How Much Do Turtles Cost?

Turtles like any other animal, are not cheap to keep as pets. They require specific homes and need a controlled temperature and environment.

When you are looking to purchase a turtle, there are a few different costs you will need to consider, such as the initial cost to purchase, the turtle’s set up, vets bills, food, and general upkeep costs.

The prices we will discuss in this article are rough estimates as the costs will vary depending on the options you choose.

We will also be talking about tortoises and the costs they incur. While they are different species, they are often compared. We will talk you through their differences and similarities. 

How Much Do Turtles Cost?

Musk Turtles

These are fairly small turtles that spend the majority of their time in the water.

They can come in a variety of different species, such as razorback, and common musk. They cost anywhere from $20 to $70. 

Map Turtles

These are a popular choice of turtle. Some of the breeds include a false map and northern map.

These turtles are known for their carapaces markings which resemble different maps. They cost from $20 to $1000 depending on where you purchase the turtle. 

Slider Turtles

These are another popular choice. Some of their species include the red ear sliders. These tend to be the most common turtles people keep.

They are more sociable in comparison to other turtles. They cost around $20.

Box turtles

These need more space in comparison to other turtles. They are called box turtles due to the box shape of their shell. They mainly live on land, but require shallow water too. They cost around $25 to $50. 

There are other breeds of turtles you can purchase, such as snapping, wood, spotted, mud, and painted. Their prices start from around $20 to $25. 

There are other factors included in the cost too. An older turtle will be more expensive than a hatchling, due to its size. Breeders tend to charge more money in comparison to a pet store as they are specialists in this field. 

The Cost Of A Tortoise

The cost of a tortoise will vary depending on the age and the seller or breeder.

A tortoise can live up to 150 years. If you purchase an older tortoise, it will cost more in comparison to a hatchling, especially if you have purchased it from a breeder.

Purchasing a tortoise from a breeder will be more expensive than purchasing from a store as they are experts in the field and will have specific breeds. The rarer the breed, the more expensive the tortoise.

Here is a rough idea of the prices for the more popular tortoise breeds:

Meditteranean Spur-Thighed Tortoise

These are a popular choice for beginners and are fairly easy to keep. They live for around 125 years.

They remain fairly small in comparison to other tortoises. They cost around $150 depending on the age.

African Spur-Thighed Tortoise

This another common choice for pet tortoises. They grow up to three feet long and require a much larger space.

They cost around $50 for a hatchling and up to $500 to $600 for an older tortoise.

Red-Footed Tortoise

This is a South-American turtle. These are fairly inexpensive in comparison to some other turtle breeds as they are fairly popular. They cost around $150.

There are other tortoise breeds available to purchase, such as leopard, Hermann’s, and Russian. 

The Turtles Set Up Cost - Aquarium and Outside

The cost of the turtle enclosure will vary, depending on the size and the type of enclosure you purchase.

If you have purchased a fairly small turtle, the cost of the tank or aquarium will be less expensive. The larger the turtle, the more expensive the enclosure will be. In addition to this, many turtles will need both water and dry, basking areas. 

Depending on the type of turtle that you purchase, you can choose to keep them outside. Musk and snapping turtles are used to the climate of North America as this is where they originate. However, you have to keep a close eye on weather changes if you are planning to keep turtles outside. 

Aquarium

The cost of an aquarium will vary depending on the type of aquarium you purchase. When looking to purchase an aquarium, smaller turtles will need at least 30 gallons.

This is a minimum and as they grow you may need to replace the tank with one that is bigger. For a tank this size, you are looking at around $100 to $150 at a minimum. 

Realistically, a 40-gallon tank and upwards is what you should be looking for. A particularly large turtle will need up to 100 or 120 gallons. The bigger tank you can purchase the better, but the larger the tank the more expensive it will be. The tanks can cost up to prices of $700 or so.

Outdoors

As mentioned above, if the turtles are native to the area you are living in, they can be kept outdoors.

While the turtle enclosures cost around $200, if you do not already own a pond these can cost a few thousand dollars. 

The Tortoise Set Up Cost

As tortoises are land creatures, they do not need an aquarium like the majority of turtles. Given this, their enclosure does tend to be cheaper in comparison to turtles.

While you can keep tortoises outside, during the colder months, or if you live where there is a cold climate, they will need to be housed inside.

Tortoises that are kept outside should be housed in tortoise houses. These are typically made from wood and will have two sections. However, you can build your shelter for the. You will need to ensure that the turtle cannot escape, however. 

