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Turtle Prices in 2023: Purchase Cost by Type, Supplies, Food, and … – AZ Animals

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Turtles have become an incredibly popular choice for pets in the last several years for many reasons. One of the biggest is how easy it is to care for them and how well invested new reptile owners do with them. These friendly animals don’t ask for a lot — just the right set up, proper food, turtle costs, and some affectionate care and cleaning.
The fact that set-up fees are the highest costs for turtles and tortoises, with low monthly and annual costs, doesn’t hurt their popularity. Most folks spend up to $500 for the initial set up (though more commonly around $250) with only turtle food, bedding, and annual vet visits to worry about the rest of the time.
Even more, turtles live between 20 and 40 years and tortoises can easily outlive you, your kids, and even your grandkids. Because of this long life, though, you’ll want to carefully consider not just the upfront turtle costs but the life you’ll be able to provide for all those years and the commitment you’ll be making.
Let’s take a look at the costs upfront and monthly to see what you’ll be looking at.
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Several factors play into turtle costs, specifically the species, rarity, size, sex, and age of the turtle. Juveniles tend to be more expensive than adults, likely because a healthy juvenile turtle is likely to live another 20 to 40 years.
The source of the pet will also impact the turtle costs, with pet shops and breeders suggesting the highest prices.
©Cat Hammond/Shutterstock.com
You may find turtles in four basic places: rescues and shelters, pet stores, freebie websites like Craigslist or Freecycle, or with breeders. The Humane Society recommends only bringing home rescue and adoptive turtles, rather than purchasing via breeders or pet stores because of the often cruel treatment of animals bred for sale. Since turtles live on average between 20 and 40 years, you’re sure to find a life-long friend among the rescued animals.
Check for rehoming options via Freecycle.org, OfferUp.com, Craigslist.com, and other similar sites. Often, these turtles come with equipment from the owners who can no longer keep the animals due to downsizing or new responsibilities.
In most cases, adopting turtles from rescue shelters will involve a small adoption fee, running between $10 and $40. These are typically turtles that someone needed to rehome but couldn’t find a taker for in time. From shelters, turtles usually come in healthy conditions, since the shelters work to rescue the animals rather than neglect them.
While the Human Society recommends skipping breeders and retailers, you may still opt for one of these. Turtles aren’t particularly expensive pets, so typically you’ll find just about any species (save some tortoises) for between $50 and $100. Rarer or unique species may cost much more.
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Before you decide on a turtle, be aware that not all pet shops and breeders sell healthy animals. Be sure that the shelter, breeder, or pet shop is legitimate and has a good reputation.
It’s also important to note that selling turtles with shells smaller than 4-inches in length is illegal to prevent the spread of turtle-borne salmonella.
If a turtle is healthy, he likely won’t require much medical attention beyond the annual vet visit. The exceptions could be in the case of emergency. They don’t require vaccinations, dental care, or grooming, so monthly costs only apply to turtles dealing with health conditions.
Most common health concerns for turtles include:
In most cases, the annual vet visit will help you monitor these potential conditions and prevent them from occurring. These visits usually range between $45 and $75, depending on your location.
Before bringing home a turtle, do your research on the species you’re most interested in. The health, happiness, and safety of your turtle may well depend on your knowledge. This means look into food for the specific species. Learn exactly how big your turtle enclosure needs to be. What temperatures do your turtle need during daytime versus nighttime? What substrate is best? Which basking lamp will provide the right coverage?
Don’t skimp on this step. Instead, spend a good several weeks researching the various species and their needs until you land on the right one for your living situation, your care ability, and your budget. And don’t be afraid to reach out to turtle forums and experts before bringing one home.
Generally speaking, there are no special legal requirements for bringing home turtles from pet stores or breeders. However, there may be some based on the species you choose. For information on box turtles, check out this guide to legal matters concerning box turtles, state-by-state.
Many species of turtle exist, but many are not appropriate to keep as pets. For example, sea turtles. While they may be tempting, sea turtles are never permitted as pets. The endangered animals may only be cared for by specifically licensed centers and wildlife rescues. If you see hatchlings, eggs, or sea turtles in the wild, do not attempt to touch them or bring them home.
Appropriate species may be found at legitimate pet stores, via breeders, shelters, and other avenues. These include:
Tortoises require a minimum of 40 gallons for their tank sizes, while semi-aquatic turtles need at least 29-gallons of space.
Though turtles require specialized care, they are great pets for beginner reptile owners. They’re fairly low-key animals who need the right food, equipment, and enclosures, but generally don’t require intensive knowledge or loads of time for their care.
