A Manual for Caring for Spotted Turtles as Pets

spotted turtle

One of the smallest semi-aquatic turtle species that may be maintained as a pet is the spotted turtle. They may be found in various parts of Canada's southern provinces, the Eastern and Midwestern United States, and the Midwestern United States.

Because they are cute, not overly large, and adapt well to both indoor and outdoor living, they are a popular option for pets. However, choosing to take on a Clemmy should not be a hasty decision. They require a lot of attention to be healthy, and they will probably outlast you. Some have been known to live past the age of fifty.

Breed Overview

Common Names: Spotted Turtle, Clemmy, Michigan Spotted Turtle

Scientific Name: Clemmys Guttata

Adult Size: 4 to 6 inches

Life Expectancy: Can easily live up to 26 years, with some recorded as living over 50 years

Spotted Turtle Behavior and Temperament

Due to their little size, the Spotted Turtle is a well-known semi-aquatic turtle species. This does not imply that they are simple to take care of, though. Like other aquatic turtles, they have certain housing and feeding requirements that must be taken into account.

The yellow spots that this species develops on its carapace make it quite distinguishable from other species (the upper part of their shell). Juveniles often have fewer of them, whereas mature adults might occasionally have over 100 of them. The cheeks and neck are also covered with the patches.

Like the Common Musk Turtle, this is another very small species, and they are usually only between four to six inches in size when fully mature.

The older the turtle gets, the easier it is to identify the gender of your Clemmys Guttata. The chin of the female is reddish, while that of the male is black. The tail of the male is also broader and longer. Despite being a semi-aquatic species, they like to stay in the shallows and are not well-known for their swimming abilities.

Spotted Turtles are a curious, alert and active species but, as with most aquatic turtles, they can become stressed by over-handling. They are best observed without too much interference.

If handling is necessary, try to keep it to a minimum and always remember to wash your hands after. Aquatic turtles have a slight chance of carrying salmonella bacterium.

Housing the Spotted Turtle

You may keep this species outdoors or inside. Once they are completely grown, they often fare best when maintained in an appropriate outside habitat.

They shouldn't be held in a space with deep water. They may drown or become extremely exhausted as a result since they are not great swimmers. In general, the water should be kept at a level where people can reach the surface while resting their feet on the ground. Hatchlings spend most of their time in the water and only come out to bask. You could note that as they become older, they spend less time in the water.

They have many of places to relax outside the water because their cage has logs and high platforms. Additionally, it indicates that kids are receiving more enrichment and exercise. Utilizing plastic or aquatic plants also provides hiding places. Ensure that the spots for soaking up the sun away from the water are accessible and dry. It is simpler for your turtle to exit the water onto them if you create slanted access points.

They do spend a lot of time in the water, frequently even eating there, so you must maintain clean water. Your turtle may suffer from a number of health issues if its tank or pond is dirty.

It is frequently advised to use a water filtration system appropriate for shallow water situations. As a result, you will have to physically clean the water less frequently, saving you time and lowering the stress level for the turtles. Additionally, you may purchase equipment that let you examine the water's purity. This guarantees the filter is functioning properly and enables you to determine when a thorough clean-out is necessary.

Tap water used in the tank or pond should be dechlorinated. The chlorine can impact on the efficiency of the filter and impact the health of your turtle.

Spotted Turtles can live together, although housing males together is not a good idea as they will usually become aggressive towards one another.


It's crucial to keep your spotted turtle warm and cozy. 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit will be the ideal water temperature. If you use water heaters, be sure that water is always covering them. Your turtle may experience hazardous hyperthermia if the water evaporates and they are left uncovered.

Additionally, you should make sure that any spaces used for basking are sufficiently warm, ideally between 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Your turtle may go into hibernation if the temperature falls too low. If you are not an experienced turtle keeper, you should avoid doing this since it might put your turtle in danger.


For turtles to efficiently absorb calcium, they require enough quantities of vitamin D3. They run the risk of developing a multitude of illnesses without this. Another crucial factor is to provide UVB lights above basking areas, especially in an indoor tank where your turtle won't be exposed to natural sunshine.

Food and Water

Being mostly carnivorous, spotted turtles benefit from a diversified diet by living as long as possible. It is sufficient to feed them once daily or every other day, and they frequently prefer foods like shrimp, worms, crickets, and other insects. Even the occasional cooked piece of meat has been found to be enjoyed by them.

Fruits and leafy greens are enjoyed by some, while aquatic plants like duckweed may be preferred by others. If you like commercial turtle pellets, you may also include some of them. These pellets frequently have calcium with added vitamin D3, which is good for turtles kept inside.

A calcium supplement without the Vitamin D3 may also be added to the diet of outdoor residents, or you could provide a Cuttlefish bone.

Common Health Problems

Most people think of the spotted turtle as a strong tiny turtle. In order to maintain their wonderful health, turtles must be fed the proper nutrition, have the proper lighting and warmth, and have clean water and enclosures. The circumstances that are typical for aquatic turtles are described here.

Aquatic turtles are susceptible to a variety of infectious illnesses, which can range in severity. Making sure your turtle lives in clean water and has a warm, clean basking area where its shell can thoroughly dry off will help to reduce the likelihood that a problem will arise.

Even healthy aquatic turtles occasionally have parasites like nematodes or flagellates living inside of them. Their health may be impacted if their population is too large or if they acquire parasites like tapeworms from another host. You can see symptoms like diarrhea, tiredness, or weight loss. A yearly fecal examination with an exotic vet expert can assist to ensure that any possible issues are addressed.

Choosing Your Spotted Turtle

When thinking about giving a Spotted Turtle a home, it is crucial to complete your homework. You ought to hunt for a trustworthy breeder or rescue group. To ensure the survival of natural populations, all turtles that are purchased should be raised in captivity.

By finding a passionate, knowledgeable and recommended small-scale specialist breeder, you are more likely to get a healthy and ethically sourced turtle.

Additionally, there are a number of specialized rescue groups searching for adoptive homes for turtles in need. If you want to find out if any turtles are searching for a permanent home nearby, you can even conduct a search on websites like Petfinder.com.

A law that forbids the selling of turtles with a carapace less than 4 inches has been passed in several parts of the United States. As a result, it is unlikely that you will locate a hatchling Spotted Turtle among most breeders.

Similar Species to the Spotted Turtle

If you want to consider other species of aquatic turtles before deciding what one might be right for you, you could also consider:

Or, you can check out our full list of profiles to help you choose your next pet.


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