Mini turtles refers to smaller breeds of freshwater and terrestrial Chelonian (turtles, tortoises and terrapins) that are popular as domestic pets. These can be small enough to keep indoors in small terrariums similar to fish tanks or large enough to wonder around the back yard. Turtles are normally very slow growing so you can keep them as small indoor pets for quite some time. In Australia the younger and smaller the turtle is the more popular it is with enthusiasts. Thus the price is also quite a bit higher than the older larger turtles. Baby turtles are often purchased to keep in small fish bowl type enclosures in children’s rooms and once they grow bigger are often returned to the pet shop or relocated to an outdoor pond. Occasionally they are released into the wild which can create issues for the environment.
It is important to note that although mini turtles won’t grow to the size of a leatherback sea turtle or galapagos tortoise they will eventually outgrow the palm of your hand and their small indoor tank. Serious consideration should be given to rehousing options for older turtles prior to committing to adopting baby turtles.
Tortoise turtle or terrapin? All are commonly referred to as turtles by the layperson and as Chelonian by veterinarians scientists and conservationists and all contain species suitable as mini turtle pets. Depending on where in the world you are you may use different names for these reptiles. Generally turtles are aquatic – either marine or fresh water and tortoises are land dwelling or terrestrial. Turtles that are marine dwellers usually have flippers instead of legs. An exception to this is the Pig-Nosed turtle which is a fresh water turtle with flippers. Turtles that live in fresh water generally have webbed feet often with long claws. The long claws are useful for pulling themselves out of the water to enjoy a bit of basking. Tortoises on the other hand have short sturdy feet. In some countries terrapins are a name given to fresh and brackish water dwelling Chelonian.
As pets mini turtles can be very entertaining and fun to watch. Depending on the breed of turtle, how it was raised and the individual turtles’ personality they can also become responsive and interact with their owners. Some will even come when called. See video of Taco the turtle coming when called.
Different countries and states have varying laws and regulations regarding the domestication of turtles. Usually endangered and protected species are not permitted to be kept as pets. Other species cannot be taken from the wild but must have been bred in captivity. Invasive species which are not native to a region may also be prohibited to avoid the risk of them being released into the wild. Sometimes it is necessary to obtain a licence before you are permitted to own a pet turtle.