Turtles are a popular choice for pet owners who are looking for a unique, low-maintenance companion. But when it comes to ownership of multiple turtles, is it possible to house two or more of these animals together safely? The answer depends on several factors, such as the species of turtle and the size of their enclosure. In this article, we will explore whether or not it is safe to put two turtles together.
Many turtle owners often wonder whether it is possible to keep two turtles together in the same enclosure. After all, turtles are social animals, and some may benefit from having a companion with whom they can interact. However, introducing multiple turtles into the same habitat is not always an advisable option due to several factors that can influence their wellbeing. In this article we will explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of keeping two turtles together.
Can Two Turtles Live In The Same Tank?
One of the most common questions people have about owning pet turtles is, “Do they need friends?” In other words, “Can two turtles share the same tank?”
This is an important thing to know when you’re looking to add a second pet turtle to your family, or even if you already have two turtles and want to learn how to improve their environment. So, can two turtles share a tank? The short answer to this is yes. But there are things to keep in mind such as the species, size, sex, and age of both turtles, as well as the size of the tank and its equipment. Another thing to keep in mind is potential sickness which can spread from one turtle to the other.
The experienced turtle keepers follow a motto. “The less is more.” It means you should not crowd your turtle tank with multiple creatures. See, turtles are not social creatures like us humans. They prefer solitary and no companions to live a great healthy life. So, if you question,” Do turtles need friends?” the answer is no. A turtle in captivity can spend its entire life alone in the enclosure. Though the turtles are not the best kind of friends, they are not violent to humans, other turtles, or animals for no reason. Hence, with proper adjustments, you can raise multiple turtles in one tank. Even some turtle species make good tankmates with fishes and other aquatic creatures.
Is It Safe To House Two Turtles In One Tank?
This depends highly on each turtle’s temperament, as well as the several things to keep in mind:
Species And Care Requirements
If you want to house two turtles in the same tank, you have to make sure they are the same species, or at least species compatible and have the same or very similar care requirements. You don’t want to house a Red Eared Slider with a Mata Mata, because those two species require completely different husbandry.
However, it may be possible to house two Red Eared Sliders together, or even a Painted with a Red Ear, because their care requirements are the same: a good protein pellet, leafy greens and veggies, with the occasional shrimp or fruit treat; a water temperature of between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and a basking area temperature of between 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the chances of the two turtles being able to be housed together also highly depends on the other factors.
Size And Age
The size and age of both your turtles go hand-in-hand, and are extremely important when thinking about housing them together. If one turtle is much bigger than the other, there is a higher risk of aggression and fighting.
If both of your turtles are around the same size and age, and are the same or similar species with the same or similar care requirements, it might be possible for them to be housed together.
There are, of course, other important factors to look at.
The gender of your turtles plays an important part in whether they can be housed together. It can be difficult to tell the sex of your turtles when they are hatchlings and juveniles, because male and female turtles look almost the same when they’re really young.
Once they are old enough to tell the difference, i.e. when they hit puberty, males are much more likely to become aggressive and fight each other than female turtles. This is because they instinctively fight for dominance.
So, it’s best not to house multiple male turtles in the same tank, but two female turtles can get along just fine. A male and female turtle housed together is most likely not a good idea just because of the possibility of mating.
You don’t want to breed captive pet turtles, leave that up to the professional breeders!
Tank Size And Equipment
Now that you know what to look for in individual turtles, you need to know about the supplies you need! The general rule of thumb for minimum water level requirments for just one turtle, for every inch of shell length, you need ten gallons of water. So, if your turtle has a four-inch long shell, he or she will need a minimum of a 40-gallon tank. If the turtle has a seven-inch long shell, he or she will need a minimum of a 75-gallon tank, and so on.
If there are two turtles of the same size going into the same tank, you will want to add at least half as much space for the second turtle. So, if every inch of one turtle needs at least 10 gallons of water, then every inch of the second turtle will need at least five gallons of water per inch of shell. Of course, it is always better to go bigger than smaller, but this is the minimum guideline. Once you get the size of the tank figured out, you need to figure out the proper filter and water heater sizes. Turtles are very messy creatures, so you want to make sure you have a great filter for them. You want to make sure you get a filter that has two to three times as much capacity as the size of your tank. So, if you have a 75-gallon tank, you will want a filter that works for at least 150 gallons and even more for a second turtle. The bigger the filter, the less work you have to do in the long run.
