Types Of Pet Turtles And Tortoises

Choosing a pet turtle or tortoise will take a few considerations. 

How much indoor or outdoor space do you have to devote to an enclosure or tank? 

What are you comfortable feeding a reptile pet? 

Are your outdoor temperatures high enough to support a turtle or tortoise for part of the year, if not year-round? 

Do you want to handle or interact with your pet frequently, or would you prefer a display turtle or tortoise? 

What are your budget for a pet and everything it needs? 

What is your level of experience when caring for pet reptiles?

Whatever your answers to these questions may be, we have a turtle or tortoise species on this list which is right for you. 

We have compiled a list of common species of both turtles and tortoises currently in the pet market. 

For each type, we have included information about their native habitats, enclosure needs, diet, and behavior, and temperament. 

We have also included a bullet list for each species’ adult size, lifespan, and average cost.

types of pet turtles and tortoises

Some Important Reminders

The cost listed only applies to the initial cost of buying or adopting a turtle or tortoise. 

They do not include setup costs for an enclosure, heating and lighting bills, regular food costs, and vet visits.

When searching for a new reptile pet, we always recommend going to trustworthy sources. 

Look for highly-recommended reptile breeders or reptile-focused pet stores first. 

This will make it more likely you buy or adopt a healthy, captive, and well-bred specimen. 

There are many reptile-focused pet rescue organizations throughout the United States, which may be another option for you. 

The rescue has the added benefit of giving an abandoned pet turtle or tortoise a second chance at a better life.

We always recommend buying or adopting a captive-bred turtle or tortoise instead of a wild-caught one. 

Captive-bred specimens are less likely to be stressed by living in an enclosure and with humans than wild-caught specimens. 

Buying from a captive breeding population also puts less pressure on wild turtle and tortoise populations, which may be under threat.

Most turtles and tortoises do best in outdoor enclosures, though many adjust to being housed indoors. 

If your outdoor temperatures are suitable, we highly recommend building a secure outdoor pen or enclosure for your turtle or tortoise pets.

Make sure to do complete research on what types of enclosures are best, proper lighting setup, and diet before committing to a species. 

Different species of turtle and tortoise have other care and husbandry needs.

Turtles

Most turtle species are either aquatic or semi-aquatic. 

This means most species will need a swimming area in their enclosures, whether indoors or outdoors. 

Box turtles are a different subgroup, and while they have webbed feet like their aquatic relatives, they tend to spend most of their adult lives on land.

Unlike tortoises, which are herbivorous or vegetarian usually, turtles are omnivorous eaters. 

Most will eat a mix of plant and animal matter. 

Pellets with extra vitamin and mineral supplementation are available commercially for nutritional balance.

Pet turtles, as a rule, are generally stressed out by handling or being picked up. 

We recommend you only handle a turtle when absolutely necessary.

African Sideneck Turtle (AKA African Helmeted Turtle)

Pelomedusa subrufa

Scientific NamePelomedusa subrufa

These unique turtles are native to Subsaharan Africa and Yemen. 

They have gray heads and legs, with flattened brown carapaces. 

Since they cannot retract their heads and legs entirely into their shells, they tuck them to the side instead, hence their name.

If housing an African side neck turtle, make sure you have an excellent UVA and UVB setup. 

They will need pristine water in a place big enough to swim and dive. 

They do better in a larger tank or outdoor enclosure.

In general, they have more complicated care and husbandry requirements than most turtles.

These turtles tend to be prone to vitamin A and D3 deficiencies, so it is essential to feed them a varied diet. 

They will eat a mix of plant matter, insects, fish, crustaceans, and supplementary aquatic turtle pellets.

Though they may bite when handled, African side neck turtles tend to be more curious and interact more with their keepers than other turtles. 

Once they are used to your presence and adjusted to their enclosure, they might actually come out of hiding to observe and hang out with you.

  • Adult Size: 6-9″ inches (15-23 centimeters)
  • Lifespan: up to 50 years, sometimes older
  • Average Cost: 50-100 USD

Common Box Turtle

common box turtle

Scientific NameTerrapene Carolina, the family, contains six subspecies

As a family, box turtles have habitats stretching from most of the United States into Mexico and come into Canada. 

