Aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles are a popular choice of pet. At the same time, there are many different aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles that you can keep as pets. However, when looking at owning a turtle as a pet, I was unsure if all turtle species would be able to learn to trust me or even develop a bond with me.
There are a few different methods you can use to get your turtle to trust you, and in this article, I will be going through some of the best practices you can use to get your turtle to trust you and what species of turtles are the best to keep if you want your turtle to trust you.
Turtles are shy by nature -which can lead to a lot of frustrating behavior every time you enter the room or space you keep your turtle.
Building a friendship with your turtle is key to gaining its trust. You can use the methods below as a guideline to help develop and maintain your turtle’s trust.
5 Methods you can use to get your turtle to trust you
Regular observation or socialization is paramount to gaining your turtle’s trust. To your turtle, you are big and scary, which can cause quite a bit of stress.
The first step is to notice where your turtle is most comfortable in his cage. What sounds and motions scare him? When is he the most active at what time during the day or night?
Unfortunately, most loud sounds and fast movements can scare your turtle. To combat this, it is a good idea to stand close to your turtle’s cage and make slow movements while watching your turtle.
By doing this, your turtle will get used to your presence while you make your observations about his behavioral patterns.
Build a safe zone for your turtle
When setting up your turtle’s tank, it is essential to create a safe zone for your turtle to hide when he feels threatened or scared.
You can use any turtle hides or half-logs to create this safe zone. Safe zones help create a comfort zone for your turtle, which will help reduce the amount of stress your turtle experiences during the initial observation periods and feeding times.
The hiding zone is a calming space – By not entering the zone you can show your turtle you are not a threat and build trust at a faster rate.
When you feed or interact with your turtle, it is crucial never to enter his safe zone; by doing this, you will show your turtle that you pose no threat to them, which will help to build trust with your turtle.
Food Association or Food training
Food association, or rather food training, is an excellent way to help you and your turtle build trust and get used to each other.
Building a routine is another critical factor in getting your turtle to trust you, and the perfect tool to use to create a routine is food. Try to feed your turtle at the same time every day; this will allow you and your turtle some quality time with each other as you watch him eat.
Eventually, you will want to get your turtle to eat from your hand. To do this is not difficult, but it will take a lot of time to build your turtle’s trust in you slowly.
Start by placing your turtle’s food in his cage and then either sit or stand next to the cage; while your turtle is eating, make a few slow movements with your body.
Over time, your turtle will get used to your presence during feeding time and learn not to be afraid of you when it comes to eating from your hand.
Crickets, bloodworms, shrimp, mealworms and aquatic snails are excellent live food choices for your turtle. They help to encourage hand feeding and help distract you turtle from your presence
Once your turtle is used to eating around you, you can slowly start feeding him by hand. At this stage, you should know what his favorite food item is, and that food item will be the perfect way to get him to eat from your hand.
Take your turtle’s favorite food item and place it roughly 15cm or 6inches away from your turtle’s mouth. It is essential to be patient as it could take some time for your turtle to eat from your hand.
If you are using lettuce or vegetables, you can switch over to live food, which can help encourage him to eat from you.
Pet Your Turtle
When your turtle is used to your presence and eating out of your hand, it is an excellent time to develop trust through touch.
Many turtles enjoy the attention from physical touch, and petting them will help you develop a stronger bond with your turtle.
The best time to start introducing your turtle to physical touch is when he is eating. It is important to note that your turtle will only accept touch when comfortable eating out of your hand.
Petting your turtle regularly will help reduce shyness around humans and help establish a positive relationship with you.
Start by feeding your turtle and while he is eating, gently pet the back of his neck and head; if his head retracts and he stops eating, stop touching him and continue to work on him being comfortable with hand feeding.
When your turtle is comfortable around you, and you can touch him on his neck and head during feeding, you can begin to pick him up.
There are a few ways to hold your turtle, and below is an excellent video on how to pick up and hold your turtle properly.
Minimize your interactions
Some species of turtles, such as the Eastern Box Turtles, are shy by nature. To gain these turtle’s, make sure you keep your interactions are gentle and minimal; if your turtle is hiding or resting, do not harass him, instead wait until he comes out for feeding.
How long will it take for your turtle to trust you?
A few factors will affect the amount of time it will take your turtle to trust you. The amount of time you spend getting your turtle used to you is one factor, and if you use the steps above and be patient with your turtle, you should be able to gain its trust in no time at all.
There are a few factors which will affect how long it takes to gain your turtle’s trust – The amount of time you spend with your turtle and the species of turtle your turtle belongs to.
Turtle Species That Are Known For Bonding And Gaining Trust Easily
It is essential to know what species of turtle enjoys affection and human interaction; are willing to trust you more, and which species of turtles don’t want too much interaction.
Below is a table of the ten best species of turtles to own;
|Turtle Name||Indoors/Outdoors||Likes Affection||Easy to Gain Trust|
|Red-eared Slider ||Both (They prefer warm temperature water)||Yes||Friendly and Sociable – a popular choice for all turtle owners|
|African Sideneck Turtle||Indoors (Need a 75-gallon tank and regular cleaning)||Yes||They can be curious; if you don’t force interactions.|
|Eastern Box Turtle||Both (They prefer a humid environment and can pick up respiratory issues if the habitat is too cold and dry)||No||They can be shy, so minimal handling and gentle interaction are needed to gain trust.|
|Western Painted turtle||Both (They need a large tank or pond with a sound water filtration system)||No||They are pretty shy and don’t enjoy frequent handling.|
|Mississippi Map Turtle||Indoors (They don’t need a large tank, they need clean water and good lighting)||No||They can be wary of people, so they are prone to stress – keep handling to a minimum.|
|Common Musk Turtle (Stinkpot) ||Indoors (They need plenty of areas to get out of the water to bask under UVB lighting.||No||They can be feisty when handled – if they feel threatened, they will release a foul and musky odor|
|Spotted Turtle ||Both (Once matured, they thrive better in an outdoors enclosure)||No||Curious, alert, and active – they don’t enjoy being handled|
|Yellow-Bellied Slider||Both (When Matured will thrive in an outdoors enclosure)||No||They don’t like the handling and will bite when threatened.|
|Reeve’s Turtle ||Both (Indoors enclosures will work well as they don’t require a lot of space)||Yes||The most sociable on this list – they even like being stroked.|
|Wood Turtle ||Outdoors (They need a decent sized enclosure with a low water level)||Yes||They are known to be extremely friendly and enjoy being handled by humans with the correct interaction.|
Getting your turtle to trust you takes a lot of patience, time, and effort, and while some species of turtles will trust you quicker than others, each turtle is unique and has its own set of individual quirks and challenges.