphibian and lives both in water and land, but land turtles are so-called because they prefer not to stay in water except for when they need to eat.

One of the most common land turtles that stay small would be Mud turtles. They can prove to be an excellent option as a pet. They are called so because they hibernate in the mud. Spotted Turtles are another species of land turtles. The most widely known land turtle that stays small is Box Turtle. These are, in fact, two species of Box turtles. We shall give more details on that later.

Different Species of Sea/Aquatic Turtles That Stay Small

Having checked out the different types of turtle that stay small, we will now check out each of the species in more detail.

Musk Turtles

If you have a mud turtle and a Musk Turtle, differentiating between them may not be much easy. They do look almost similar. They can live in captivity for over 50 years. They would get longer by around 3 to 4 inches and stay that small forever. They can make one of the best pets as they do not need much attention. You should ideally find four categories and species of Musk turtles viz common, loggerhead, Razorback, and flattened.

Musk Turtle


The Looks
They have a brown or black shell. The shell is high domed in most of the cases. The head of the turtle has two yellow lines.
Where do they stay?
They can stay in a tank with 20 gallon capacity. Make sure that the water is clear enough. You would also need to have a good basking place for the turtle. You should also have a UV light and a heating light. That would help you ensure that they stay healthy.
What do they eat?
They would enjoy a wide range of insects, worms, crayfish, and aquatic nymphs. Mixing the pet food with chopped shrimps, insects, worms, and crickets would be a better option.

Terrapin Turtles

The Terrapin turtles are one of the oldest species of any animals on earth. They can be an excellent option as a pet, but may not be the suitable ones as pets, but may not be the best options for the beginners. They would need to be cared for. They are prone to shell diseases and fungal infections.

Terappin Turtle

The Looks
These turtles get larger by 5 inches. The female of the species can grow up to 7.5 inches in length. They have greyish to the black color shell. It has spots on the body, especially on the head, legs, and necks. They also have a white upper lip, which makes them look beautiful.
Where do they stay?
They can stay in a tank with 20 gallon capacity. Make sure that the water is clear enough. You would also need to have a good basking place for the turtle. You should also have a UV light and a heating light. That would help you ensure that they stay healthy.
What do they eat?
They would enjoy a wide range of insects, worms, crayfish, and aquatic nymphs. Mixing the pet food with chopped shrimps, insects, worms, and crickets would be a better option.

Reeve’s Turtle

The Reeve’s Turtle is seen primarily in Japan and China. They can live for up to 20 to 25 years. These sea turtles are also known as Chinese Pond Turtles.


The Looks
The Reeve’s Turtles can grow to up to 6 inches. However, males tend to be smaller than females. They have black to tanned color on their shell. The head and neck can consist of yellow broken lines. They also have three keeps on their body.
Where do they stay?
They would need a shallow water. This species can stay in a 15-gallon tank comfortably. These turtles are not great swimmers, and thus you would need to ensure that the water level is three times the length of the shell.
What do they eat?

You can offer pelleted turtle food to the Reeve’s Turtles. You should also ensure to provide leafy greens along with the processed food. Also, offer worms, insects, snails, and chopped fishes.

These few sea turtles shall grow in the initial stage of life and then stay small forever. They can be good pets when it comes to handling. With this, we saw what do these aquatic turtles eat and where do they stay.

Different Species of Land Turtles That Stay Small

While Turtles are found to be amphibian in nature and prefer to stay in the water most of the time, there are a few species of turtles that would want to stay on land. Let us check out a few land turtles that stay small forever.

Box Turtles

The Box Turtles are one of the most common varieties of pets. One of the most intriguing factors that they show is they can completely hide in their shell. That is precisely why they are called Box turtles.

Box Turtle

The Looks
The Box turtles do not grow more than six inches. You can find two sub species among the Box Turtles viz ornate box turtle and the eastern box turtle. Both these sub species stay small forever. One of the unique characteristics these turtles exhibit is they do not have webbed feet. They also have a high dome-shaped shell.
Where do they stay?
Box turtles are land species, and as such, they do not need water to stay. You can provide them with a wading pool or a similar experience. They can either be provided an indoor or outdoor habitat. You can create a substrate with items such as the leaf, potting soil, sphagnum moss, and sand. Keep this arrangement moist at all times. A dry environment may be harmful to them.
What do they eat?
They can consume a lot of food types. Box Turtles are omnivorous and can be fed insects, worms, snails, green leafy vegetables, and fruits. Make sure that you have not kept the food inside the habitat so that it remains clean.

Spotted Turtles

Once again, they are not wholly aquatic in nature. Though not complete land-dwellers like Box Turtles, they tend to be semi-aquatic in terms of their habitat. They are named spotted turtles because of the yellow spots on their body.

