Pet turtles are commonly referred to as ‘terrapins’ in the United Kingdom and include all kinds of turtles. However, there are some terrapins that are specific to a certain kind of environment, such as the diamondback terrapin which lives in and near brackish water.
Terrapin, in the rest of the world, also refers generally to a kind of turtle that lives exclusively in fresh water. Terrapins are usually more similar to sea turtles with their webbed feet and thinner shells than to other kinds of turtles.
But depending on which country you're in, like the UK for instance, if terrapin refers to pet turtle than there are many different kinds you're likely to hear about.
A quick overview of each type should give you some idea of what kind of care it would require as a pet. As far as sea turtles are concerned it's generally not easy or cost-effective to keep as pets and seeing as many are endangered you probably wouldn't be allowed to anyway. But the box turtle is yours for the taking.
As is the red-eared slider, the yellow bellied terrapin and the painted terrapin. (The yellow bellied is simply a painted terrapin with a yellow plastron. ) The red-eared slider is also known as the Chinese terrapin in some locales and the box turtle (in the United States) is also known as a tortoise in the UK and Australia.
The red-eared slider is a semi-aquatic reptile which means it needs both land and water masses to be comfortable and healthy. Similarly, the painted terrapin is also semi-aquatic and both types of turtles need warm temperatures to thrive in as well as a lot of natural, unfiltered sunlight daily for shell-health.
The box turtle or tortoise, on the other hand, is a purely land-based reptile and does not need water except to drink occasionally. The box turtle does, however, require much greater care while handling than the other species and it is not recommended as a pet for small children.
It generally isn't recommended as a pet because box turtles must live around the area they were born in. So if you don't breed turtles and it wasn't born in your garden, don't make it live there.
However, if you do get your hands on one then make sure it has an outdoor (and very safe!) enclosure as these chelonian critters need plenty of sunlight.
Apart from that, do some basic research on the kind of pet you want and the kind of habitat and care you can provide for it and, well, you're set to own a pet!
Liked this article? Read more at: Common Pet Terrapins