We have also included the Eastern box turtle on this list, but other subspecies include the Florida box turtle, the Gulf Coast box turtle, and the three-toed box turtle. 

Box turtles are named for their hinged plastrons and high domed carapaces. 

When threatened, they entirely retreat into their carapaces, which close behind them.

Keep all box turtles on a moisture-retaining substrate, as they do best in humid environments. 

If indoors, a well-ventilated wooden vivarium will help retain enough heat to keep a box turtle happy and healthy. 

These also do well in large outdoor enclosures. 

If you house more than once in the same enclosure, make sure to give each enough space.

Box turtles are omnivorous eaters. 

Feed them a mix of live feeder insects and appropriate vegetation. 

Supplement their nutrition with a powdered calcium supplement.

These are hardy reptiles with engaging and different personalities, making them popular among turtle keepers. 

However, many wild populations are currently under threat due to habitat loss and unethical and illegal pet trades. 

Make sure to check if your state or county allows keeping box turtles as pets before committing to one, and make sure any individuals you purchase are from reputable captive breeders.

  • Adult Size: 4-7” in (10-18 cm)
  • Lifespan: 20-40 years
  • Average Cost: 25-50 USD

Common Musk Turtle (AKA Stinkpot)

common musk turtle

Scientific NameSternotherus odoratus

Common musk turtles are native to Eastern North America, with populations stretching as far west as Texas in the South and Wisconsin in the North. 

They have a highly domed carapace and keel, though their keels tend to flatten out in adulthood. 

They are usually black and brown in color all over their bodies.

Since these turtles are not strong swimmers, the water in their enclosures should not be too deep. 

They like basking and definitely need a UVB light in their enclosures. 

Keep the basking spot at 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° degrees Celsius), with an ambient temperature at 80-85° degrees Fahrenheit (27-29° degrees Celsius).

Feed common musk turtles, earthworms, cut up fish and shrimp, crickets, and bloodworms. 

Though they will eat commercial turtle pellets or freshwater turtle diet food, make sure to supplement it with fresh foods.

They may be small, but common musk turtles are feisty and more of a hands-off display pet. 

They get the name “stinkpot” from their ability to release a foul, musky odor when threatened or handled excessively, like a skunk.

  • Adult Size: 3-5” in (8-13 cm)
  • Lifespan: 50 years or more
  • Average Cost: 20-60 USD

Diamondback Terrapin

Diamondback Terrapin

Scientific NameMalaclemys terrapin

Diamondback terrapins, which are Maryland’s state reptile, are native to coastal tidal marshes of the Eastern United States, with a small population in Bermuda. 

The seven subspecies of diamondback terrapin are named for their diamond-patterned carapaces.

Unlike other aquatic turtles, these live in partially salted water, not freshwater. 

If you commit to diamondback terrapins, make sure to keep their swimming areas salted and well-filtered. 

These are social turtles which live in family groups in the wild, so you will want to invest in more than one of them. 

They do best in a 75-gallon tank or larger if housed indoors. 

They will pile on top of each other on the best basking rocks, so make sure to provide multiple.

Diamondback terrapins primarily eat meat with some aquatic plants mixed in.

Feed them turtle pellets with sides of shrimp, smelt, and other appropriate seafood.

These are popular turtle pets since they are docile and okay with handling. 

They still may bite when threatened. 

Wild populations are under several environmental and legal protections, which makes it especially important for you to seek out captive-bred individuals for purchase. 

Also, check with your local DNR’s rules and regulations for reptile pet ownership to make sure it is legal to own diamondback terrapins in your state.

  • Adult Size: 5-8″ in (13-20 cm), females bigger than males
  • Lifespan: 25-40 years
  • Average Cost: 250-500 USD

Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern Box Turtle

Scientific NameTerrapene Carolina Carolina

Eastern box turtles mainly live on the East coast of the United States, with some populations in Texas. 

They prefer deciduous forests as habitats. 

Like most box turtles, they have a high domed carapace, which is brownish-black with yellow to orange markings.

