Home Exotic PetsTurtles Dollar Turtles: Pet Turtles That Stay Small

Dollar Turtles: Pet Turtles That Stay Small

by Dean

As responsible parents, we must always research before adopting a pet. Due to lack of knowledge, many of these pets wound up on Craigslist or given up for adoption to a different person. The reason being the first owner was not prepared to keep a pet.

It is fact that some pets require more work than others. When talking about low-maintenance pets, turtles come to mind. Turtles are not only easy to manage but some specific types come in very small sizes. 

Again the responsibility lies with the owner to research the correct species of turtles. As some turtles seemingly never stop growing. The downside is that the owner has to spend money on the upkeep like buying a larger tank and spending more money on food etc.

If you are in the market for a small turtle, then you will find this article very useful. Here I will discuss the different types of turtles that stay small.

There are many names for such small species of turtles such as:

  • miniature turtles
  • dollar turtles
  • quarter turtles
  • dwarf turtles

It is important to note that all these names represent very small turtles. In the first part of this article, I have listed some of the top breeds of these small turtles. The second part briefly touches on a few breeds of turtles that you should avoid if you are looking for a small or dollar turtle. Mainly because they turn out to be giant species.

In these sections, you will find the necessary information that will prevent you from buying the wrong type of turtle.

What Are The Kind of Turtles That Stay Small? Raising Turtles & Overview of Turtle Species

Turtles belong to the category of exotic and one of the most favorite categories of reptile pets. Dollar or small turtles make for adorable reptiles that do great in apartments as well as houses. They are very low maintenance and require less time than your average furry pet.

Currently, there are over 250 turtle species in the world. Only a select handful of these stay small even in adulthood. Many people want these types of turtles because they become easier to care for and find a suitable tank.

Do Dollar Turtles Require Less Work?

Don’t assume that raising a small turtle is a piece of cake. This miniature thing is just like any other pet. They still require your time and attention. As compared to the wild, a pet turtle needs your care to stay alive and healthy.

The first towards this is regular tank upkeep. This is very basic unless you require your little buddy to live in an ideal place. The best is that you clean its tank after every two weeks.

 Other than the tank, you need a container or a pet carrier as well for your dollar turtle. This will help you during the regular cleaning sessions as well as vet visits. Turtles need to be fed at least 4 to 5 times a week and should be provided with a fresh and clean water source.

How to Tell the Gender of Your Turtle?

When you are looking for a turtle of a particular size, it is equally important to be aware of the size difference between different genders. Generally, males are smaller than females. It is also difficult to find turtles that stay tiny, but you can usually find some that stay under 5 inches.

 You must also invest in a nice size aquarium so that the turtle has plenty of space to roam around and stay healthy.

 Like with any other pet, it is a good idea to do a lot of research on the type of turtle you are looking for. Although most turtle breeds are not very expensive. Still, you should sleep on it. Do your best to decide if you are ready for the obligation. The next step is the exciting part: deciding what type of turtle to buy.

What Are The Benefits of Dollar Turtles?

Low Maintenance

The size of these turtles makes them very low maintenance. So much so that kids can take care of them as well.

Suitable for Apartments as well as Houses

Another benefit of small turtles is that they are great for an apartment as well as house life. Larger turtles don’t offer that advantage.

Tank Upkeep

Small turtles take a lot less room than larger ones. Plus you don’t have to spend that much time feeding and cleaning.

Cute and Adorable

Like all things small, dollar turtles look cute and adorable. As with puppies and kittens, the dollar turtle’s small size contributes to their desirability.

Are There Any Local Laws or Rules for Keeping Endangered Species or Small Turtles?

As with most exotic wildlife, one should be aware of the local rules and regulations. The same goes for small turtles. Although these rules vary concerning each location.

Also, most types of turtles are illegal to keep without the appropriate license in the areas where they are considered native. We suggest finding a turtle species you are interested in, then researching in regards to whether it is acceptable to have as a pet in your specific area.

Do Small Turtles Need Care Too?

Yes, Of course, small turtles need just as much care and maintenance as large turtles. Like other pets, these small creatures need just as much love and attention. Hence they are a big responsibility.

The most critical thing to consider if you plan to keep small turtles healthy is tank care. You must clean the tank after every two weeks and use a powerful water filtration system to keep the water as clear as possible. If you are inexperienced in this department then we suggest you seek professional help. 

If you are interested in learning more about these fun creatures and how to take care of them, here are some recommended books:

Wilke, Hartmut (Author); English (Publication Language); 62 Pages - 09/01/2010 (Publication Date) - B E S Pub Co (Publisher)
Turtles & Tortoises For Dummies
Turtles & Tortoises For Dummies
Amazon Kindle Edition; Palika, Liz (Author); English (Publication Language); 332 Pages - 03/16/2020 (Publication Date) - For Dummies (Publisher)
The Box Turtle Manual (Herpetocultual Library) (Advanced Vivarium Systems)
The Box Turtle Manual (Herpetocultual Library) (Advanced Vivarium Systems)
Philippe de Vosjoli (Author); English (Publication Language); 78 Pages - 03/11/2004 (Publication Date) - CompanionHouse Books (Publisher)

Top Six Turtle Species that Stay Small

Here is our list of the top 6 turtle breeds that stay small. All these turtles are readily available in the US and most of them stay under 5 inches. 