Aquarium heaters are much simpler; they go by wattage, and each heater brand shows what watt heater is best for what size tank. The last thing to think about is basking areas. Do you want one basking area or two? If you only want to use one basking area, make sure it is big enough for both turtles to be able to spread out completely in their own space if they wanted to. Homemade basking areas are a great option when you want to make sure you get the right size for your tank. There is also always the option of having two basking areas on opposite sides of the tank, so each turtle can choose which one to go to. It’s all about giving them both enough room to claim their own territories and be able to live with each other without fighting for dominance.
How Do Turtles Live With Each Other In The Wild?
In general, turtles are pretty solitary creatures. They don’t look for or have the need for “friends,” but they do have to share environments most of the time. In these cases, though, their habitats are so big that they can get away from each other no problem. Large ponds and lakes provide plenty of space for multiple turtles to swim around and claim their own territories with no issue. You might see multiple turtles basking together on a log; while they might be piled close to one another and in some cases on top of each other, it is very easy for them to swim back into the water if they want or need to get away from one another. It’s all about having enough territory.
What About Illnesses?
Sometimes, like humans, turtles can get sick. There are a wide range of illnesses turtles can have, but for the sake of this article we will be referring to things like respiratory infections, fungal infections, and parasites. These types of illnesses are extremely contagious, so if one of your turtles has one, it is very likely that the other turtle will catch it too. This is important to keep in mind when housing two turtles together. Make sure you have an exotic vet you can go to just in case, but to prevent these things from happening, you can quarantine both turtles when you first get them for a few weeks. If one of them shows any symptoms of illness, bring it to the vet as soon as possible, and treat it with whatever the vet gives you.
This will not transmit to the other turtle because they should be in another enclosure during the quarantine process. One way of preventing respiratory infection from occurring when you already have them housed together is to make sure the water, ambient, and basking temperatures are ideal and not too cold, because too cool temperatures can cause respiratory infections.
To prevent fungal infections, you just have to maintain a clean environment for them. This includes proper filtration and regular water changes.
To prevent parasites, you need to provide the proper diet and make sure to wash greens, veggies, and fruits thoroughly before feeding, as well as making sure the environment is clean.
Pros And Cons Of Housing Two Turtles In One Enclosure
1. Time Management
You know turtle tanks require regular cleaning and water replacing facilities. Handling two running tanks can be difficult and time-consuming. So, when you put two turtles into a single tank, you have less cleaning responsibility than before.
2. Expenditure Saving
Turtle tank setup might cost someone $300 to $750. The rate depends on the quality of the products. Organizing two different tanks for each pet turtle will double the expense. By choosing the right pair, you can easily cut some costs here.
If you put two turtles in a single enclosure, chances are there will be lots of fights. Their solitary nature is not alone responsible for the disputes. Turtles get onto each other because of territory, space, food, basking area, and stress.
When you house two turtles in one tank, both the turtles start competing with one another. In a fight of two healthy turtles, each party will give its best to win. So, the consequence seems pretty bad.
Both the turtles have the risk of getting injured. Shell cracks, scratches, and skin wounds can be severe.
2. Aggression For Mating
Some experts find it a great idea to put male and female turtles in one enclosure. To some extent, it is, but there are a few drawbacks.
It is true that turtles do not prefer friends. But during the breeding season, the case is quite the opposite. The male turtles often act desperate for mating in contact with the female ones.
Before mating, the male turtle swims around the female one. The male nips the female turtle’s neck, feet, or tail to find out if she is interested. In case of a no, the female turtle withdraws her body into the shell or totally ignores the male one. Then the partner snarls at her and leaves the place.
The nipping or snarling can appear like a fight, but in most cases, it is not. However, while basking, the desperate male turtle may try to mate with the female by mounting her from the back. At that moment, the female turtle may become aggressive, fight off the male turtle, and make him leave.
Sometimes, the male turtle can get really aggressive for mating. At that moment, the male will act hostile towards the female turtle. Sexual aggression can be pretty violent in turtles.
You may or may not have seen a bully in your life. But you do not want your turtle to turn into one. Right?