These are among the more adaptable species of turtle, as they successfully live either indoors or outdoors as pets. 

Make sure to provide a shallow pool of water for swimming. 

They do best in humid enclosures, so make sure to use a moisture-retaining substrate and provide adequate heat and UVB radiation.

All box turtles are omnivores. 

Feed Eastern box turtles a mix of fruits, veggies, dark leafy greens, and live feeder insects.

These are shy turtles, but they tend not to be aggressive. 

Once they are used to you, they may be more open to interacting with you, especially when you have food for them.

  • Adult Size: 5-7″ in (13-18 cm)
  • Lifespan: 30-40 years
  • Average Cost: 50-300 USD depending on age

Mississippi Map Turtle

Mississippi Map Turtle

Scientific NameGraptemys pseudogeographica kohni

Mississipi map turtles, also called sawbacks, are endemic to the Central or Midwest United States. 

They have a distinctive dorsal fin on the back of their carapace. 

They are also smaller than most pet turtles.

Since these are small turtles, they won’t need a big enclosure. 

Provide them with plenty of places to hide and destress in their habitats. 

A swimming area is vital.

Mississippi map turtles will eat turtle pellets, live feeder insects, and dark leafy greens in captivity.

These turtles are more of a hands-off pet. 

Handling will cause them stress, and they tend to be more cautious and afraid around humans than other species. 

However, they do tend to be hardy with fewer health issues.

  • Adult Size: 5-10″ in (13-25 cm), females tend to be larger than males
  • Lifespan: 30 years or more
  • Average Cost: 25 USD

Red Eared Slider (Has Many Other Common Names)

red eared slider

Scientific NameTrachemys scripta elegans

Red-eared sliders are native to warm climates in the Southeastern United States, though there are isolated populations out west in Colorado. 

Generally, they have green carapaces with a variety of markings, along with red stripes on their ears. 

There is some sexual dimorphism, with females having shorter claws than males, and males and females have different markings on the undersides of their carapaces.

Like all turtles, red-eared sliders do better in outdoor enclosures if possible, even for part of the year. 

Absolutely include a swimming pool or pond in any enclosure with a sound water filtration system. 

These turtles need to bask frequently, so make sure they have a basking spot and a working UV light. 

Feed red-eared sliders a mix of vegetables, leafy greens, earthworms, insects, and aquatic snails and plants.

These turtles tend to be more friendly and sociable than others in the pet trade. 

This makes them a popular aquatic turtle species. 

They do, however, tend to be messy.

United States federal law bans the sale of red-eared sliders under 4″ inches (10 cm) in length as well as red slider eggs. 

You will most likely not be able to buy a hatchling or baby turtle.

  • Adult Size: About 12″ inches (30 centimeters), females are usually larger than males
  • Lifespan: 20-30 years, may surpass 50 under the right conditions and with the proper diet
  • Average Cost: 20 USD

Reeve’s Turtle (AKA Chinese Pond Turtle)

mauremys reevesii

Scientific NameMauremys reevesii

Reeve’s turtles are endemic to areas of Asia, including in China, North and South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. 

They have a brown or black carapace and unique eyes.

They have similar care requirements to a red-eared slider, though they are smaller and won’t need as large of an enclosure. 

They are a species which does better in groups, so you will probably want to invest in more than one. 

Reeve’s turtles appreciate multiple basking spots, especially if you are housing multiple in the same enclosure.

Reeve’s turtles are not picky eaters. 

They do well on a diet of commercial turtle pellets supplemented with leafy greens and the occasional live feeder insect.

These are friendly turtles and can even be tamed to tolerate petting and handling. 

However, they do have a shorter life expectancy than most turtles on our list.

  • Adult Size: 6-9” in (15-23 cm)
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Average Cost: 75 USD

Spotted Turtle

Spotted Turtle

Scientific NameClemmys guttata

Spotted turtles are small turtles native to Southern Canada, the Eastern United States, the Eastern Great Lakes area, and the Appalachian Mountains. 

They have a distinctive dark-colored shell with tiny yellow spots. 

Females have red chins while male turtles have black.

These turtles are not particularly strong swimmers, so the smaller swimming area in their enclosures should be shallow. 

