How Much Does a Turtle Cost?

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how much does a turtle cost

Turtles are popular pets, but before you decide to buy one, you should be aware of how much they cost and the other costs that come with owning one.

The price of a turtle can vary depending on the type of turtle, where you buy it from, and whether or not it is already fully grown.

Turtles are relatively cheap compared to cats and dogs, but there are other costs to consider such as food, housing, and veterinary care.

By being aware of these costs upfront, you can better prepare yourself for the financial commitment of owning a turtle.

One-Time Costs

When initially buying a turtle there are some factors that will influence the price of a turtle.

It’s important to mention that there are, however, some differences in pricing when we compare different types of pet turtles. Tortoises tend to be more expensive than semi-aquatic turtles depending on the species from each side.

With tortoises, usually, it takes longer to reach breeding age and they lay fewer eggs per lay/season, therefore, making them harder to breed. Red-eared sliders (semi-aquatic turtles) for example mature more quickly, can lay a ton of eggs, and can breed like rabbits.

Buying The Turtle


Some people will want to rehome their turtles because they do not have enough time or money.

However, most of the time, they will rehome it simply because the turtle will grow so large that they would have no idea what to do with it.

While some common turtles are not typically expensive to purchase, they are not usually associated with a rehoming charge.


If you’re looking to adopt a turtle you could go to a local pet store or even a pet shelter.

Depending on the type of organization, adoption fees can range from no fee up to several hundred dollars.

Adoption fees help cover the medical care of the turtle while he or she waits for a new home, as well as food or transportation costs.

Shelters and rescue groups usually cover initial veterinary costs to prepare the pet for a new home.


If you’re a serious turtle keeper, you may purchase them from a reputable turtle breeder, who will ensure that your turtle is healthier and more active.

Although there are relatively few turtle breeders, you may locate them for uncommon and more fascinating turtle species.

Even if a breeder breeds typical turtle species, they will often be more expensive to keep or acquire from a pet shop than to adopt them or buy them from a marketplace.

You can expect to pay more than $100 for a pet turtle, and much more for some of the rarer or more exotic turtles.

List of Turtle Buying Sources and Costs:

Adoption:$0 – $150
Breeder:$30 – $700

Common Turtle Prices in the U.S.

If you live in North America, here is a price range for some of the most frequent turtle and tortoise sorts:

Red-Eared Slider:$5-$85
Yellow Belly Slider:$5-$85
Painted Turtle:$30-$150
Wood Turtle:$90-$200
Spotted Turtle:$200-$350
African Sideneck Turtle:$70-$200
Northern Diamondback Terrapin:$125-$600
Softshell Turtle:$100-$300
Sulcata Tortoise:$100-$300
Leopard Tortoise:$300-$1500
Red Food Tortoise:$300-$600
Hermann’s Tortoise:$300-$700
Greek Tortoise:$300-$500
note that this prices are subject to change

RELATED READ: How Much Does a Russian Tortoise Cost?

What Is The Average Cost of a Turtle?

There is no one definitive answer to this question as the cost of a turtle can vary depending on a variety of factors.

However, according to the Professional Pet Sitters Association (PPSA), the average cost of a turtle is around $200.

This price can vary depending on the size, sex if it’s a wild or captive breed, type of turtle, as well as the extras that may be purchased along with it, such as a tank, food, and equipment.

What is the Cheapest Turtle to Buy?

baby red-eared slider
baby red-eared slider

The red-eared slider is a species of turtle that is often considered the cheapest to buy with an average price of around $10. The reason for the low price could be because of most of its popularity and invasiveness around the world.

However, as this turtle can grow quite large, it is important to research the size of the turtle you are purchasing to ensure it will be a good fit for your home and not eventually rehome it.

How Much do Turtles Cost at Petco?

According to the Petco website, the average price of a turtle at one of their stores is $30. This price range typically includes turtles both small and large, as well as those of different species.

