Turtles and tortoises are the most beloved of all reptiles, bringing a smile even to folks who shudder at the mere mention of the word “snake”. Often considered as more of a family member than pet, they exhibit traits that seem absent in other reptiles. Most become very responsive, with aquatic species paddling about wildly when people enter the room and hungry tortoises following their owners and even bumping them if meals are slow in coming.

It is, however, important to do your research, as inexpensive hatchlings are still promoted as “simple” pets by unscrupulous sellers. Many, including the popular Red-Eared Slider and Sulcata Tortoise, become too large for typical homes, while others, such as the Common Snapping Turtle, are both large and dangerous. Also, all turtles and tortoises are very demanding in terms of their diet and other needs, and small mistakes often lead to serious health problems. But with proper care, a well-chosen hard-shelled pet can provide you with a lifetime of wonder and companionship. Take some time to explore the turtles and tortoises that fascinate you.