Like most turtles, spotted thrive much better in a suitable outdoor enclosure than indoors. 

Their enclosures should have basking spots, ornamental plants, and hides. 

They have slightly more complex care requirements than other turtle species.

Spotted turtles eat a few varieties of meat, including shrimp, crickets, earthworms, and the occasional piece of cooked beef. 

Supplement their protein with leafy greens and safe fruit.

Spotted turtles become stressed if handled too frequently. 

This is also an endangered species in the wild. 

We urge you to go to a reputable spotted turtle breeder or rescue organization to limit the chances of buying a wild-caught one.

  • Adult Size: 4-6″ in (10-15 cm)
  • Lifespan: Often over 50 years, some specimens have lived up to 100 years in captivity
  • Average Cost: 75-95 USD

Western Painted Turtle

Chrysemys picta bellii

Scientific NameChrysemys picta bellii

Western painted turtles are native to the West of Canada down into the Central United States. 

They have detailed and distinctive shell markings and yellow stripes on their heads and legs.

These turtles have similar care needs to red-eared sliders. 

They especially need a good water filtration system in their swimming pools. 

They frequently bask, so make sure to include spots in their enclosures. 

They also have a habit of eating while swimming. 

Give them food which is easy to lift out of their swimming area if they don’t eat it.

Like most turtles, western painteds are omnivorous eaters. 

Feed them a mix of aquatic plants, animals, and insects. 

We recommend supplementing with aquatic turtle pellets for balanced nutrition.

This is a shy species of turtle and will definitely not enjoy frequent handling. 

Western painted turtles are more of a display and hands-off pet.

  • Adult Size: up to 10″ in (25 cm)
  • Lifespan: 50 years or more
  • Average Cost: 30-60 USD

Wood Turtle

Glyptemys insculpta

Scientific NameGlyptemys insculpta

Wood turtles are entirely endemic to North America. 

They have orange patches on their skin, with dark-colored carapaces.

These are terrestrial turtles, not aquatic. 

Though they need fresh drinking water, they should not need a swimming area, and they could drown in a pool. 

Like all turtles, they do much better in an outdoor environment.

Wood turtles will need a high-protein diet supplemented by dark leafy greens like kale and collard greens.

These are popular pet turtles due to their easier care requirements, their hardy natures, and their friendly dispositions. 

Owners have been able to tame them to accept and enjoy handling. 

They are, however, an endangered species. 

Make sure you buy only captive-bred wood turtles. 

We also recommend checking your local environmental and animal regulations for turtle pet ownership before committing to a wood turtle.

  • Adult Size: 5-8” in (13-20 cm)
  • Lifespan: Up to 50 years
  • Average Cost: 50-250 USD

Yellow-Bellied Slider

Trachemys scripta scripta

Scientific NameTrachemys scripta scripta

Yellow-bellied sliders are native to the southeastern United States, from Virginia all the way down to Florida. 

They are named for their yellow or orange bellies and stripes on their heads and legs.

We recommend a larger tank or outdoor enclosure for this species. 

They will also need basking spots in their enclosures or indoor vivariums.

You will need a variety of both plant and animal matter to feed yellow-bellied sliders. 

Supplement aquatic turtle pellets with fresh leafy greens and live feeder insects. 

Generally, they should be eating more plant matter than meat.

Yellow-bellied sliders are popular as pets because of their engaging personalities and since they are more active and easily observable during the day. 

They will bite if feeling threatened, and handling does tend to cause them some stress. 

Since they are so popular, they tend to have regular availability among reputable turtle breeders. 

  • Adult Size: Males, 5-9” in (13-23 cm), females, 8-13” in (20-33 cm)
  • Lifespan: up to 40 years
  • Average cost: depending on age, 10-100 USD

Tortoises

Unlike turtles, tortoises tend to be herbivorous, terrestrial animals with elephant-like feet. 

They will usually not need a pond or swimming in their enclosures, though a shallow one may help provide mental stimulation on occasion. 

Like turtles, they will do best in large outdoor enclosures, especially since they tend to grow large.

All species of tortoises have decades of life expectancy. Some specimens have lived over a century.