If you keep your tortoise inside, they will be kept in a tortoise table, which is very similar to a tortoise house. Tortoise tables help to keep your tortoise at the correct temperature. Tortoise tables can have a lid or they can be purchased without. If you own other animals, an enclosed table is recommended. 

The price will vary depending on the size you purchase. On average they cost around $100 to $250. We would recommend purchasing a large table or house because tortoises do grow to a significant size.

Other Turtle Necessities

When you purchase a turtle, the cost does not end with the aquarium or pond, there are many additional necessities that turtles need. 

These necessities, such as a filter, and heat lamp, help to provide the perfect living environment for your turtle. 

Without these necessities, your turtle would not be able to survive. Given this, you will need to purchase these items too. 

Filter

A filter is essential. This will help to keep the water in the tank clean and prevents dangerous levels of ammonia for example from remaining in the water.

When you purchase an aquarium it likely comes with a filter. While this filter would be suitable for fish, you will need a bigger and stronger one for your turtle tank. 

We would recommend purchasing an external filter. This will sit outside of the tank and will not take up space within the tank. They tend to be more powerful.

The size of the filter you will need will vary, depending on the size of the tank you have. The filter should work at double the gallons of your tank. For example, a 100-gallon tank will need a filter created for a 200-gallon tank. 

The larger the filter is the more expensive it will be. They can range anywhere from $80 to $200 depending on the size and the brand. 

While the filter will come with everything you need initially, you will need to purchase replacement components such as the filter pads in the future, which is worth keeping in mind. 

Water Heater

The water heater is equally as important and will ensure that the water will remain at the temperature turtles need. The majority of water heaters self regulate and turn off and on when needed.

The temperature should also be adjustable. The temperature of the water should be around 82 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Heaters are purchased at different watts. The higher the watts, the bigger the tank it will heat. The majority of heaters will state how many gallons of water they heat. You will need to purchase a heater suitable for the size of your tank. Filters can range from $26 to around $60. 

Water Conditioner

A water conditioning treatment is important. It will help to keep the water in your tank safe. Water conditioners are sometimes known as tap safe.

This conditioner needs to be placed into the tank when it is first set up and every time you carry out a water change. It lowers the hardness in the water and removes chlorine that can harm turtles. 

It is fairly inexpensive to purchase and can come in a range of different bottle sizes. It typically costs around $10 to $15. 

Basking Lamp

Turtles are cold-blooded. Like many reptiles, they require a basking lamp. This will help to normalize and regulate their body temperature. You will need to purchase a basking light big enough for a turtle and a bracket to hold it in place. 

A basking bracket will cost around $25 and the lamp will cost around $30. The bulbs will need to be replaced every few months. 

UVB Lamp and Reflector

Turtles also need a UVB lamp and reflector. This lamp works differently from a basking lamp and will heat the environment as a whole. This lamp will also need to be replaced regularly and should be kept on for around 12 hours a day.

The reflector will cost around $30 and the UVB lamp will cost around $15 to $20.

Thermostat

A thermostat is needed to ensure that the overall temperature of your turtle's aquarium is correct.

This will keep track of the temperature of your heat lamp. They tend to cost around $50 to $60. 

Basking Platform/Ramp

Even though the majority of turtles spend most of their time in the water, they also need to bask. You will need to purchase a ramp that comes out of the water and directs your turtle to the basking platform. Ramps typically cost from $10 to around $40.

A basking platform is needed for your turtles to bask under the light out of the water. These platforms can vary in price depending on the size, from $15 to over $100. 

Tank Accessories

In addition to the essentials mentioned above, you should also have things such as a hiding spot, a food bowl, and artificial plants within the aquarium. You can use turtle friendly stones and decorations within the tank too.

The price of these items will vary depending on what you purchase, from a few dollars to those that are more expensive.

Outdoor Turtle Set Up Cost

If you are keeping your turtles outdoors, they will still need shelter, a basking area, and water plants.

Ponds will still need a filtration system whether that is a filter, waterfalls, or an air stone. The prices of these items will vary, depending on what you purchase.

The Tortoise Set Up Cost

When it comes to a tortoise setup, it is usually less expensive than turtles.

You do not need to purchase filters and water heaters. However, there is still a fair cost to the items you need to purchase for a tortoise set up.

Here is everything you will need:

Heat Lamp

As with turtles, tortoises need a heat lamp to bask. This should only take up a portion of their table. As they self regulate their heat, they need cooler areas too. 

