What Are Miniature Turtles?


Quick Answer

The term “miniature turtle” is incorrectly applied to hatchling turtles sold in the pet trade. The turtles are not miniature in any way; they are simply young. When provided with proper care, the small turtles eventually reach adult proportions, varying from 4 to 12 inches in diameter. Unfortunately for the turtles, few reach adulthood, instead falling victim to improper care and illness.

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What Are Miniature Turtles?
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Full Answer

Most miniature turtles are hatchling red-eared sliders, known to scientists as Trachemys scripta elegans. Retailers often stock painted turtles, soft-shell turtles and musk turtles as well. None of these, or any other turtle species, remains smaller than 4 inches long at maturity.

In the United States, it is against federal law to sell turtles that are less than 4 inches in length, except for scientific or educational purposes. Accordingly, most such turtles encountered at flea markets and fairs are not legal pets. This does not stop unscrupulous people from selling the turtles to make a quick profit. Few of these turtles survive and reach their adult size.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, aquatic turtles are not low-maintenance pets. A large aquarium, filtration unit and heating equipment are needed for proper maintenance. Left without such items, the turtles are destined to become ill and die.

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