What makes a tortoise such a huge commitment is your pet will most likely outlive you.

Some species of tortoises do much better in a group than alone. 

Depending on which one you want, you may want to invest in more than one tortoise.

Though tortoises tend to have friendly and gentle dispositions, frequent handling may still cause them stress. 

This especially applies to children, who have a greater tendency to drop a tortoise while handling. 

Handle all tortoises with care.

Greek Tortoise

Greek Tortoise

Scientific name: a few members of the family and subgroup Testudo graeca

Despite their common and scientific names, Greek tortoises primarily live in African habitats, though some populations may be found in Southern Europe and Southwest Asia. 

There are a few subspecies of Greek tortoise which often get confused with one another. 

These larger tortoises have carapaces in square patterns of ivory, tan, or brown, with black details.

Greek tortoises will need proper UVB lighting if you are keeping them indoors. 

Like most reptiles, tortoises in the wild usually get UVA and UVB lighting from exposure to sunlight. 

If possible, these tortoises do well in an outdoor enclosure at least 4′ feet long and 2′ feet wide (1.2 meters long by 0.6 meters wide).

Like most tortoises, Greek tortoises are primarily herbivorous. 

They eat a variety of greens, including collard greens, endive, parsley, and weeds. 

Make sure any vegetable you feed your pets is well-washed and free of pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides. 

Greek tortoises will also benefit from a calcium supplement. 

Many online retailers and pet stores sell cuttlefish bones for this purpose. 

Though they do not like handling or being picked up, Greek tortoises are an engaged, friendly, and intelligent group of reptiles. 

They are especially drawn to the people who give them food. 

Most likely, they will interact with you once they know you are their keeper. 

These are popular species of tortoises for a reason.

  • Adult Size: Up to 10″ in (25 cm)
  • Lifespan: Up to 50 years
  • Average Cost: 200 USD

Hermann’s Tortoise

Testudo hermanii

Scientific NameTestudo hermanii

These well-recognized tortoises are native to Mediterranean climates in Europe, including forests and rocky hillsides. 

Hermann’s tortoises have yellow and brown carapaces and strong legs. 

There are currently two recognized subspecies of Hermann’s tortoise, Eastern, and Western.

These are active tortoises which enjoy running, burrowing, and basking. 

More terrestrial space in an enclosure will be appreciated to facilitate movement. 

Include a burrowing substrate and a basking spot in an outdoor or indoor enclosure. 

Other additions for a Hermann’s tortoise enclosure include bushes, rocks, and a shallow pan of drinking water. 

Like most tortoises, they thrive much better in an outdoor enclosure than an indoor one. 

They may not be an option for you unless your outdoor climate is very similar to Mediterranean Europe.

In captivity, a Hermann’s tortoise will thrive on a diet of leafy greens and fiber-rich grasses and hays, with the addition of certain vegetables and fruits. 

Occasional treats of insects and slugs may provide extra protein.

Hermann’s tortoises are well known for their gentle temperaments. 

Their behavior and their smaller size make them popular among tortoise keepers. 

While it may bite, it only does this to defend itself.

  • Adult Size: 6-8″ in (15-20 cm)
  • Lifespan: up to 75 years, maybe more
  • Average Cost: 300-850 USD

Indian Star Tortoise

geochelone elegans

Scientific NameGeochelone elegans

These unique tortoises are native to dry areas and scrubland in India, Pakistan, and the island of Sri Lanka. 

They are named for distinct star-shaped patterning on their carapaces.

Although they are smaller tortoises, a larger enclosure is highly recommended. 

Like all tortoises and turtles, pet Indian star tortoises thrive better in an outdoor enclosure when and if possible. 

Indian star tortoises are not territorial and do well in groups of their own species. 

They are not climbers and do not dig to escape outdoor enclosures. 

If you choose Indian star tortoises, you will not have to worry about burying walls or rocks along enclosure walls to prevent escape.

Indian star tortoises do well on a diet of dark, leafy greens, grasses, and fibrous plants like timothy hay. 

Make sure their greens have a higher ratio of calcium to phosphorus, as metabolic bone disease may present a real problem for these tortoises.