How Much is a Turtle at PetSmart?

Similar to Petco, the average price of a turtle at PetSmart is $30. However, there is a wider range of prices at this store, with small turtles costing as little as $5 and larger ones selling for upwards of $100.

RELATED READ: How To Care For A Tortoise

Initial Costs

Before buying a turtle you need to have in place a habitat for him to call home. This of course will cost you money.

The size of the enclosure you buy as well as the accessories that come with it will determine how much you spend.

Turtle Enclosure

The price of the enclosure can vary depending on what enclosure you are buying or building. Glass aquariums are the most popular type of enclosure for turtles.

You can buy a pre-made aquarium or you could build your own. Building your own can be cheaper but it also takes more time and effort.

If you buy a pre-made aquarium, the cost ranges from $50 to $800 depending on the size and materials.

If you build your own, the cost could be as low as $50 but it could also go up to $300 if you use high-quality materials.

List of Turtle Enclosure Types and Costs:

Stock Tanks:$30-$150
Rubbermaid Totes:$25-$300
Kiddie Pools:$10-$100
Tortoise Outdoor Enclosure:$40-$200
Preformed Pond Liners:$25-$150
DIY Enclosure:$30-??? (you can go wild here)

Supplies Cost

The cost of the materials for your turtle’s enclosure is mostly up to you. Depending on the quality, some of the goods you buy at the start may be a one-time expense.

The lights will be the ones that will need the most replacement, as they should be changed every 6 to 12 months, depending on the wattage.

The turtle bedding also needs changing every few weeks, and the water should be changed at least once a week.

List of Initial Items for Turtle Enclosure and Costs:

UVB Lights:$5-$45
Heat Lamp:$10-$45
Viewing Lights:$2-$15
Light Timer:$10-$35
Water Filter:$20-$250
Water Heater:$15-$80
Basking Area/ Platform:$5-$40
Water & Food Dish:$2-$10


If you rehome or acquire a turtle, your first trip should be to a veterinarian. A check-up could cost you around $45-$75 only if he doesn’t find any health issues with the turtle.

On-Going Costs

There are costs that will normally come up time and again when you own a turtle. These could include things like food, bedding, vet bills, and habitat maintenance.

Health Check-Ups

turtle at vet
turtle at vet

Check-ups are typically the only aspect of turtle health care that you will need to worry about. Take them to a vet that is aware of reptiles and give them a thorough examination, without doing anything invasive.

This check-up should be sufficient for assessing your turtle’s general health for the next year. A checkup to the veterinarian should be done at least once a year and could range in price from $45 to $75.


It’s extremely unusual for your turtle to have recurring issues that they’ll require continuous medication for.

Perhaps as they grow older and their bodies change, they may develop a problem. It is not very common for any turtle medicine to be prohibitively costly, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank each year with their upkeep.

If your turtle should require medication, the vet will be able to give you a prescription. This could cost you anywhere from $10-$100+.


It’s difficult to predict how much you’ll spend if your turtle needs an emergency surgical procedure or therapy.

Since you can carefully check the health of their surroundings, these events are not very frequent. Try to prepare at least $100 in cash for turtle-related crises, just in case they happen once or twice throughout a turtle’s lengthy life.

There may be times when your turtle needs immediate care and the vet is not open.

If this is the case, there are a few emergency steps you can take to try and stabilize your pet until you can get them to a professional.

One of these steps would be to give them fluids. If your turtle won’t drink water on their own, you will need to use a syringe to give them fluids. This is a simple process but can be time-consuming.

A syringe is about $5 and you will need to purchase fluids from a pharmacy, which costs around $10.

It’s important that you monitor your turtle’s health closely and if you see any changes, take them to the vet right away. This could save your turtle’s life.


There are some rules in some places to ensure the safety and preservation of native turtles while also retaining the educational and economic benefits derived from them.

To keep or breed turtles or reptiles, in particular, you will need a permit/ license.

