Turtle, Tortoise, Terrapin

1. 11. 2018 - 22.00

Expert Reviewed

How to Pet a Turtle

Two Parts:Petting a TurtleHandling TurtlesCommunity Q&A

Turtles are arguably the cutest of all of the reptiles. Because of this, they are often desirable pets. However, turtles don’t really enjoy being handled and petted the same way other domestic animals do.[1][2] This makes petting them a little trickier. For those of you who own a pet turtle/tortoise, this is how to pet one without injuring the turtle.


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Finish the Sea Turtle

H. South

It's time to finish your drawing and adding the final details is the best part.

Complete the shell by drawing lines that divide the outer band of the shell. These are short lines between your two egg shapes that curve slightly as you move around the shell.
Create the leathery texture of the turtle's skin by drawing a random pattern of little marks here and there. Be sure to get each flipper and add just a few dots along his neck, running up to the head.

That's all there is to it. You should now have an adorable, smiling sea turtle. You can add color or add a background as if he's swimming through the ocean or leave it as is

[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 14]

Practice proper hygiene. Always wash your hands after handling a turtle, as there are diseases on their skin that are harmful to people. Most experts suggest handling turtles with gloves, although this would defeat the purpose of petting a turtle. Also, remember that turtles spend most of their time in dirt and dirty water, so it may be wise to rinse the turtle off before handling it.

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Sand and rocks (some nice big outside rocks would do. I don't use the tiny ones for fear my turtle might mistake them as food and choke on them). Line the tank with aquarium sand or smooth river rocks. When the turtle is young, it will need an island or a shallow flat stone for when it feels like basking in a warm spot.

A heat lamp while they're young (unless you live in a warm sunny place and plan to keep your pet outside). Position the lamp over the shallowest area of the tank. Turtles don't make their own body heat and sometimes enjoy sunning themselves to regulate their temperature. They like it best around 82.5°F (28.1°C).
Water (non chlorinated just like fish tank water). The water in the tank should be shallow—about as deep as the length of your baby turtle's shell. Snappers are poor swimmers and can drown if the water's too deep.
Filtration. If you don't have a filter, you'll have to change the water quite often. The bigger your turtle gets, the more gunk they make, so seriously consider installing a water filtration system.
Time, care, and patience.

Can a turtle's skin really harm me with salmonella?
Pippa Elliott, MRCVS
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
Expert Answer
Yes. Turtles and other reptiles are common carries of the salmonella bug. This means they can be infected but not ill, but a person who handles the turtle and doesn't wash their hands can become sick. It's important to observe scrupulous hygiene when you own a turtle, wash your hands after handling, and regularly disinfect the area around the tank, door handles, and any surfaces you might touch whilst handling the reptile.
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Petting a Turtle

[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 1]
Approach from the front. If the turtle cannot see you and suddenly your hand appears, it may get frightened and bite you. Always approach a turtle from the front so that it can see you.
[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 2]

used it to create a beautiful display of multi-colored painted turtles.

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Start With an Egg Shape


We will begin the sea turtle by drawing the basic shapes of his body. This requires just a few simple lines and we'll fill in the details in the next step.

Begin by drawing a tilted egg shape for the sea turtle's body. The bottom part where his head will be should be rounded and a little larger than the top, which is slightly pointed.
Draw the front boomerang-shaped flippers, one on each side of where the head will be.
Add the two back flippers, which have an almost triangular shape. The flipper closest to you will be a little longer and larger than the back one which is mostly hidden by the shell.
Finish the outline by drawing the turtle's spoon-shaped head and neck.


Place turtles on a low, flat surface. Turtles will be the most receptive to human interaction when they feel safe and secure, so place them on the floor (preferably tile rather than carpet) when petting them.
[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 3]
Pet the top of the head. Gently run your finger on the middle-top of the turtle's head, carefully avoiding the nose/eyes.[3]

If the turtle repeatedly throws its head up in the air with its mouth open, it is trying to let you know that it does not like you touching its head.