Indian star tortoises tend to be a shyer species. 

They are also not as hardy as other species on this list, especially if their environments aren’t just right. 

Make sure their habitats are at the proper temperature and humidity levels to prevent health issues.

These are also a threatened species in the wild. 

As always, we recommend searching for a captive-bred specimen if possible.

  • Adult Size: 7-12” in (18-30 cm)
  • Lifespan: usually 30-55 years, some specimens have lived as long as 80
  • Average Cost: 550-4000 USD

Leopard Tortoise

Leopard Tortoise

Scientific NameStigmochelys pardalis, some subspecies

Leopard tortoises and their subspecies are native to the savannahs of Eastern and Southern Africa. 

They are the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world. 

They get their names from the distinctive spotted light and dark patterns on their domed carapaces.

Unlike other tortoises, they do not typically create burrows, preferring to take over those abandoned by other animals. 

You may still want to include a loose substrate for mental engagement. 

Leopard tortoises are not climbers either. 

Since they prefer semiarid environments in the wild, they will not have exceptionally high humidity needs. 

However, they need their temperatures hot year-round and have no cold tolerance. 

If you live in a cold climate and cannot house them outdoors even for part of the year, a leopard tortoise may not be for you.

Leopard tortoises eat mostly alfalfa and other high-fiber hays and grasses, with small amounts of other fiber-rich veggies. 

They usually graze throughout the day, so their enclosures should be set up to facilitate grazing. 

They also eat a lot.

Like most tortoises, leopard tortoises are gentle giants. 

They may occasionally bite, mostly if they mistake any part of you for food. 

When threatened, they have a tendency to retreat into their shells.

  • Adult Size: 10-18″ in (25-45 cm), weighs up to 40-50 pounds (18-23 kg) when fully grown
  • Lifespan: 50-100 years
  • Average Cost: 400-2000 USD

Marginated Tortoise

Testudo marginata

Scientific NameTestudo marginata

Marginated tortoises are endemic to Greece, Italy, and the Balkans, with scattered wild populations on Mediterranean islands. 

They have distinctive flaring around the bottom and rear of their carapaces, often referred to as a “skirt.”

These tortoises do hibernate in the wild and may in captivity as well. 

Make sure you are prepared for a tortoise hibernation if you adopt or buy a marginated. 

Do not use sand as their substrate. 

Hard-packed dirt makes a better substrate for them. 

Though they are known for being hardy, marginated tortoises do have more intense lighting requirements for their enclosures. 

Babies are especially susceptible to dehydration and overheating, so make sure to keep their enclosures humid enough and temperatures at appropriate levels.

Marginated tortoises eat a variety of leafy greens, vegetables, and treats of fresh fruit in captivity. 

A commercial tortoise diet with supplemental vitamins and minerals may help provide them with complete and balanced nutrition.

They are known for being hardy tortoises. 

Marginated tortoises also do well in groups, though you should only keep them with other marginateds to prevent crossbreeding across species. 

They also have friendly dispositions towards human keepers.

One advantage to marginated tortoises is their multiple captive breeding populations, both in Europe and the United States. 

Unlike other tortoises on this list, they have stable wild populations. 

Although we still recommend buying captive-bred, you will not have to worry about taxing native populations forced into the pet trade. 

They are also prolific breeders, making them more widely available to pet tortoise keepers. 

They have also been known to crossbreed in captivity with other tortoise species, including Hermann’s tortoises and Russian tortoises.

  • Adult Size: 12-15” in (30-38 cm)
  • Lifespan: an average of 20 years, though proper care and husbandry will lead to a longer lifespan
  • Average Cost: 200-450 USD

Pancake Tortoise

Malacochersus tornieri

Scientific NameMalacochersus tornieri

This unique species is native to Tanzania and Kenya. 

As suggested by the name, pancake tortoises have flat, not domed, carapaces. 

They come in shades of brown with star-shaped patterns on their flat carapaces.

These tortoises will need at least a 40-gallon terrarium indoors. 

Include a soaking bowl or multiple if you are housing numerous and a burrowing substrate. 