Spotted Turtle

The Looks
They would be able to grow 3.5 to 5 inches long and stay that long throughout their life. They do have yellow spots on their shells, head, legs, and neck. They do have a completely black body and the spots that we just referred to. Females tend to have more spots than males. They have a smooth shell.
Where do they stay?
They would be able to live comfortably in a 50 gallon tank. Make sure you have provided a habitat where you have both land and water. You do need to provide them with a good basking spot. You will also need to provide them with a powerful filtration. Do note that they would need extremely clean water. Also, ensure that you have used a heat lamp and a UVB lamp in the tank.
What do they eat?
The spotted turtles are omnivorous, and you should be able to feed them just like the Box Turtles. They can be fed with both plant materials as well as animal foods. You can feed them with algae, some aquatic vegetation, insects, worms, slugs, and tadpoles. While they would be well off with pet food, it would be a good idea to feed live food as well to ensure that they get a good protein intake.

Mud Turtles

The Mud Turtles would be an incredibly excellent choice as pets. They are much smaller and prefer to hibernate in the mud. That is why they are called Mud Turtles. They can live for up to 40 to 50 years. They are typically found in Africa and Northern America.

Mud Turtle

The Looks

There are two types of Mud Turtles – Common Mud Turtles and Striped Mud turtles. They can grow to up to 4 to 5 inches long. The other two subspecies Yellow and Sonoran mud turtles can grow to up to 6 inches. They can have a dark brown to an olive shell. They have only 11 plates on the shell. The lower shell is yellowish in color.

Where do they stay?
They would need very small tanks. You should provide enough space for swimming. They would also need to have a basking place for drying themselves off. They prefer hibernating in mud, but you need not provide such an environment for them. If you can control the temperature, they would not need to go into hibernation.
What do they eat?
These turtles are omnivorous. They would consume snails, fishes, worms, insects, and other similar protein-rich food items. You can also provide them with commercial food items. You would, however, need to supplement commercial food with live food and leafy vegetables. You can also feed them with dandelion, parsley, and lettuce.

These few species of land turtles stay small and are easy to handle.

Do Turtles Stay Small in A Small Tank?

Well, that is precisely what the turtle dealers want you to believe. However, there is no truth in this, and it is a complete myth.

In fact, you need to arrange a tank as per the requirement of a turtle than the other way round. There is a myth is circulated since ages that the size of the tank would limit the size to which a turtle can grow. No matter what size of the tank you have opted for, the turtle will grow to a length and size that its species is known to.

Ideally speaking, you need to opt for a tank that has size four times that of the size of the shell. It would mean if you are buying a turtle with a 4 inches shell, you would need to buy a tank of 40-gallon capacity.

Well, this was all about the different turtle that stays small forever. Now, let us see a few turtles that don’t stay small.

The Turtles That Don’t Stay Small?

Just like the turtles that stay small, there are a few others that grow to be too big. In case you are planning to buy a turtle that stays small, it would be essential to consider having enough knowledge about the turtles that do not stay small.

Some of the turtles that belong to this category can include:

Red-Eared Slider

They are quite common pets in the United States. Healthy full-grown Red-Eared sliders can grow to up to 12 inches. They would live for around 60 years and have been fully aquatic in nature. Within the US, they are found in areas such as Mexico and the Caribbean.

Map Turtles

Map turtles are found in the region around the Gulf of Mexico. They can also be found in areas of up to Quebec. They can grow to a size of up to 10.5 inches. The males, however, can grow only up to 6 inches.

Painted Turtle

The Western Painted Turtle is found in almost every region in Northern America. They are called painted turtles because of the unique coloration that they come with. However, these turtles are quite affordable. They can grow to a length of up to 8 inches long. The eastern and midland varieties of painted turtles typically get to a length of around 7 inches.

Wood Turtle

The wood turtles can reach a length of up to 8 inches. They have been observed to be the best pets. In fact, these turtles are found to be quite tame and very friendly. However, these turtles are being observed to be quite rare and expensive.

These were a few turtles that do not stay small. Further, let us see why are small turtles good pets.

Recommended Reading – How to Take Care of The Turtle Eggs At Home?

Why Are Small Turtles Good Pets?

Well, for obvious reasons. They tend to be extremely adorable and cute. In fact, the Small turtles can definitely be considered to be cuteness personified. They do not need huge tanks and breeding areas. These small turtles would be one of the prime options for keeping in a small home or an apartment.

When you compare them to the larger sized counterparts, the small turtles can be taken care of easily. Of course, they do need to be cared for, but not as much as the larger ones. They can be kept in a glass aquarium with ease, unlike the regular sized turtles which need a special aquarium built for them.

The small turtles are not much demanding in nature. Handling and taking care of them would be an easier task. With this we shall conclude the article.

Conclusion on The Turtles That Stay Small

Well, that was all about the turtles that stay small and can indeed prove to be an excellent pet. Among around 360 different species of turtles currently found, most of them do not reach huge sizes but can be considered to be an average-sized turtle. However, there are only a handful of species that stay small forever.

If you are planning to get a small turtle that won’t get bigger, the list of the best species featured above should be helpful enough. Which of them did you like? Do let us know.

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