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Before I start saying anything, I should tell you that this is not the sequel of How To Train Your Dragon even though the poster is similar. Well, in fact, it is the same poster…I edited it a little ;)

This post is to share how I train my turtles to be the sweetest turtles in the world :)

I should warn you that THIS IS NOT A PROFESSIONAL ADVICE!! Some of you will disagree with what I have here so I need to point out that I always treat my turtles properly in my own way.

I know that some turtle owner thought that turtles are not to be handled, we only need to touch them when we are cleaning their tank or other cleaning activity. They thought that turtles are not used to be touched in the wild….well, my opinion is different to those people. I think that pets (turtles, cats or even dogs) will behave depend on how their owner react to them (although I hate using the word owner but this is an exceptional because I use this for general purpose). If you treat your turtles just by looking at them and then routinely give food to them…then, don’t be surprise if they will only think of you as their source of food.

I did different things toward my 2 lovely turtles. They are not pets to look at. As crazy as this might sound (at least for Indonesian people, this sounds crazy), I love both Kame and Kroten (updated: Kurome and Papoe too) as if they are my own babies. I show them I love them…and I know they DO NOT treat me as a source of food.

The reason to write this post is because I recently found out that my co-works also have turtles too but their turtles always try to bite them or hide their head when they want to touch them. They couldn’t believe when I said that mine aren’t like that. I show them pictures and videos and then they believe me. They even say “I envy you”.

Without anymore delay, here are How I Train My turtles: (toward Kame since October 2006 and toward Kroten since March 2008) (updated: toward Papoe and Kurome since 2012):

1. Give them names!!

Yes, they are only turtles, and yes, they are cold-blooded animal…but never assumed that they don’t need a name. I know at least 4 people who have never given their turtles any names, they thought that turtles won’t understand their names after all *rolling eyes*

Let me make it simple…THEY DO UNDERSTAND THEIR NAMES!!

2. Call their name every time you see them.

This act is to let them know their name and getting used of hearing it.

Both Kame and Kroten will look at me if I call them. I know they are not as smart as dogs and cats, but they often respond to their name.

3. Play with them

You might wonder how you can play with turtles. What games can they do?

The simplest one is to let them see something and let them follow it around. When Kame was still baby, I used to roll something at her and made her runaway out of surprise and then she started looking curiously at the thing. You can also let your turtles sniff on something. Simply said, just spend time with them.

4. Touch them

Now…I know this sound will get me scolded in redearslider.com … but hey, I have been doing it for years and what I got in return is incredible. They are so used to me and they will sort of ask me to hold them. Kame is the one who crave for my touch more than Kroten.

I let them climb my leg whenever it’s convenient for them. They often sleep on my leg or feet. They don’t even put their head inside when I touch their neck.

5. Hand-feed them

This is also against by many people because turtle might misunderstand your finger with food. Fortunately, it works pretty well with my turtles. Kame is the best, she can perfectly measure her distance. She can bite the food without biting my finger even though the food is smaller than 1 cm. Kroten is awful in measuring distance, she still bite my finger even though the food is more than 2cm. it’s because her eagerness to eat. However,none of them try to bite my hand when I’m not holding any food.

Hand feed can give a special bond between you and your turtles.

6. Let them explore the house.

I think this is a good way to make them feel like they are part of the family. It isn’t fair just to let them look at other people from their tank or their basking area. I like letting them out and roam around the house. I am not scared of losing them because they usually come when I call them.

7. Repeat the same instruction

If you want them to do something…do it again and again and again. I am glad Kame can shake hand or more like putting her hand on mine (see it in the last part of the video below). Both Kame and Kroten will extend their head and touch my nose with their nose whenever I let them close to my face. Kame can understand the word ‘naik’ (up) when I ask her to climb on my hand (see it in the video)…Kroten is still in learning process.

8. Let them sleep next to your bed once in a while.

Okay…this must be the craziest idea you’ve ever heard. This might result in losing your turtles according to some people.

Fortunately, I haven’t lost any of them…I put them on a piece of fabric and they will sleep till the next morning, they’ll wake up at the same time I wake up. And after that, the fun begins. They will chase me everywhere I go. I love that moment.

You might think it’s weird to let them sleep near me…well, people let their cats and dogs sleep on their bed….why would it be weird to let turtles sleep near me?

9. Show them you care for them

This last training is the most important one. Don’t just look at them and then feed them. You need to talk with them, spend time with them…basically, just show them you love them.

Kame and Kroten’s tanks are in my room…it’s so nice to see them raising their head and look intensely at me whenever I enter my room. I always rub their neck 1st and then do whatever I want to do in my room.