[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 4]
Pet the chins and cheeks. Use your finger to gently rub the turtle under the chin and along the cheeks. [4]
[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 5]
Massage the neck. Once a turtle trusts you, you may be able to massage its neck with causing it to withdraw into its shell.[5]
[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 6]
Pet your turtle’s shell. Turtles can feel touch through their shells. As such, stroke your turtle's shell in slow circles or run your fingers in straight lines along the length of its shell.[6]

As an alternative to petting a turtle’s shell with your fingers, you can also gently rub a toothbrush or other soft-bristled brush along the top of its shell.

[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 7]
Enjoy some turtle lap time. As an alternative to petting the turtle, you can enjoy bonding with it by allowing it crawl on you or sit in your lap. Just make sure it doesn’t fall off.[7]

Turtles will urinate when you pick them up, so use caution when putting them on your body.

of 03

Add Detail to Your Turtle

H. South

Your turtle is going to come to life after this step because we're going to add a few details and give him more dimension.

Draw another egg shape inside the first to define the top of the turtle's shell. Let it join up with the top edge as shown to give it a three-dimensional look.
To draw the shell pattern, add a row of squashed diamond shapes along the middle of the shell.
Add the turtle's eye and mouth. Remember that we're only seeing one side of his head, so only one eye is needed.


[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 8]
Be persistent. Your turtle will not be receptive to being pet all the time, but the more you handle it, the more accustomed it will grow to human interaction.[8]

Turtles associate their human keepers with food, so try rewarding your turtle with a treat when it allows you to pet it.[9]

Handling Turtles

[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 9]
Know the risks. Turtles are not commonly thought of as dangerous animals capable of inflicting harm on human beings. However, a few breeds of turtles, particularly snapping turtles, are capable of inflicting a painful and potentially damaging bite. Also, turtles carry a number of diseases that can be harmful to humans. Turtle skin often has salmonella bacteria on it, which can make humans very sick.[10]

Salmonella can't be washed or rinsed off the turtle.
Never leave a child to handle a turtle unattended.
Veterinarian Pippa Elliott MRCVS explains: "Turtle bites are very painful and best avoided. If you are unsure how friendly the turtle is, pick them up at the back of the shell, where they can't reach should they decide to bite."

Turtle or tortoise?

Sheila Madrak, a San Diego-based wildlife biologist who specializes in sea turtles, has a simple answer.

“All of them are turtles,” she says.

The end.

[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 10]
Be patient. Just because you acquired a pet turtle does not make that turtle a domesticated animal. Unlike some cats and dogs, who will naturally seek affection from humans, turtles tend to view humans with hesitancy and fear. Because of this, you need to be patient with your turtle. It may take a very long time before the turtle learns to recognize and trust you as its caregiver.[11]
[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 11]
Handle with care. Turtles seem inherently rugged and tough because of their shells. However, the exposed legs and head can be easily damaged if the turtle is mishandled. Some tips for handling turtles with caution are:

Try to avoid picking up or handling the turtle unless necessary. When you do need to pick a smaller turtle up, place your open palm under its plastron (or bottom shell/ belly) and make sure its legs can touch your hand. In the wild, turtles don’t spend much, if any, of their time off of the ground. Having your hand underneath the turtle should make it more comfortable.[12]
Always lift turtles up from the back and not the front. Turtles are unpredictable and lifting the turtle from the front will give it an opportunity to bite you. Turtles may urinate when being picked up, which is yet another reason why you should wear gloves when handling them.[13]
Don’t place turtles on the edges of high surfaces. They are not always aware of their environment and may walk right off the edge, injuring themselves.[14]
As a general rule, it is not wise to touch a turtle’s legs or claws.
Remember, turtle shells are not invincible. Some turtles have soft shells that can be easily scratched or damaged, leading to fungal infections. Even hard shelled turtles can sustain damage to or break their shells- so be careful.[15]

[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 12]
Consider the temperature. Turtles are more energetic, aware and receptive when they are warm. Cold turtles are much more likely to shy away from external stimuli because they are not entirely sure what is going on around them. The best time to pet or handle a turtle is after it has been sunning itself or lying under a heat lamp.

