If you own a pet turtle, then one of your primary considerations will be around keeping them safe. But equally, you will want to give them the best life, prevent boredom and also give them an opportunity to stretch their legs and get some exercise. But what about letting them walk around? Is this safe, preferable, or even a good thing to do? I decided to do some research. I would like to share my findings with you today so you know exactly how to approach this area of their care.
So, should you let your turtle walk around? You should look to let your turtle walk around. This will provide them with exercise, mental stimulation, and will meet their natural inclination to explore. You can let your turtle walk around both inside and outside; so long as you prepare the area in advance and ensure it is safe.
You will also need to be present and supervise your turtle as they walk around, looking out for potential danger.
The main ones are other animals (and/or pets), exposure to too much sunlight and loose items that can cause harm in the environment.
Along with regular walks, both inside your home and outside in your backyard, you should ensure that you have a sufficiently large enclosure for your pet turtle.
You need to ensure they have sufficient space to roam when you are not around or able to take them ‘for a walk’.
Let us now take a look at the most commonly asked question related to the subject. We’ll be taking a look at all you need to know so be sure to read to the end!
Should I Let My Turtle Walk Around?
In short, yes; you should definitely be looking to let your turtle walk around. There are conditions to it, though.
Walking is a great form of exercise for turtles and it also keeps them from getting bored.
People might view turtles as aimless but in reality, they are motivated to walk around and explore; it’s a natural tendency.
They can get bored if they remain in a confined space all of the time.
Another reason to let your turtle walk around is to keep them occupied while you clean their tank. Regular and thorough cleaning is necessary for your pet’s enclosure.
Since turtles can carry salmonella, their enclosure should be always and routinely be cleaned to reduce the risk of you and others getting sick.
One of the main conditions when walking your turtle is to always be there to supervise them. This means keeping an eye on them as well as making sure that the area it will explore is safe.
Turtle tanks are usually made up of two areas, a pool, and a dry landing.
Experts recommend a tank with a 20-40 gallon capacity, depending on the size of your turtle and what species it belongs to.
Therefore, as an owner, you need to ensure that your pet turtles tank is sufficiently large enough.
This will enable them to roam and explore their environment even when you are away and not able to let them out.
Ultimately, the better and larger the enclosure, the more time they will be able to spend without the risks of boredom coming into play.
One thing about owning a pet turtle is the possibility of it carrying salmonella. Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause digestive issues and distress if digested by people.
Usually, we get it from fresh greens and other foods that have not been cooked well. Most turtle species carry this bacteria and transmit it through their droppings.
Since turtle tanks are made up of wet and dry parts, it follows that when your pet poops, it can contaminate most of the tank.
You, therefore, need to be careful each and every time you open it up or attempt to access your turtle.
Turtles are not affected by the bacteria but the water and basically the entire enclosure should be treated with utmost care.
This is the reason why a lot of turtle owners don’t leave their pets in wet and dry tanks all the time.
You should be aware of the dangers of the bacteria and practice very strict hygiene when it comes to handling your pet.
Always wash your hands and arms, before and after you handle them. This is very important each time you get them out of the enclosure or return them to it.
Take note of the places where they poop or pee so you can clean it well and disinfect the area.
Should I Let My Turtle Out Of Its Tank?
Yes, by all means, you can let your turtle roam around in an enclosed area. So long as plan ahead and can supervise.
One of the best ways to do this is to let them loose in a closed room. In this way, you shouldn’t lose your turtle too easily and they are unlikely to come to any harm. There are a lot more variables that you can control in this kind of setting.
Make sure you clean the floor of the room where you plan to let your turtle walk around.
These pets tend to just walk aimlessly around until they reach a wall and then either go back where they came from or follow the perimeter of the wall.
If the floor is dusty, your turtle will likely be covered with dust the next time you see them.
Always take note of their poop or pee. As previously mentioned, Salmonella is carried in turtles’ poop and this bacteria is strong and persistent – easily leading to diarrhea and an upset stomach to anyone who ingests it.
If you have children, it is best to disinfect the floor where your turtle was walking around to be on the safe side.
Can You Walk Your Turtle?
Some owners will also take their pet turtles out for a walk.
This is to say, there are even special harnesses and leashes that you can get for them. This is actually quite interesting since these pets are slow-moving.