10. Take Lots of Pictures (extra  training)

This advice is only to make your turtle get used to camera. Both my turtles are natural narcissist.

Well…that’s all for today :)

Hope it will help your relationship with your turtles ;)

I don’t know if this would work for bigger turtle, I did this since they are very small. Kame is easier to understand because I have her since she was a bit bigger than 1inch, while Kroten needs more time to understand because I have her when she was already about 2 inches. (updated: Papoe is still very shy but he is getting warmer each year; Kurome is as easy as Kame)

And this is how Kame and Kroten behave :)

New video, this is Kroten and Kurome

To ask about things Turtle-ish that has nothing to do with training them, please click the image below :)

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About Novroz

I actively maintained 2 blogs. My personal blog is about things that I love: Turtles, Books, Movies, Music, Larc en Ciel, Muse, Cillian Murphy, The Mighty Boosh and many more. I also help my 3 super cute turtles, Kroten, Papoe and Kurome, to maintain their own blog: http://kamekroten.wordpress.com

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  1. Melewa says:

    I’ve recently gotten two yellow-bellied turtles, have had them for 5 days now and have been hand feeding them since day one and they both will gladly give me their hands and play “chase the item” with me. Even though they are still babies, around 1-2inches, is it safe to take them out their tank and let them walk around?

  2. pardiskirchhoff says:

    i followed your instruction,it was quite succesful!but the only problem is my turtle still scratches me when i try to hold or cuddle her,is she annoyed by me?:/

  3. ramnath says:

    i have two star turtles they r about 5-6 months old should i leve them down at my home??

  4. shane says:

    so it is okay to handle my red eared slider Bubbles.

    i took my turtle bubbles out to explore for the first time. I was one of those owners who just looked at her and fed her. she is 1 year old know do you think i could gain her trust and almost be like your turtles?

  5. jada says:

    My turtle keeps biting me friend’s say I should just get use to him biting me but it hurts what to do

    • Novroz says:

      Keeps biting you? That means he doesn’t trust you at all. You have to gain his trust. A turtle who has fully trusted his owner will even let you touch his neck.

  6. Tyler says:

    Just wanted to say I loved your posts very much. I have a 12 year old Res who for her first 7 years was never handled. now i always see her and let her out. Now she never seems too excited about being picked up. However she will always stick her neck out when i place my finger in front of her to get her neck rubbed ,(occasionally she will wait for a back scratch) :D. In fact as I type this she is roaming my room.

    • Novroz says:

      Thank you Tyler :)
      It’s so nice to read another confirmation that turtles being handled have a great result in human-turtle relationship

  7. kapil says:

    Hi novroz . I am kapil from india. I was surfing on google and searching the stuff about RES. I just saw your site and watched your videos. It inspired me alot. On 12th july 2014 baby crush comes in my life. I love him very much. I still don’t know the gender bcoz its shell is now of 2′. But I call him crush. After seeing your video I fed him with shrimp from my hand. I felt uncounted happiness. Thanks.

  8. Tom says:

    I placed my painted turtle on the table and it crawled and fell onto the floor. (It was about a 3ft drop) and my turtle hid in it’s shell. I placed him back in the tank and after a while his body came out of his shell. Problem is, everytime I look at him in the direction he’s staring at, he moves back or turns toward another directon. Is this natural cause thi didn’t happen before he fell. How can I make my turtle stop avoiding me!!

    • Novroz says:

      I think he lost his trust on you.
      Maybe you can try calling his name when you are about feed him. Wait next to the tank till he eats it. It’s not going to be an easy process, you have to be patient

  9. Michelle says:

    My boyfriend just bought me 2 RES. They’ve been here for 5 days ad I love them already. The store owner kept about 10-15 baby RES in a small terrarium with very little water. She advised me to do the same. But I read up on RES and got them a tank filled with water and a resting area too. They did not eat the first 2 days but are eating better now. The problem is they are both very afraid of me. They try to hide most of the time. I dare not remove them to a separate place to feed as I think I might further traumatise them with handling. Please advise, yours is the only blog I have seen so far that gives hands on advise. Please help. thank you.

    • Novroz says:

      HI Michelle,

      First of all please don’t consider any of my advice as a professional advice because I am also still learning.

      If your turtles are still afraid of you, do not handle them. It’s only been five days. First, you have to somehow make them not afraid of you. Let them know you better. Be around the tank more often. They will see you even though they are hiding. Sooner or later they will recognize you and will not hide anymore. It might take time but they will get used to you.

