Painted turtles are common pet turtles and are often offered in pairs or groups in pet shops. Also, they can live upwards of 50 years, which begs the question: Does my turtle need a companion?
Two painted turtles can live together in the same tank as long as they are not both males. Males are territorial and can get aggressive towards each other. While painted turtles can live together, they are not social creatures and don’t really need company.
Let’s dive into what you’ll need to know before keeping two painted turtles in the same habitat.
Painted Turtles Can Live Together
Turtles aren’t necessarily social creatures. In the wild, they share environments with each other and may interact with each other. For example, wild turtles need to bask somewhere and you’ll often see multiple turtles sharing the same basking spot.
However, they don’t seek out each other’s company the way dogs may seek companionship from one another. It’s more common for turtle owners to add turtle-friendly fish to their turtle’s tank than another turtle because of this.
When deciding on a pair of painted turtles to live together in captivity, it’s important to think about the painted turtle’s natural instincts.
- Females don’t have to compete with each other in the wild and, as a result, pairs of female turtles tend to do well in captivity.
- Male and female turtles do fine with each other behaviorally because there is no competition the two. However, you do risk male and female turtles mating with each other.
- Male turtles have to compete with each other to find a mate and can become territorial, so housing two male painted turtles together could be unsafe.
As you can see in the video below, some turtle keepers don’t believe that turtles enjoy living together enough to risk them fighting or being unhappy.
Some keepers feel that the larger issue is that turtle’s don’t prefer to live in a tank with more of their own species, but that turtles can get along great with another outside of their species. There are plenty of resources on Youtube or on forums that give first-hand experience to turtle tank mates.
Of course, two turtles living together would have to have the same care requirements to thrive. The safest pairing of two painted turtles will likely be two females unless you’re a responsible breeder looking to own a breeding pair.
How Big of a Tank Do Two Turtles Need
You can find a lot of information and opinions about the correct size of tank for a single adult turtle. The Pet Supply Guy Calculator, for example, shows you the size tank you should need based on the size of your turtle.
A turtle’s measurements correlate directly to tank size; every inch of your turtle’s shell equates to 10-gallons of water.
- 3.8-inch turtle needs a 38-gallon tank
- 6.8-inch turtle needs a 68-gallon tank
- 11.5-inch turtle needs a 115-gallon tank
The general rule of thumb is that if you have two turtles in one tank, you need to add another half of the single turtle’s tank requirement to house a second turtle. For example:
- Two 3.8-inch turtles would need at least 57 gallons
- Two 6.8-inch turtles would need at least 102 gallons
- Two 11.5-inch turtles would need at least 172.5 gallons
The bigger the tank that you can give your turtles, the happier and healthier they’ll be.
A bigger tank will require a bigger filter in order to manage the waste that multiple turtles produce. Too much ammonia in a turtle tank can cause them to become ill, and two turtles produce double the waste you’re used to managing for a single turtle.
It’s smart to purchase test kits and regularly check your turtle’s water to ensure chemical levels are balanced, keeping your turtles happy and healthy.
Some other things to consider when moving two turtles into a larger tank together are the things that allow them to behave naturally and be comfortable. A larger tank will require a larger heater to keep the environment warm enough for two turtles.
Turtles require a basking spot, and you would either need to provide one large enough for two turtles at the same time or provide multiple basking spots.
If your turtles seem to be bullying each other or don’t prefer to share, you can arrange their tank in a way that gives each turtle a place to enjoy by themselves.
This would allow them to have their own space or territory and may make the transition to living with another turtle easier. Any enrichment you provide for your turtle may need to be doubled so that each turtle can participate in its fair share.
Can Turtles Living Together Be Different Ages?
Turtle owners don’t always start out with two turtles at once, which is understandable. You want to make sure you’re doing everything right before bringing home a second turtle.
Something to think about when deciding to bring another turtle home is the compatibility of the age of turtles you plan to house together.
Housing turtles of different ages or sizes together can lead to bullying. Smaller, younger turtles may be picked on by older, larger turtles. You may have an easier time introducing turtles close in age or size than introducing a baby turtle to your adult.
Typically, juvenile turtles are best housed with other juvenile turtles and adult turtles are best housed with other adult turtles. This levels the playing field and gives each turtle a fair chance to stand up for themselves.
Housing two painted turtles together is definitely doable and can be a fun experience for a pet owner. It’s important to keep in mind sex, age, and tank requirements when determining turtle compatibility.
Ultimately, it’s up to your turtles to decide that they enjoy living together. Whether they live together or apart, two turtles can bring twice the enjoyment to their owners!