Whether you decide to invest in a harness or not, when it comes to walking your pet turtle they are known to move in particular ways.
They tend to set off and see where they can reach. Usually, their movement is motivated by food so expect your turtle to head to shrubbery to forage.
Do not expect to get any personal exercise from walking your turtle.
They are slow-moving and they do not like to stay in places where they are exposed. They like to stay under rocks and foliage and check out their surroundings.
Therefore, walking your turtle is very much walking them and for them. You will not be walking much yourself.
Nonetheless, you should remain present and alert to where they are going and any sudden changes in the environment that may be a potential concern or risk.
Can I Let My Turtle Outside?
Yes, you can look to take your turtle outside. Of course, an outside space inherently carries more risk and potential dangers than an enclosed space and room. Therefore you need to plan ahead, be vigilant, and do all you can to keep your turtle safe.
A lot of pet owners want their pets to experience the world and step on the grass and soil.
Turtles are no different; they also enjoy roaming around and exploring their surroundings.
I cannot stress enough, how important it is to be present, supervise and keep an eye on your turtle. Especially if you take them outside!
Although turtles are notoriously slow, they can be persistent when it comes to going places. If you let them loose in a large yard, you might lose sight of them and can even lose them for weeks.
Some turtle pet owners suggest using a wire pen, the same used for small dogs, as an enclosure for the turtle while outdoors.
One thing that you have to look out for with a wire pen is that turtle can poke their head under the enclosure and decisively move forward.
Some turtles can move the pen this way or they can escape by squeezing under the enclosure. It may be useful to use pegs to hold the enclosure down to discourage your pet from squeezing through.
An enclosed garden is also ideal for turtle exploration. A walled garden can limit the area and prevent them from getting lost.
Small gaps between the walls or under gates can be the turtle’s way out of the walled garden.
They can get stuck under the gate or between the walls since they are not actually careful animals.
Always check the area for other animals. Although turtles have really hard shells, some dogs, cats, and birds of prey are known to try and capture them in the wild for food.
Exposing your turtle to other animals can also put the other animals in danger of acquiring salmonella.
Mammals are prone to this particular bacteria which makes domesticated dogs and cats vulnerable to it.
In most cases, your dog or cat might just suffer from a severe bout of diarrhea but this means they also carry the bacteria and can also transmit it to you and other humans.
Other things to look out for are:
- Treated grass (herbicides such as Roundup),
- Holes and Gaps in pavements,
- Construction/Loud Noises.
Owning a turtle means taking on the responsibility of meeting their natural needs and requirements.
In order to do this, it’s imperative to educate yourself, plan ahead of time and do all that you can to provide for them. Things such as their diet, habitat, and health issues are just some examples.
Exercise, in the form of walking, is another. While this may be very different from walking another pet, such as a dog, it’s equally as important.
Relieving boredom and giving your turtle the ability to explore are some of the main benefits for them.
Equally, it can give you time to bond with your pet and even an opportunity to clean their tank/enclosure.
That being said you should always remain present and alert whenever you do decide to get your turtle out of its enclosure.
You need to optimize the environment, minimize the risk of harm, and be wary of other unexpected events or factors that can arise. Other pets and animals are one such example.
You never want to put your turtle at risk – so erring on the side of the caution is always best.
Ultimately, turtles are great to have as pets. They are relatively easy to take care of and meet their needs and requirements.
Most veterinarians have more than a basic background on them so there is not usually a problem when you need to consult them for your turtle’s health.
The lifespan of most pet turtles ranges from 6-80 years, depending on how you take care of them and what species they are.
Nonetheless, doing all you can to give them the best life is an important part of turtle ownership – regardless of how long they are with you for!
Looking to learn more about turtles? My following guides may be of interest:
- Do Turtles Smell? [Expectations For New Pet Turtle Owners]
- How Long Can Turtles Go Without Eating? [Owners Guide]
- Do Turtles Get Attached To Their Owners? [Can You Bond?]
- Do Turtles Have Tongues? [Information You Need To Know ]
- Do Pet Turtles Bite? [What Owners Should Be Aware Of]
- Can Turtles Live With Fish? [Is It Safe For & Okay For Either?]
- Can Turtles Sleep Underwater? [I Couldn’t Believe This Either]
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.