  10. What do you think? says:

    Did you know that RES should not stay on land for too long?
    Although tanks are too small for your tortoises, but RES are terrapins! You should make the life of your tortoises as natural as if they are in wild life! They can swim freely, rest whenever they want, do their favorite stuff. Why don’t you give them such a peaceful life?

    • Novroz says:

      Yes they can. Turtles (or some call it terrapins) needs water the most to swallow their food. I only keep them off the water for less than 8 hours. A turtle can even survive off the water for a week.

      They are PETS not wild animals anymore. And I do believe my turtles are peaceful because they do not show any sign of being stressed.

  11. What do you think? says:

    How do you know they never think that you are a source of food? By the way, I think you shouldn’t always take the tortoise out of their tank.

    • Novroz says:

      If you follow my blog, not just this post…you’ll know they do not just think of me as food source. They can even differentiate people because I live in a dorm.

      • What do you think? says:

        But you never know what a turtle think.

      • Novroz says:

        Basically you never know what pets are thinking, regardless what the pets are. Cat owners never know what a cat think, dog owners never know what a dog think…everyone can only assume what his/her pets are thinking

    • Bro' Joe says:

      You are absolutely correct. The advice on this webpage is not from any experienced, reliable sources. I just posted this, and am waiting for the moderator to approve it. If they do not, then I feel sorry for all the turtle owners who will lose their beloved pets.
      I rescued a snapping turtle (Spike) that was kept in an old stone sink in a washroom in a college from 1972 until 2001, until I was able to acquire the turtle. I immediately put him in a 180 gallon tank, with a big canister filter and ebo-jager heater. He was very happy to be able to see things and swim freely after 29 years in a sink that was not much bigger than himself. He weighed 25 lbs. I had him for 13 years until he died August 23, 2014, from respiratory illness. He was such a stubborn eater that I was only too happy when he would eat, which he mainly only wanted lean hamburger. I did put Reptivin vitamin and mineral powder into his hamburger, but he was so large, it really was not enough dosage. I should have gotten a more concentrated dose to slip inside the hamburger. If your turtles are eating regular vitamin and mineral enriched turtle food, that will be sufficient. Also, the fluorescent reptile spectrum lights are essential for a turtle, but what you might not know is that they are ineffective unless around 10″ – 12″ above their shell while basking. (Not to be confused with a heating light, which can burn your turtle if too close). Do the research on the two essential lights for turtles. My turtle got plenty of sunshine when I put him outside in his kiddie pool, so that was not a factor in my case. And I always made sure that he had an area of shade in the kiddie pool, to get out of the sun when he chose to. Because of my thoughts that he would not like being captive after being in the sink for decades, I tended to handle him too much, to give him freedom, by moving him almost daily from the 180 tank, to a towel on the deck in partial sunlight for a couple hours (which was actually good for his shell, which he never had a problem with), and then into the kiddie pool for the day, and then back into his 180 gallon tank at suppertime and for the rest of the night. I’m sure that his malnutritional diet and excessive handling lead to his eventual demise. Turtles are not like dogs. Being handled in excess creates intense stress on them, which in turn weakens their immune system. And a turtle’s metabolism is so slow, it takes years for that to happen due to stress. And then when they get sick, you cannot miraculously build it up again with correction. That too takes as long as it did to weaken it. And so in closing, my experience and unending research after my poor Spike died, confirms that excessive handling and moving of your turtle from one location to another will slowly be the death of him. Why take that chance? Believe me, the turtle will not suffer from loneliness and boredom, as a dog does. They actually prefer it. If you would like to see many pictures of my beloved Spike over the years, please go to my Facebook page at (Bro’ Joe). yours, Joe

      • Novroz says:

        As I have said in my post in red letters, this is indeed not a professional advice, this is just my personal treatment that I want to share with everyone who would like to have tamed turtles.

        And don’t worry, I always approved comments on my blog (of course new comment goes through moderation because sometime it’s spam), and when I can approve it is depend on my schedule, I have a job and weekend trip like normal people.

  12. Michelle says:

    Thank you for your advise. I really appreciate it. Bran and Keena are much better now. Well they’re not so scared anymore. :D

    Ahem, I am no pro, but would like to point out that cats and dogs were wild too before being domesticated. Point is, once they are taken in and cared for as pets, they would be domesticated. And as for how long they should be in water, if they are healthy and happy, it should be fine?

