Best Enclosures for Turtles

Aquatic turtles are one of the easiest reptiles to take care of but there are some essentials.

I recommend picking up an aquarium with minimum of 20 gallons (40 gallon or larger tank is ideal). There are lots of different ‘turtle setups’ you can get but I think a standard aquarium with the right accessories works great. If your turtles are hatchlings, or very young, you may want to keep them in a smaller tank but anticipate they will need room to grow. I say the bigger the better.

A good filter system is extremely important not only for the health of your turtles but it will minimize your maintenance and cleanup. Trust me, invest in a good filter system. The time you save from not having to clean constantly will be well worth the price.

Incandescent lamp for heat and light-weight on top from the screen and over the land region. Complete spectrum fluorescent light-weight to supply UVB. If your turtles are native to a tropical climate you may also want to provide a water heater.

Although your turtles may be aquatic by nature they still will need a basking area where they can get completely out of their watery home. This is also extremely important to ensure optimum health and prevent shell rot along with other possible diseases.

For my turtle tanks I have tried many different land/basking areas. There are only two that I currently use and will promote. The Turtle Topper, which is pretty new on the scene, and Zoo Med’s Floating Log. Check out their overview below.

Turtle Topper Ramp – Above Tank Basking Platform

Unique and innovative above tank basking platform designed to meet the basking requirements of most aquatic turtles. The Turtle Topper increases your turtle’s habitat size while allowing maximum swim space. The deeper water level that the Turtle Topper provides allows for the use of all filter types and provides for a healthier and cleaner environment for the turtle(s).

The Turtle Topper includes two mounting rims to allow the use of clamp lamp fixtures for your turtle’s lighting/heat needs. See the Turtle Topper in action on and visit for more information and to preview the entire Reptology line of turtle products.

Turtle Topper Ramp

• Great for basking

• Comes to us from Penn Plax

• Simplifies turtle keeping

• Adjustable suction cups to fit different size tanks

• Allows you to maintain a deeper water level

• Presents turtles with a natural looking environment


Zoo Med Floating Turtle Log

New Zoo Med Floating Turtle Log,  The hollow resin log floats just at the surface so that turtles can bask on top of it or hide submerged inside

Zoo Med Floating Turtle Log

• Provides security, comfort, and stress reduction for aquatic turtles, newts, frogs, mudskippers, and tropical fish.

• Bottom weighted allows turtles to climb on top (to bask) without log rolling over.

• Watch your turtles play or sleep inside of the Turtle Log.

•  Log measures 12″L x 5.5″H x 4″ inside diameter.

Box Turtles

The box turtle or box tortoise is one of several species of turtle. It can refer to either those of the genera Cuora or Pyxidea, which are the Asian box turtles, or more commonly to species of the genus Terrapene, the North American box turtles. They are largely characterized by having a domed shell, which is hinged at the bottom, allowing the animal to close its shell tightly to escape predators. Otherwise the two genera are very different in habitat, behavior, and appearance, and as such are not even classified in the same family. Even though box turtles have become very popular pets, their needs in captivity are complex and the capture of turtles can have serious detrimental effects on the wild population.

Box Turtles

The average life span of box turtles is 40 years. However, it is possible for a box turtle to live for over 100 years. The age of a growing box turtle in the wild can be roughly estimated by counting the growth rings on the scutes; the plastron is the best place to do this because it also allows examination of wear pattern. Estimates beyond 20 years are unreliable because most turtles have stopped growing by that age, and the plastron is usually worn smooth.

North American box turtles are omnivores. Their sharp eyes and keen sense of smell help them in finding food such as snails, insects, berries, fungi, slugs, worms, roots, flowers, fish, frogs, salamanders, various rodents, snakes, birds, and eggs. During their first five to six years, the young are primarily carnivorous while they grow. Adults tend to be mostly herbivorous, but they do not eat green leaves. Box turtles have been known to eat road-kill. Babies and young turtles need more protein and prefer a carnivorous diet, and then include more and more plant matter as they get older.

Most turtle and tortoise societies recommend against box turtles as pets for small children. Box turtles are easily stressed by overhandling and require more care than is generally thought. Box turtles can be easily injured by dogs and cats so special care must be taken to protect them from household pets and neighborhood animals. Box turtles require an outdoor enclosure, consistent exposure to the sun and a varied diet. Without these, a turtle’s growth can be stunted and its immune system weakened.

Finding box turtles in the wild and taking them as pets, even for a very short period of time, can have detrimental effects. Box turtles want to stay within the same area where they were born. If one is moved more than a half-mile from its territory, it may never find its way back; but may spend years unsystematically searching. This exposes the animal to danger and also disrupts the breeding cycle.