If you are planning to keep your tortoise outside, we would recommend placing a heat lamp in their shelter. While they will receive heat from the sun, they will need the lamp when inside their shelter for cooler days.

The heat lamps cost around $30 and the bracket is around $25. 

UVB Lamp and Reflector

Tortoise also need a UVB lamp and reflector to correctly heat their enclosure.

It provides them with much-needed vitamin D. The reflector will cost around $30 and the UVB lamp will cost around $15. The lamp will need to be replaced regularly.

Thermostat

A thermostat is needed to keep track of the temperatures within the enclosure.

While they are fairly expensive at around $50 to $60, they are essential. They will help you to keep a close eye on if the temperature rises or cools drastically.

Substrate

Regardless of if your tortoise is being kept inside or outside, you will need to place the substrate in their enclosure. The substrate mimics the substrate found in their natural habitat. 

There are a few different kinds of substrate that are suitable for tortoises. The most common is coconut fiber, which can be purchased in a block or loose. Coconut fiber and sphagnum moss are a good combination for substrate. 

The substrate will need to be purchased regularly. The cost will vary, but it tends to be around $30. 

Food and Water Bowls

Your tortoise needs to have food and water bowls.

These should not cost a lot of money, around $5 to $10. 

Enclosure Accessories

While tortoises do not need toys, they do need enclosure accessories, such as logs, rocks, and artificial plants. 

The cost of these will vary depending on what you choose, but you should have a good amount of enrichment within the enclosure.

Even if you are planning to keep your tortoise outside in the warmer months, they will still need all of the accessories mentioned above. 

Turtle Food

The last essentials you will need for your turtle is turtle food. While this is not particularly expensive, it is something you will need to regularly purchase. You should factor in this cost before purchasing a turtle. 

Turtles typically eat animal protein, such as grubs, earthworms, beetles, and crickets. Although they are mostly carnivorous creatures, they can have small amounts of flowers, grasses, kale, berries, and mushrooms, for example, too.

While you can have a cricket farm to feed your turtle, many people will opt to purchase a turtle diet food instead. This comes in a tub and has feeding instructions on the label. 

This is the easiest method. It is a whole food and contains all of the nutrients turtles need. It costs around $20 to $30. You should also give turtles a small number of flowers, grasses, greens, or berries. You should always ensure this is safe for turtles to eat first. 

Tortoise Food

Unlike turtles, tortoises and not carnivorous creatures. Their diet needs to be made up of 80% fresh vegetables. They can eat a wide variety of these, such as kale, cauliflower, squash, cabbage, and carrot. 

They can also eat dandelions, hay, and grass which should make up the rest of their diet. In addition to this, they can have fruit treats such as berries. 

Tortoise should have vegetables daily and they need to have calcium dust and vitamin A a few times a week to ensure that they are receiving all of the nutrients that they need. 

The food cost will vary depending on what vegetables you purchase, but on average it should be around $30 a month. The vitamin and calcium dusting will not need to be purchased every month and usually costs under $10.

Vets Bills

Finally, you will need to factor in the vet's bills that come with having a pet. As turtles and tortoises are classed as specialist pets, their vet bills tend to be a little bit more expensive in comparison to a cat or dog’s bills. 

Often turtles and tortoises need to be seen by specialist vets as not all vets are trained in treating them. They will both need to see an amphibian vet if they are ill and for yearly check-ups. 

The costs can vary for each initial check-up and if there is any treatment your turtle or tortoise may need. 

Insurance

In addition to vet bills, it is worth looking into insuring your turtle or tortoise.

While this is a monthly recurring cost, it will give you peace of mind if they were to fall ill. As they live for a long period, it is certainly worth considering. 

Summary

Turtles and tortoises and not cheap animals to purchase. While their initial set up is an investment, the costs are lowered per month once you have all of the accessories you need.

However, you will still need to purchase, food, supplements, possibly insurance and purchase extra lights, filter pads, and substrate. 

It is difficult to put an exact price on how expensive each animal is. The price will vary depending on the animal and breed you purchase and the tank or home you choose. 

On overage, a turtle or tortoise can cost anywhere from around $600 to $1500 and more. While they are not the cheapest animals to purchase, they are fantastic pets.

They do require a long commitment. Given this, you will need to be sure that you want to make this commitment before purchasing a turtle or tortoise. 

Dorothy Razo
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