5 Top Turtles For Beginners

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Turtles For Beginners

Which turtle is the best for you? There are several of them, but which one is ideal for you?

If you’re thinking about getting a turtle as a pet, there are a few things you need to know. Not all turtles are equal in their day-to-day needs, and there are certain species that make better pets for beginners than others.

Turtles make excellent pets and there are several of them, but which one is the best for you? In this article, we’ll introduce you to the best turtles for beginners and help you decide which one is right for you.

Traits of a Good Beginner Turtle

Usually when there is a new person looking to get into the turtle-keeping hobby he will probably want to start with an easy turtle to care for.

  • Hardy – The first thing every beginner turtle keeper should look for is if the turtle is a hardy, which basically means the turtle is forgiving beginner mistakes that could occur.
  • Easy To Care For – Another thing that you need to look for is if the turtle in question is a low-maintenance turtle. Some turtles do require more maintenance than others like a snapping turtle.
  • Small Size – Usually, a turtle that is small is also a good idea for beginners because not everybody has room for a 120-gallons tank or a giant pond for very large turtles.
  • Common And Inexpensive – Also, a common and inexpensive turtle is also a good idea to own because you will find a lot of information about them readily and get the information you need in just a few searches online.

Now let’s have a look at some turtles that fit all of our traits for the easiest pet turtle to take care of.

RELATED READ: How Much Does a Turtle Cost?

Southern Painted Turtle

Southern Painted Turtle

This is a hardy and small turtle that can be found mostly in the southeastern parts of the United States.

Out of all of the painted turtles, the southern painted turtle is the smallest of them all and usually can grow between 3.5 to 7 inches depending on females being larger.

You can easily recognize this turtle because it has a crimson line down the center of its carapace which makes them a very beautiful turtle to admire.

The southern painted turtle can live somewhere between 20 to 30 years if proper care is taken and are a very sociable type of aquatic turtle species.

They will feed mainly on plants and small animals such as fish or aquatic insects which makes them omnivorous turtles with hatchlings tending to be more carnivorous.

They are great beginner turtles for a few reasons. They don’t require a lot of space like the yellow-bellied slider, so a 75-gallon aquarium is enough for one of these guys.

One of the most common species of turtles, they are also one of the easiest to come by in the pet market and are thus a fantastic choice for beginners.

RELATED READ: How To Take Care Of A Painted Turtle

Red-Eared Slider

Red-Eared Slider

The red-eared slider is one of the hardiest turtle species on the planet and can thrive in a lot of environments capable of wiping out indigenous flora.

They appear to adjust well to change and are considered an invasive type of turtle because they cause a negative impact on the ecosystems that they aren’t supposed to occupy.

Because of how though red-eared sliders are they have certain biological advantages over the native populations of fauna.

They make a great pet because they are one of the easiest to take care of as long as you can provide them with a suitable habitat.

The only disadvantage with this turtle being a beginner-friendly turtle is that it can grow up to 12 inches long, which most people do not like or even realize due to its tiny stature as a hatchling.

Not many people have the option to buy a 100 plus gallons tank to home this beautiful creature.

A red-eared slider is an omnivore. It eats plants, insects, worms, small fish, algae, and pellets and can live up to 30 years in captivity if proper care is taken.

Captive-bred red-eared sliders are sociable and they will frequently swim up to you and beg for food.

Note that if you are certain that you want to have a red-eared slider as a pet, try not to buy it and look to rehome or adopt the turtle.

RELATED READ: How to Care For a Red-Eared Slider Turtle

Diamondback Terrapin

Diamondback Terrapin

If you’re looking for a turtle that will be easy to care for, the diamondback is another excellent choice. Diamondback turtles are also easier to care for if they’ve been captive-bred.

This turtle can be a little more difficult than the others on the list simply because they live in brackish water but can do well in freshwater too.

Aesthetically, the diamondback turtle is a very beautiful creature if not one of the most unique types of turtles. They have a dark brown or black carapace with unique yellow spots that form a diamond pattern on their shell.

Because of their pleasing looks and size, they are a very popular turtle and can be found almost everywhere if you are looking to acquire one.

They can grow up to 5 to 6 inches long with the females being larger. They live an average of 25 years but have been known to surpass 50 years in some cases.

The diet of a diamondback turtle is rather unique because they are almost strictly carnivorous and can sometimes ingest small amounts of plant materials.

Their diet consists of snails, small crustaceans, fish, and insects.

Overall, the diamondback turtle is a great beginner turtle that is easy to find, has a long lifespan, and is a beautiful addition to any tank.

RELATED READ: Types of Pet Turtles

Common Musk Turtle (Stinkpots)

Common Musk Turtle (Stinkpots)

The common musk turtle is a small, dark-colored turtle that can be found in most of the eastern United States and are the smallest of the turtles that we listed in this article which makes them one of the best turtles to bring home.

They get their name from the musky smell they produce when frightened but with captive-bred turtles, they tend to not do this.

These turtles are omnivores and eat a variety of things including plants, small fish, worms, and insects.

Musk turtles grow to be about 3-4 inches and have a lifespan of 15-20 years with some living up to 30 years in captivity.

They are hardy turtles and can live in a variety of habitats but prefer shallow, slow-moving water with a lot of vegetation.

One of the reasons that musk turtles make such great beginner turtles is that they are very easy to care for and don’t require a large tank.

They can be kept in a 20 gallons tank with a water depth of no more than 6 inches.

With proper care, a musk turtle can be a great addition to any tank and is perfect for beginner turtle enthusiasts.

RELATED READ: Musk Turtle Care

Mississippi Map Turtle

Mississippi Map Turtle

The Mississippi map turtle is a great beginner turtle for a few reasons. They are one of the smaller turtles on this list, with males only reaching around 3.5 – 5 inches as an adult and females somewhere between 6 to 10 inches.

They are also one of the most aquatic turtles on this list, spending the majority of their time in the water.

Their diet is mostly composed of aquatic plants, but they will also eat small fish, crayfish, and insects.

They are hardy turtles and can live in a variety of water conditions, but they prefer slow-moving water with a lot of vegetation.

Mississippi map turtles make great beginner turtles because they are hardy, easy to care for and have a long lifespan.

They can be found in the wild in the Mississippi River basin but are also widely available in pet stores.

With proper care, a Mississippi map turtle can live 20-30 years.

RELATED READ: How to Set Up a Turtle Tank


So there you have it, we presented the best aquatic turtles that you can own as a beginner.

Each of these turtles has their own unique benefits and are perfect for anyone just starting out in the world of turtle keeping.

We hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions please feel free to browse our other articles that go in-depth on each subject.