Breeds of Turtles- 5 Easy Tips for Quick Species Identification

Published: 29th March 2011
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If you recently started thinking of owning a turtle as a pet you have probably already figured out that deciding which species is right for you can be a little intimidating. There are over 300 breeds of turtles in the wild, but not all of them are really appropriate as a house pet. Before you can determine which turtle is right for you, you have to figure out what species you are dealing with. Think of these 5 points the next time you need to identify different breeds of turtles.





The first time you start planning to own a turtle as a pet there is a lot to learn. The first thing you have to know is what breeds of turtles are available for pets? There are hundreds of species of turtles and tortoises in the wild, but not all of them are suitable to be kept as house pets. Keep reading this article to discover 5 quick ways to identify the different breeds of turtles.





Before we go any further it should be noted that not every species of turtle easily fits into the following categories. Some turtles are so unique that not much about them resembles any other turtle in existence as far as colors and physical features. However, for the breeds of turtles that are most often kept as pets these 5 points should narrow down what kind of turtle your looking at.





1) Check the turtles feet. If there is webbing between the toes you have an aquatic turtle that spends most of its time in the water. If it has claws with no webbing it is a land dwelling tortoise.





2) How does the shell look? Different breeds of turtles have unique shell features. A high domed shell that resembles a helmet on a tortoise is a box turtle. A leathery shell that is not rock hard would be a soft-shell turtle. How about the bottom shell? If the plastron (bottom shell) is smaller than the body of the turtle you could very well be looking at a snapping turtle.





3) What kind of markings are on the body and shell? A dark shell with tiny white dots would be a spotted turtle, while pink and yellow stripes on the body and/or shell indicate a painted turtle. Does the turtle have red or yellow patches on either side of their face? If so that would be a slider turtle (red or yellow eared respectively).





4) Is the turtles head too large to retract into his shell? Does it have claws on its front feet and webbed feet on the back? Small bottom shell with a long neck and tail? If all of these are true you are looking at a form of snapping turtle (which are NOT recommended as pets unless you know a great deal about caring for turtles).





5) Anything you find at a beach with exaggerated flippers on the front legs is a sea turtle. Sea turtles can grow very large, but small ones wash on shore as well. It is illegal to take a wild sea turtle as a pet, but even if you could, it would be difficult if not impossible to raise them properly in captivity.





There are over 300 individual species of turtles in the wild with dozens of breeds that link them together. All breeds of turtles are unique with there own needs as far as diet, housing and health care. Itís recommended that if you are thinking about getting a pet turtle for the first time that you do your research.





Getting a turtle guide with step by step pet care would be the ideal solution. Before you start looking at any breeds of turtles be sure you know what you are getting into and what is expected of you, the owner on a daily basis.





Want to Learn More?


These are some general rules for identifying the different species of turtles, but they work well for most common species. To learn more about the different breeds of turtles and compare them side-by-side as pets check out my lens at www.squidoo.com/types-of-pet-turtles-. Be sure to read the review and check out the video of the #1 rated turtle guide to learn everything you need to know about keeping a happy healthy pet turtle.

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