The Cost of a Pet Turtle You Need to See This main picture
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In this simple short article, you will quickly discover the cost of a pet turtle, and what you can expect when you walk into a pet store.

How Much Do Turtles Cost?

Here’s the short answer.

99% of the turtles and tortoises that you will find in pet stores in North America will have a range from $0 to $1,000.

However, the vast majority of those turtles will be somewhere in the $0 to $50 range. Only rarely will you see any turtle listed or selling for hundreds of dollars, and if it is, it’s only because it is a rare species.

That’s not exactly the entire story, however.

The Longer Answer

Why do most common species of turtle that you find in any pet store in North America generally sell for under $50?

This is due to a number of factors.

First, the price of turtles in your local pet store (or online) is going to be highly dependent upon where exactly you live.

Some turtle and tortoise species are simply a lot harder to acquire in certain places than in others (for instance if you are looking for a Chinese Three Keeled Box Turtle and you live in Brazil). There are also legal issues, as there are certain species that are prohibited from being sold in certain countries.

Legal issues?

The 4-Inch Law

Yep. This goes for the United States as well, as what is widely regarded as the “4 Inch Law” was introduced in the 1970s to combat turtle and tortoise overbreeding as well as limit the effects of salmonella poisoning (turtles often carry it).

how much pet turtles cost content

The “4-Inch Law” expressly forbids the sale of any turtle or tortoise that has a carapace (shell) that is less than 4″ long.

This means that hatchlings and very young turtles are illegal to sell. If you ever happen to come across a hatchling being sold in any pet store or breeder shop in the States, please avoid the temptation to purchase it, as this would only continue to enable this type of illegal behavior.

Some Species Are Easier to Obtain

Second, if you are living in North America, most of the more common pet turtle and tortoise species are rather easy to obtain.

People who live outside of North America and other Western countries may find it more difficult to obtain certain breeds, outside of extremely common ones like red-eared sliders and general box turtles.

Red-eared sliders, for instance, are insanely popular and quite cheap.

Why is this?

For a few reasons.

  • Their natural habitat extends throughout around one-third to one-half of the United States.
  •  A typical female red-eared slider can lay up to 5 clutches of eggs per year, and each clutch of eggs having anywhere from 2 to 30 eggs.
  • Each red-eared slider egg only takes around 2 to 4 months to hatch.
  • Each red-eared slider egg only takes around 2 to 4 months to hatch.

Essentially, sliders are found throughout a large part of the US, and they can easily and bountifully reproduce. This means that they aren’t rare, and aren’t difficult to make more of.

However, if you are looking for a rarer species of turtle or tortoise, expect to drop at least a few hundred dollars.

Common Turtle Prices in the U.S.

Here is a general price range for some of the more common types of turtles and tortoises if you are based in North America.

  • Red-eared slider $5-$25
  • Common snapping turtle $20-$40
  • Common painted turtle $20-$40
  • Musk turtle $20-$40
  • Common wood turtle $20-$100
  • Albino red-eared slider ~$1,000
  • Albino snapping turtle ~$3-$5,000

These prices are all dependent on things such as; local availability and stock, season, etc.

In general, however, the more common species like red-eared sliders are probably never going to shoot up drastically in price (and if they do, that’s probably bad news for turtles and the rest of us!).

One last note. I would strongly urge you to consider visiting your local animal shelter to see if they have any turtles available for adoption.

Often times turtles do not live in very good conditions while they are being hauled around in the pet trade.

Adopting a turtle or tortoise can and does make a difference.

And of course…

Owning a Pet Turtle Can Be Expensive

This is simply the initial purchase price. The overall costs of owning a pet turtle often greatly exceed the purchase price of your turtle. In fact, many pet turtles owners are shocked to find that the initial purchase price of their new-found friend is one of the least inexpensive things they will have to pay for.

In order to properly care for a turtle as well as provide it with a healthy, nurturing environment, you will need:

Often times, the price of all of these things far exceeds that of the initial act of buying your turtle.

Thus, before making the decision to buy a new turtle, make sure you are able to get (and afford) all of the above products, as well as research the proper diet and its individual species needs.

Too often many people think of turtles as mindless, simple creatures that can live just fine in a small bowl filled with a few cups of dirty, unfiltered water, given nothing but protein pellets to eat.

Turtles deserve more than that.

About the Author

Hi, I'm J and I'm the chelonian-obsessed creator of this website. Feel free to leave a comment below, as unlike a snapping turtle, I promise I won't bite!

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