Many species of turtles are semi-aquatic, meaning they need both water and dry areas in their enclosures. Tortoises, on the other hand, are land animals. Their enclosures must provide enough space for movement, water, feeding areas, basking areas, and shelter.
©iStock.com/:Marina Vedernikova
The big up-front cost for your turtle is going to be the aquarium and equipment for setup. Once you have a proper set-up, however, the costs dramatically drop and the monthly costs are fairly low for keeping a turtle.
The aquarium for your turtle’s enclosure is key for providing her with the right environment. It needs to be water-tight and large enough to contain both water for swimming and dry “land” for basking and sleeping. Aquariums come in many sizes and shapes, but for turtles, you want long tanks with tall side to provide the turtle with more usable space. They’re climbers! So, the tanks also need to have screened lids to help prevent them from climbing out of their aquariums unsupervised.
Most decent tanks run between $100 and $500, depending on the size you opt for.
A variety of substrates may be chosen for your turtle enclosure. River pebbles are a popular choice for the bottom of the water section of the tank. These are carefully prepared for safe turtle usage, though, not from a river! Typically, these will cost between $15 and $25 per package.
For the dry area of the enclosure, consider reptile mulch or soil, bark, or coconut husk. These require monthly changes, as they are biodegradable and become unhealthy without frequent changes. These substrates may be found at pet stores or online retailers for between $10 to $35.
Your turtle’s tank needs clean, filtered water that doesn’t contain the nasty contaminants that tap water contains. That means you’ll need to install a water filter for your shell-pal. For the best results, use a filtration system designed for a tank twice the size of your turtle’s. This helps ensure the water truly is as clean and pure as she needs. Filters cost between $70 and $200 on average, though, depending on the size tank, you may find a quality one for less.
Using tap water as-is for your turtle will result in your reptile buddy getting sick or at least having a ;ess fulfilled life. The chlorine can seriously hurt turtles. Neutralize the chemicals in the water with water conditioners designed for pet use. These will cost around $10 to $15.
Turtles are not fully aquatic, and as reptiles, they need to be able to bask on rocks, driftwood, or other objects under a warm light. You’ll need a basking lamp and fixture to attach to the tank. These together will cost around $45 and $55.
To take advantage of its basking lamp, your turtle will need a ramp, large rock, or basking platform of some kind. Never use a rock you find lying around. These can carry problematic mites and diseases that could infect your turtle. Instead, look to a pet shop or online retailer for a turtle ramp or specially prepared rock. You can also build a homemade platform using an online tutorial. The cost will run between $10 and $30, depending on which route you go.
In most cases, the water in your turtle’s aquarium will drop below safety and comfort levels for your turtle. This means you’ll need a submersible heater to keep the temperature viable for your reptile pal. One of these will run between $20 and $40, depending on how large your tank is.
Since most pet turtles are semi-aquatic, they require both a thermostat for their heat lamp and a thermostat for their water. This means, you’ll spend about $50 total for this setup component. If you go for higher quality, you’ll only need to purchase the items once or twice at the most during the turtle’s lifetime.
Among your regular expenses for turtles, food is a big one. These primarily carnivorous animals require a large amount of their food to be protein. Often, folks use crickets, earthworms, feeder fish, tilapia, or chicken for this. If you’re so inclined, you may to create your own cricket farm for cheaper food for your reptile pal.
To begin, many folks recommend starting out your turtle on pre-package turtle food. This ensures the turtle receives the necessary nutrients while you learn the ropes of turtle care. Each pack costs about $20 or less and lasts about 1 month. Make sure you provide them with Vitamin D and calcium supplements, as well, which run around $10 per month.
©iStock.com/Pablo Solís Fernández
On average, your monthly costs for caring for a turtle will run you between $30 to $55 for food and bedding.
Occasionally, you’ll need to replace other equipment and you’ll need to factor in the annual vet visit. If you save $150 to $200 per year for these costs, you’ll be in good shape.
Turtles are, thankfully, not terribly expensive pets to keep. Not many cost-cutting measures can be found, since they already require so little after initial costs. A few, though, could include keeping your own cricket farm, purchasing high-quality food for better health, and maintaining your regular vet visits. These all add up to savings in the long run, even if not today.
©Anna List/Shutterstock.com
One you bring home your new pet turtle, you may want to reach out for some help along the way. Many forums for turtle care exist, as well as specific species and pet turtle care guides. A few of these could be helpful as you begin.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.
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