We recommend bark, coconut bedding, rabbit pellets, or untreated organic topsoil without manure or pesticides.

Pancake tortoises eat a variety of fresh and dry grasses, fruits, and leafy greens.

Surprisingly, pancake tortoises are very social animals. 

If you are housing multiple, make sure there is enough food to go around, and they will live together without trouble.

Unfortunately, these unique tortoises are a threatened species in the wild, and captive breeding populations are limited. 

This is part of the reason why individuals are so expensive. 

However, higher demand for captive-bred pancake tortoises will hopefully help preserve their relatives in the wild, keeping them out of the pet trade.

  • Adult Size: 6-7” in (15-18 cm)
  • Lifespan: 35 years
  • Average Cost: 650-1000 USD

Red-Foot Tortoise (AKA Red-Footed Tortoise)

red foot tortoise

Scientific NameChelonoidis carbonaria

Red-footed tortoises are native to tropical forest environments in Panama, Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil. 

They have red markings on their feet and the tops of their heads. 

Their domed carapaces are dark with ivory-colored patterning.

These larger tortoises, whether housed indoors or outdoors, will need a larger enclosure. 

Since they live in tropical environments, they will need it consistently humid and hot.

Red-footed tortoises are slightly more omnivorous than most tortoises and will need supplemental proteins. 

Live insects like worms, crickets, and roaches have adequate amounts of protein. 

Commercial turtle pellets also provide good supplemental nutrition, though the majority of a tortoise’s diet should be fresh foods. 

If necessary, red-footed tortoises can eat high-quality cat or dog food. 

Most of the diet should be made up of leafy greens, like dandelion greens, mustard greens, and endive.

Their friendly temperaments and overall ease of care mean red-footed tortoises are often recommended as beginner pet tortoises. 

However, their higher humidity requirements and larger size may be a turnoff for most beginners.

  • Adult Size: 10-16” in (25-41 cm)
  • Lifespan: Up to 50 years
  • Average Cost: 200-400 USD

Russian Tortoise

russian tortoise

Scientific NameTestudo horsfieldii

Russian tortoises are native to sand and clay deserts in Pakistan, Iran, and China. 

They have a domed carapace in a range of shades from brown to olive green.

If housing them indoors, you will definitely want to provide their enclosures with proper UV lighting. 

Though Russian tortoises do okay in a 50-gallon tank minimum, they also do well with larger ones. 

This is another species which does best in an outdoor enclosure, even if only for part of the year. 

Either outdoors or indoors, Russian tortoises will want a burrowing substrate.

These tortoises eat a variety of plant matter, including hay, dark lettuces, kale, collard greens, turnips, and turnip greens. 

They are voracious eaters and have been known to destroy any accessible plants in their areas through eating them.

Russian tortoises are popular pets not only because of their smaller size but also because of their feisty and engaging personalities. 

They also tend to be hardy, even at high, low, or more variable temperatures. 

Most Russian tortoises in the pet trade, unfortunately, are wild-caught, which might make a captive-bred one harder to find if you want to commit to one.

  • Adult Size: 8-10” in (20-25 cm)
  • Lifespan: 40 years
  • Average Cost: 100-200 USD

Yellow-footed Tortoise

yellow footed tortoise

Scientific NameChelonoidis denticulata

Yellow-footed tortoises live in drier areas of the Amazon river basin in South America. 

As their name suggests, they do have yellow feet and heads, as well as yellow spots on their carapaces.

A yellow-footed tortoise will need a burrowing substrate of peat moss and sand in its enclosure. 

Because of its larger size, we recommend a larger vivarium. 

It is essential you create a basking area at 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° degrees Celsius).

These tortoises are herbivorous. 

Feed them a diet of collard and mustard greens, romaine lettuce, squash, carrots, kale, and the occasional melon treat.

Though yellow-footed tortoises have friendly dispositions, they are also shy and will retreat into their shells when feeling threatened.

  • Adult Size: 15″ in or more (38 cm)
  • Lifespan: 50 years
  • Average Cost: 250-1400 USD

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed learning about the different types of pet turtles, and if you decide to get one make sure to read our guide on the best names for pet turtles.