Turtles need real sunlight, not just heat lamps or artificial sunlight. A lack of sunlight can lead to metabolic bone disease, which essentially disintegrates a turtle’s bones.[16]

If you decide you want to keep a baby snapping turtle, here is some things that you will need:

A tank. A ten gallon fish tank would be perfect for now; however, when your turtle grows to be 8 inches long, you'll need to consider moving it outside or upgrading to a 55 gallon container. The baby turtles need an island to rest on but adults don't.


[Image titled Pet a Turtle Step 13]
Understand turtle communication. Turtles are not the most communicative animals around. However, there are a few physical signs that your turtle is not in the mood for human contact. They include:

Sitting motionless with the mouth open
Withdrawing into the shell
Snapping or biting gestures



Is it safe for my 10 year old child to pet a turtle?
Pippa Elliott, MRCVS
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
Expert Answer
The FDA advise that turtles are common carriers of salmonella. Infection with the latter can be serious, especially in children, the elderly or those with a weak immune system. It is essential that any child is supervised with a turtle and be vigilant for the child putting a finger in their mouth, or even touching their hair (as the salmonella could be transferred to hair which the child then sucks.) If you want to be totally safe then a 10-year old should not pet a turtle, but at the very least ensure they wash their hands afterwards and don't put anything in their mouth.
Not Helpful 16Helpful 43
What does a turtle like to do?
wikiHow Staff Editor
Staff Answer
Turtles like having plenty of space in their enclosure to move around, getting a variety of different foods or treats and chasing live prey like crickets or small fish. Turtles may also enjoy having different toys or objects in their enclosure to explore and interact with. For even more ways to keep your turtle entertained, take a look at How to Keep Your Turtle Happy.
Not Helpful 1Helpful 3
Can a turtle recognize you?
wikiHow Staff Editor
Staff Answer
While turtles won't recognize a person as quickly as a dog will, over time, turtles actually will learn to recognize their owners, either by sight or sound. In some cases, turtles may even come when called!
Not Helpful 1Helpful 3
Do turtles have feelings?
wikiHow Staff Editor
Staff Answer
Some people think reptiles, like turtles, can show some basic feelings, the most clear being fear and aggression, but also things like curiosity or pleasure from human contact. Many turtles seem to enjoy getting their shell, head or chin stroked and may push towards your hand as you pet them. Doing things like enriching your turtle's environment with new things or taking them outside (being very careful to keep them contained) can give you a chance to see some more interesting behaviors and let you decide for yourself what kinds of things your pet can feel.
Not Helpful 0Helpful 1
Do turtles get lonely?
wikiHow Staff Editor
Staff Answer
Not really, since turtles aren't social animals they are happy to be left alone for long periods. While you can sometimes put two or more turtles in a tank, provided there is enough space, some species are too aggressive and even this can be a bad idea. Look up your particular species first if you want to keep two or more turtles.
Not Helpful 0Helpful 1
Do I need to hold the turtle everyday so he learns to trust me?
wikiHow Contributor
Community Answer
Yes, the more time that you spend with him, the better.
Not Helpful 6Helpful 82
When I pet my turtle, he tries to bite me. What do I do?
wikiHow Contributor
Community Answer
Turtles associate their human keepers with food, so try rewarding your turtle with a treat when it allows you to pet it.
Not Helpful 3Helpful 53
My turtle always hides and poops on me when I hold it. Is there any way to prevent this behavior?
wikiHow Contributor
Community Answer
Try to spend more time with your turtle. If your turtle grows a love for you, he or she should perfect this behavior. Therefore, try finding ways to get in close with your turtle without picking it up.
Not Helpful 4Helpful 56
How can I tell if a turtle is male or female?
wikiHow Contributor
Community Answer
If you look the bottom of the shell, males will have an indent in their shell. If you look at the bottom of a female shell, it'll be completely flat, unlike the males which have an indent.
Not Helpful 12Helpful 119

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How old should my turtle to be held by hand?
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will salmonella cause critical damage to a baby turtle?

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