MYTHICAL beasts are more glamorous than the real thing. Unicorns sparkle, they don’t stamp, dragons breath fire, they don’t run up trees and hide, and penny turtles never grow bigger than a fifty cent piece. Unfortunately like fire breathing dragons and unicorns, penny turtles don’t exist.
Native turtles make great pets. While they don’t run to the gate to meet you they can, in their own way, be quite friendly. Northern yellow faced turtles are the most common pet turtles and they are incredibly cute when they are hatchlings. They are not much bigger than a fifty cent piece and have a charm that is difficult to resist. They live comfortably in an aquarium and their only requirements are clean water, sunlight and a proper turtle diet, no walking or training required.
People often call northern yellow faced turtle hatchlings penny turtles and get them as pets thinking that they will have a cute tiny turtle. If kept correctly, native turtles can grow to be as big as a dinner plate, need a varied diet and a deep sunny pond to swim in. With a lifespan of 40 years your little reptile buddy will outlive its tank and will need ongoing and complex care requirements far longer than any dog would.
If you are thinking about getting a turtle as a pet you will need to keep a few things in mind. You must get your turtle from someone who has a permit to keep or breed it. You will also need to get a permit, these are free but you need to have the permit number of the person you bought your turtle from. You must never release it into the wild. Your turtle will not know how to find food and will not know how to avoid predators. Releasing a pet turtle into the wild guarantees its swift demise, it is also illegal. Turtles need proper turtle food. This doesn’t include mince or bread. Turtles have diets as varied as they are and it is important that you know what your turtle needs. Adult turtles need a pond that is at least one meter in depth with shallow areas, sloping sides and an area for basking. Turtles are also great climbers and will be able to escape most mesh fencing.
A turtle is a pet for a lifetime, care for it well.