1. Mud Turtles

mud turtle

The most common out of the small turtles are mud turtles that grow to about 4 to 5 inches. Their average life span in captivity is around 50 years. The origin of mud turtles in North America and parts of Africa.

Striped mud turtles and common mud turtles grow to about 4.5 inches. Sonoran and yellow and Sonoran mud turtles will sometimes reach up to 6 inches.  

2. Musk Turtles

musk turtle

People often mistake musk turtles for mud turtles because of their similarities. Musk turtles also live up to 50 years in captivity. The average length of these turtles is 3 to 4 inches.

Musk turtles are great for novice owners and make for excellent pets. The Stinkpot Common Musk Turtle is one of the smallest turtles in the world. There are four main species of musk turtles: loggerhead, common, flattened, and razorback.

3. Spotted Turtles

spotted turtle

Spotted turtles are semi-aquatic turtles. They are very easy to identify. These turtles have yellow spots on their necks, legs, shells, and heads. The rest of their body is a black color. The average length of this turtle 3.5 to 4 inches.

A 50-gallon tank is more than sufficient for spotted turtles. The ideal captive environment would be around 50% water and 50% land with a nice basking log.

4. Diamond Back Terrapins

diamond back terapin

Terrapin turtles are one of the ancient animal species on earth. These turtles are not suitable for inexperienced owners, none the less they make for great pets.

These turtles are prone to fungal infections and carapace diseases. They require a lot more care to keep them healthy. They need a larger tank with a capacity of around 70 gallons.

5. Reeve’s Turtles (Males)

reeves turtle

Reeves turtles originate from Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea. They are known for their rectangle shells.

You have to check their shell often like this type of turtle is susceptible to many shell diseases. The average length of these turtles is less than 5 inches.

6. Box Turtles

box turtle

Box turtles are the most common breed of pet turtles. While these turtles tend to grow larger, still you can expect them to be less than 6 inches.

This includes both the Eastern Box Turtle and the Ornate Box Turtle. On average they stall small in size and usually stay in the 4.5 to 6 inches range.

What Kind of Turtles does not Stay Small?

In contrast to the turtle species discussed above, several turtle breeds grow pretty big. Some fraudulent pet shop owners try to pass these big varieties as dollar turtles just to earn a few bucks.  So you should be extra careful when buying a pet turtle. 

At times people will try to pass red-eared sliders as dollar turtles because they remain tiny for a while. These turtles can reach up to 14 inches depending upon gender.

 Now and then there will be anomalies in the group below that stays small. However, the following list, discusses the species of turtles that grow big and should be avoided if one is looking for a miniature turtle.

 If you are looking for a pet that stays small you don’t want to try your luck with the following turtles:

1. Red-Eared Slider

Red Eared Slider

Red-eared sliders are a very common type of turtle in the United States. Full-grown adult red-eared sliders can reach up to 12 inches long.

These turtles can live up to 60 years and are fully aquatic. Most of these turtles originate from Mexico and some areas of the Caribbean.

2. Wood Turtle

wood turtle

Wood turtles are not as large as red-eared sliders, but still, they can reach up to 8 inches. These turtles however make for excellent pets as they are easily tamed.

The downside is that these turtles are becoming rare and quite expensive.

3. Map Turtle

map turtle

Females of Map turtles can get as long as 11 inches, however, males are smaller and get as big as 6 inches long.

Female map turtle’s carapaces can get as long as inches. These are commonly found around the Gulf of Mexico, but some are found as far north as Quebec.

4. Western Painted Turtle

Western Painted Turtle

These are very beautiful painted turtles as the name suggests. Western painted turtles originate all over North America. Because of their attractive colors, many people are breeding painted turtles. Hence prices are quite affordable.

Western painted turtles can grow up to 8 inches. However, southern painted turtles do not usually exceed 6 inches. Eastern and Midland varieties of painted turtles are in-between those two usually not getting larger than 7 inches.

Are Musk Turtles The Best Breed of Turtles That Stay Small?

In my opinion, the best beginner turtle for a novice turtle owner would be a common musk turtle. It belongs to a family Kinosternidae turtle. Musk turtles are aquatic. They are a very rough breed and make for great pets. Usually, these turtles come in a dark brown or black body with yellow markings.

stripe necked musk turtle

Musks are very inquisitive, like to explore, and are sometimes like little mountain climbers the way they will cruise around aquariums. These are hardy little creatures and unlike some species of turtle, they are not very susceptible to shell diseases or other types of illnesses. The types of mud turtles are razorback, loggerhead, flattened, and common.

These turtles rarely, grow beyond a length of 5 inches. These are the safest bet if you want a turtle that stays small forever. As I mentioned earlier, musk turtles may live up to 50 years old in a tank. The ideal tank for a musk turtle should be fitted with a slab of slate or a log for basking, a spotlight will a low-wattage bulb, hiding spots, climbing areas, and feeding spot. A 20-gallon tank is sufficient for a single adult musk turtle. A 40-gallon tank can house a pair of musk turtles.

Last update on 2023-07-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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