    • Novroz says:

      Congrats :)

      That’s what I think too :)

      • Michelle says:

        Hi, I’m back again with another issue. Or I could just be worrying for nothing. Well, Bran, my shy RES, does not want to bask. I tried putting his tank in a remote part of the garden, while I spy from the window, but i still don’t see him coming out of the water. Keena goes out to the make-shift basking area on her own and seems fine, so I don’t think accessibility is an issue. They’ve been here for 21 days (although seems to me like I’ve had them longer than that), and I was hoping Bran would get more comfortable soon and I can just leave to do his thing at his own pace. But yesterday I noticed a very small spot on the tip of one of his central scutes. He is about 4cm and the spot is 0.1cm. It might not be anything but I am still worried that he is exposed to too much moisture. What should I do?

      • Novroz says:

        Hi Michelle, I moved your question here> https://kamekroten.wordpress.com/q-a/comment-page-7/#comment-15028 because it doesn’t relate to this post anymore

  13. Selena says:

    Hi, I just came across your forum and I have a few questions. I have a new Baby Diamondback Terrapin turtle and she’s around 2 inches. Maybe smaller. I named her raindrop xD
    The day I got her she didn’t eat. But the next day, she ate a lot. Now, today, she isn’t eating at all! What should I do? Does raindrop not like her food? Please help!

    What sort of fish, veggie and fruits do diamondback terrapins eat? Thanks!

  14. Bro' Joe says:

    I rescued a snapping turtle (Spike) that was kept in an old stone sink in a washroom in a college from 1972 until 2001, until I was able to acquire the turtle. I immediately put him in a 180 gallon tank, with a big canister filter and ebo-jager heater. He was very happy to be able to see things and swim freely after 29 years in a sink that was not much bigger than himself. He weighed 25 lbs. I had him for 13 years until he died August 23, 2014, from respiratory illness. He was such a stubborn eater that I was only too happy when he would eat, which he mainly only wanted lean hamburger. I did put Reptivin vitamin and mineral powder into his hamburger, but he was so large, it really was not enough dosage. I should have gotten a more concentrated dose to slip inside the hamburger. If your turtles are eating regular vitamin and mineral enriched turtle food, that will be sufficient. Also, the fluorescent reptile spectrum lights are essential for a turtle, but what you might not know is that they are ineffective unless around 10″ – 12″ above their shell while basking. (Not to be confused with a heating light, which can burn your turtle if too close). Do the research on the two essential lights for turtles. My turtle got plenty of sunshine when I put him outside in his kiddie pool, so that was not a factor in my case. And I always made sure that he had an area of shade in the kiddie pool, to get out of the sun when he chose to. Because of my thoughts that he would not like being captive after being in the sink for decades, I tended to handle him too much, to give him freedom, by moving him almost daily from the 180 tank, to a towel on the deck in partial sunlight for a couple hours (which was actually good for his shell, which he never had a problem with), and then into the kiddie pool for the day, and then back into his 180 gallon tank at suppertime and for the rest of the night. I’m sure that his malnutritional diet and excessive handling lead to his eventual demise. Turtles are not like dogs. Being handled in excess creates intense stress on them, which in turn weakens their immune system. And a turtle’s metabolism is so slow, it takes years for that to happen due to stress. And then when they get sick, you cannot miraculously build it up again with correction. That too takes as long as it did to weaken it. And so in closing, my experience and unending research after my poor Spike died, confirms that excessive handling and moving of your turtle from one location to another will slowly be the death of him. Why take that chance? Believe me, the turtle will not suffer from loneliness and boredom, as a dog does. They actually prefer it. If you would like to see many pictures of my beloved Spike over the years, please go to my Facebook page at (Bro’ Joe). yours, Joe

    • Novroz says:

      Thank you for sharing about your turtles.

      You said Why take chance? well if I can live my morning everyday like the video above…then I’ll take my chance :)

  15. Adi says:

    Looks like you have dogs dressed as turtles :) .. It’s beautiful to see how they interact with you. Lovely really. Thanks for sharing

  16. Anushri says:

    Hi,
    I too have a turtle, a red eared slider. He’s been with me for 11years… He has always been a sweetheart…I have named him…. U play with him… Give him all the care.. He has never been ferocious… But off late he tries to snap at me.. He bit my lip… He begged to play.. And when I did.. He bit my finger and doesn’t let go. I don’t understand such a drastic change in his behavior. He’s never been like this.

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Anushri,

      Wow what a drastic change. I am sorry I can’t help but it makes me wonder why he changes like that.