The fact is, your innocent and peace loving little pet can be a real bully. Bullying happens when you house a weak and a strong, a big and a small, or an adult and a young male turtle in the same tank. The healthy, strong, adult male turtles try to dominate the weak, female, and young ones.
A turtle bully because of,
- Territorial dispute
- Sexual aggression
- Incompatibility, etc.
The dominating turtle does not want to share its food, space, or territory with the small, weak, or any other turtle. To scare off the opponent, the fit turtle uses bullying as a weapon.
The strong turtle usually bullies the weak one by following it everywhere and fanning the claw in front of it. The strong turtle may bite, nip, or kick as a part of aggressive bullying. If you do not respond to this controlling behavior, one of your turtles will be wounded.
4. Risk of Illness
Turtles can be vulnerable to diseases. A slight lack of care is enough to make a turtle sick. For example, a drop or rise in temperature, dirty water, dock, or substrate, When you house two turtles in a single tank, the risk of sickness increases. Why?
It is because most diseases of a turtle are heavily contagious. The common illnesses of turtles are respiratory infection, bacterial/fungal infection, white patches on the shell, skin allergy, mouth rot , ear infection, parasites, etc.
All the diseases mentioned above are transmittable. So, when one turtle falls sick, most probably the other one will also suffer.
5. Care Difficulty
Professionals believe that turtles of two different species can become good tankmates. But it is hard to provide both the species the amount of care they need. You know each turtle species grows up in distinct environments, climates, and temperatures.
For example, the basking and water temperature requirement is different for each turtle kind. No species ever will be able to reside in a tank that is not geared to its demands. So, caring will be challenging when you put two different species in a single tank.
Consider the risks of injury, aggression, sickness, before taking any final decision.
How To Successfully House Two Turtles In A Single Tank
Examine the risks closely and discuss with the experienced turtle owners/vets. If you are ready to take your chances, this part of the article will be your key.
You know multiple turtles in one terrarium will be more likely to get involved in a mess. So, you have to eliminate all the possible reasons that would make the pets stressed and fight. Here is how you can house two turtle species successfully in one tank:
1. Choose The Species Wisely
Selecting the right species will increase your chance of success. The general rule says turtles usually do not like to live with their own species. So, it is best to mix the species while putting them together. The sexual aggression of the turtles will also be within tolerable limits. But for some turtle species, housing their own kinds in a single enclosure is the better option to avoid any fights.
For housing two turtles successfully in a single tank, choose two turtles that live in two different areas of the enclosure. For example, select one of the basking turtles and another one from the bottom walker family. However, turtles of the same types can also live together, e.g., painted turtles and red eared sliders.
Housing two different types of turtles that inhabit distinct areas will benefit you. For example, imagine you have put a basking turtle and a bottom walker in the same tank. The basking turtle will swim and spend the most time at the dock. On the contrary, the bottom walker will swim, stay at the bottom of the tank, and occasionally come to the platform for basking. Ensure resting places for the bottom walkers as they do not swim much. So, there is less chance of fights over territory. Again, putting two turtles of the same group offers other advantages. Like, the care sheet for both the turtles might be close. Also, the suitable tank and water temperature for the same types do not vary much. Besides, you have to consider the temperament of the turtle species. Red eared sliders, painted turtles, softshell turtles, snapping turtles, etc., get angry more often. Housing two aggressive turtles in the same tank will turn the enclosure into a battlefield.
In conclusion ,having two turtles in the same tank can be possible if done correctly. Before attempting to house two turtles together, it is important to research the individual species and their needs. This way, you can ensure that they have enough space, food, and enrichment activities in order to thrive. Additionally, it could be beneficial to monitor both turtles closely for any signs of aggression or stress. Lastly, any questions or concerns should be addressed to a qualified veterinarian with experience treating reptiles. Overall, once you have taken into account everything mentioned above, it all comes down to the temperaments of your individual turtles. Once you have everything checked off from this guide, you should be able to tell whether your two turtles would be able to get along together in one tank or not. Sometimes, turtles just don’t get along, and that’s okay. You can keep them in separate tanks with no issue. But sometimes, when you provide all the right things for a proper environment, it can work out! In addition to everything previously described, just keep an eye on your turtles and make sure they aren’t displaying any signs of aggression or dominance over one another. If that does happen, separate them, but if not, they should be okay! We hope you found this to be a helpful guide.