A permit could be as much as $10 dollars per year or more.


It is not common to insure a turtle because they are typically very cheap pets. Some of the turtle species, on the other hand, are regarded exotics and may be worth money in the right market.

If you do choose to insure your turtle, the costs will be negligible each month. On average, turtle insurance costs $4 each month, but if your turtle species is unusual, it might cost up to $100 per month.

Food Costs

baby tortoise eating
baby tortoise eating

The cost of food for a turtle can vary greatly. It all depends on the type of turtle you have, their age, and what they are eating.

A diet of pellets and vegetables will typically cost between $15 and $30 a month, while live food can be as expensive as $100 a month.

It’s important to find a food that your turtle will enjoy and is affordable. Pellets are a good option because they offer a balanced diet, but you can also give your turtle fruits and vegetables.

Be sure to avoid feeding them processed foods, like hot dogs or junk food. These will not only be bad for their health, but they are also very expensive.

Environment Maintenance

The cost of maintaining an environment for your turtle will vary depending on the size of their habitat and the type of enclosure you have.

Your environments, once you’ve spent the cash, are simple to manage.

You may want to replace tank equipment every so often, but the budget for that is minimal.

Some other costs come with maintaining the enclosure functional like energy for lights and filters, which typically runs about $5-$10 a month.

If your turtle spends time outdoors in a pond or pool, you will need to budget for water and electricity costs to keep that area clean and functioning.

RELATED READ: How to Set Up a Turtle Tank


To entertain a turtle you will usually want to introduce new things to his enclosure, and that costs money.

You can buy toys, plants, and other items to keep your turtle amused for as little as $5 or as much as $100.

It’s important to keep your turtle entertained, as they can get bored easily. This will help keep them healthy and happy.

Cost of Annual Expenses

In addition to the one-time expenses of purchasing a turtle and the initial costs for getting your turtle prepared for your new home, you will also need to be prepared for the annual costs that come with owning one.

Some of these recurring costs, like food and environment maintenance, have already been mentioned.

Here is a list of some other annual costs to keep in mind:

  • Vet check-ups: $50
  • License and registration: $10-$25
  • Habitat cleaning: $40
  • Heating and lighting: $15
  • Bedding: $50
  • Foods Costs: $250-$500


Will You be Able to Own a Turtle On A Budget?

Owning a turtle can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, but it’s important to be aware of the costs that come with it.

While the initial price of buying a turtle may be cheap, the costs of owning a turtle can add up over time.

By being mindful of the expenses and planning ahead, you can keep your turtle budget in check.

Tips for reducing the cost of owning a turtle:

  • Feed your turtle a diet of pellets and vegetables, which is cheaper than live food.
  • Look for affordable toys and other items to keep your turtle amused.
  • Replace tank equipment as needed to keep costs down.
  • Clean your turtle’s habitat yourself to save on professional cleaning fees.
  • Heating and lighting your turtle’s environment can be expensive, but there are ways to reduce the cost.
  • Consider having your turtle live outdoors in a pond or pool to lower energy costs.
  • Use energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances when possible.
  • Have a light timer to turn off the heating and lighting in your turtle’s habitat when you’re not there to watch them.
  • Remember that the more expensive stuff, like a vet check-up, can be spread out over time to make them more affordable.
  • Talk to other turtle owners to get tips and advice on how to reduce the cost of owning a turtle.

RELATED READ: Do Turtles Need Light at Night?


Owning a turtle is not as expensive as it may seem at first. The initial price of buying a turtle is relatively low, but you can expect to spend more money on food and other items to keep your pet healthy and entertained over time.

If you’re interested in owning a turtle, be sure to consider the cost that comes with it before making any final decisions about purchasing one.

While there are many ways you can reduce these costs (e.g., feeding them pellets instead of living food), they will still need some level of care from an experienced professional who understands how their brain works so they don’t become bored or neglected which could lead to health problems for your new friend!