    • Bro' Joe says:

      He bit you because turtles do not like to play. Reptiles are not mammals. They have a strong survival instinct. They like to be left alone. It is less stress on them.
      Would you feel happy having a giant person as tall as a 10 story building, handling you all the time? The person below can’t even find their turtles. Do you know why?
      Because they don’t like to be handled or held captive, and have tried to escape the torture.
      People on here that want to handle their turtles and try to train them are seffish, and are only looking to impress other people. When your turtle dies, years before the 20-40 years that they are supposed to live, then you will be crying. And it will be your own fault for being so foolishly selfish.

  17. Megan says:

    Hi,

    I have an ornate box turtle named shelby, I found her in the wild a few months ago, she has never tried to bite me but she avoids me when I try to pet her or play with her. do you think I will ever be able to have as good a relationship with her as you have with your turtles?

  18. Saphira says:

    My turtle behaves exactly the same way, guess he got trained all right.. :)

  19. gopika says:

    my turtles are lost
    !!! plz help me!!! tito and mackie!!!! ( tito – indian roofed turtle and mackie crowned river turtle ) are both not at home!! boo hoo!! :'( plz help me.. today i had a trip to the museum from the school and when i came back i couldn’t find my turtles in their tank.. plz help.. ;'( i want them back.. plus they are water turtles and wont survive long without foood and water!! plz help!! i am literally crying now!! ;'(

    • Novroz says:

      Sorry to hear this sad news…but there’s nothing I can do to help you, you just need search them in every corner of your house.

      Good luck and be patient

      • gopika says:

        I came to know that my mum gave them to my brothers friend…. And he isn’t giving them back to me….:'( my mum had said that after my exams she’ll get them back for me but she didn’t….:'( I want them back at any cost…I even told my mum that I won’t ask for my Christmas and birthday gift but no…she says that they have kept them for good luck….and they won’t give them a nice basking area also!!! Plus they have kept them in a small tub not bigger that two watermelons…. And the quantity of the water is not more that the second linings on our fingerst!!!!!!:'(

      • Novroz says:

        Awwww… you poor thing.
        I would have gone crazy if anyone gave away my babies. Sorry to hear that.

        I sure hope you can get them back because it sounds like they do not live happily there

  20. Rachel says:

    Woah :o i have a turtle called Yasmina, i found her with her shell pierced in a flower pot when i was 4 years old, now i’m 13 and she became really quick ^.^ my mom is against letting her walk freely in our house so she stays in the balcony, and sometimes when she’s hungry she just taps her yellow cage and i put her in it with food ^.^ but i never knew you could actually train them, your turtles are amazing :D

  21. keratz says:

    Hey Novroz, I have just got a new baby red eared slider for my birthday a few days ago, but since I acidentally poured him out of the bag too roughly, he now doesn’t trust me. In fact, he tries to run away quickly whenever I’m around. Any ideas? He’s not eating since the day I got him. Hand feeding isn’t working. When I play with him he just struggles to get back in the tank. Can you help me, please? I want to be friends with it and its my first pet other than a fish, so any advice?

    • Novroz says:

      He has lost his trust on you since the beginning. My advice is don;t handle him yet because it will add the stress. You should watch him first, try to call his name…wait until he doesn’t show fear at you anymore.

  22. TRob says:

    I absolutely love your tips! I recently bought a turtle and I’m not sure what kind she is. But I’ll be taking her to petsmart this weekend to get a proper tank and to learn more about the species. But so far I feel that we are bonding! She seems to be use to me already and even cuddles under my legs and goes to sleep. I hope to build a relationship with my turtles like you have with yours! 😄

    • Novroz says:

      Thank you TRob :)

      That’s a great start, just do overdo it. If she is already that attached to you then your turtle will grow on you as she grows bigger

  23. Toni says:

    Hi there!
    Thank you for sharing your experience with your turtles! The videos you have are so adorable! I just recently got a baby Red Ear Slider and right now he’s just about 1 1/2 inches. How can I train him to not bite me? I was told by people at a locale pet store that RES are known for biting, but yours are so well behaved!! Thanks!

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Toni :)

      Thank you for the compliment :)
      They bite if they feel threaten. Don’t push yourself on your baby turtle, let him know you first. Call his name and be present when you feed hi8m. When he is already used to you then you can start new approach

      Good luck :)

  24. Hey my red eared slider fell from my hand and now he always tries to get of my hand when i keep him on my hand he also swims against the tañk even though j just fed him

  25. RC says:

    I got my baby pet terrapins 2 days ago and when i touched Peeko ( one female ) she climbed onto my hand .she is a little explorer and a climber. Today, she climbed a 2 feet chair ( covered in cloth ) 3 times and when i hold her near my face, she reached out and used her nose to touch my cheek! on thew other hand, Shelgon a male always goes into water (when basking ) when i come near it… what can i do

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