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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 … 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🙂

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:

1,009 responses »

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  1. Wayne Schwartz says:

    Hi,i really like your opinion on turtles and it’s great, now I want to have another turtle,and keep them.

  2. Dragon King says:

    Hi i got a small indian roofed turtles from my brother. He is very aggressive, always bites me. Eats cucumbers and freeze dried blood worms and never eats the pellets i give him. When i hold him he scratches me and try to jump out of my hand. I need to pet him and be a friend of him . Any Suggestions ?

  3. Jessica Cole says:

    I have a western painted turtle and shes about 5 years old and she loves being held by me follows me atound and has never once bitten me she knowd when its time to be fed and everything. I think turtles are so missed judged and they are way smarter than we think

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Jessica, thank you for sharing about your turtle🙂
      I completely agree with you…they are smarter then what people give them credit for

  4. Manasvi Singh says:

    Hiiii! I am Manasvi and I have 2 turtles 1 male 1 female well I had cause the female one ,lexi, died. I don’t know what happened but when I saw her she had a red patch at her neck. Can you please tell me what it was so my other turtle won’t die. I think that the other one is not happy, as they were very close. Please tell me what should I do to make him happy.

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Manasvi🙂
      I don’t what that red patch is. Sorry I can’t help you much there.
      How do you know he is not happy?

    • bobcindyl says:

      Hi. The red patch could be from a bite. Males can get very aggresive with the females and will bite them, sometimes doing quite a bit of damage like removing skin or crushing. My female had a red patch on her throat and a large chunk of skin on the top of her neck was bit off. Sorry about your loss.

  5. NinJan says:

    I will try it🙂 does it also work for a tortoise?
    His name is Ninja

    • Novroz says:

      I never try it on tortoise…BUT I always believe that no matter what the animal is, if we treat them like part of family they will be part of the family. My father once tamed a Tokay Gecko which is something people rarely able to do

  6. Nashelly Martinez says:

    This is so cute!I do all of these things with my turtle and he’s been with me for only 3 years! I really enjoyed the videos!

  7. Sunaina says:

    My baby turtle’s is not eating and the climate over here is around 20 degree centigrade. I dont have any water heaters. I would like to know y my turtle’s not eating.its really a pain for me to see it in this way please help me.

  8. Tammy aka Myrtle Turtles Mom says:

    Thank you for sharing. I am in love with my Myrtle. Myrtle became part of our family just a few months ago, he or she, I can’t tell yet, but I refer to Myrtle as him. He was a little bigger than a quarter and has since day one shown so much personality. He never seemed shy and seems to be the sweetest thing ever. I always speak to him just like my dog Kozmo. Myrtle seems to like my voice and often acts as if he wants out of tank. So I bring him out for play time and tonight what seemed like cuddle time. It blew my mind because I’ve noticed Myrtle seems to like the top of his head rubbed and even under his lil chin, also shell rubs, especially belly rubs but tonight I sat him on my chest prepared for him to want to escape me and explore but he stayed put and just stared at me. After a few minutes of giving him opportunity to go and him staying put, I started caressing his shell in a light rub. He never moved a muscle. About 10 mins of my getting lost in television and still rubbing his shell. I looked down and his lil head was tilted down and sure enough I turned my phone screen light on him and he was sound asleep. It was the sweetest thing I’ve seen. I googled about RES and pettings and most everything I pulled up said they do not like being touched or handled. I’m so glad I’ve came across your sharing your relationship with your babies. Makes me feel like I’m doing something right and Myrtle may truly like me and his new home😉

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Tammy🙂
      You are a lucky person!! Not all turtles like to be touched at such early age. I was very lucky with Kame and now you are lucky with Myrtle🙂

      Just make sure that you provide everything that he needs and you will have the best turtle ever…not long, he will understand his name and can be called🙂

      • Tammy aka Myrtle Turtles Mom says:

        Thanks, I look forward to life with Myrtle. Now I have a question, hopefully you can help… Ok sometimes when I get Myrtle out I’ve noticed he wets. Even though I know Myrtle is gonna pee, it’s always been close enough to time I took him out of tank so I’ve dismissed it as tank water. Well a few ago Myrtle had been out for about 30 mins and I picked him up and was talking to him and a stream went down my shirt. Like I said I know it’s gonna happen but my thing is I don’t want to be scaring Myrtle. He acts like he wants to be around but am I possible assuming and moving to fast? Just don’t wanna over step my boundaries and especially not scare him.

  9. Kaneez says:

    Hey Navroz,
    I incidently acme across ur site and was really surprised that people do think that way. I have two indian star tortoise and they are lovely. My son has given them names. We all talk wit them cuddle wit them.its been 6 months that we hv them. I think they qre aroynd a yr old or so. M nt so sure of their ages. But they just love to eat whn we feed them by our hand most of they time and my sistr infacts talks to them and tells them’dont show.tantrum Pogo. Eat ur food urself ok’. Many ppl would find it funny that we talk wit them bt they undrstand us.and we undstnd them. They keep thr stretched neck on our lap n sleep. They take bath everyday n poop and eat n roam in the house.
    I.really appreciate ur human approach towards ur babies u know. Its realy vry affectionate of you to do ths. I showed the videos to my son n he was impressed too. He is 5 yr old n loves the pets.
    A very good job on that.
    Mqy god bless you. Give my love to ur babies🙂

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Kaneez,
      Thank you for sharing your lovely story with your turtles🙂 It’s always nice to know that other people are having same relationship with the turtles just like me ((hug))

  10. Lindsey Hale says:

    So obsessed with this blog. 😍 My turtle Ella is the sweetest thing ever. She is a box turtle and she is about a year old. She took a while to adjust but now she is out of her shell (so to speak)😉. Thank you so much for this.

  11. Madlee says:

    Greetings brother. I really love the way you care for your turtles. It really helped me a lot. Thank you so much and will be looking for some more suggestions.

  12. Carina Loures says:

    Hi i just got my turtle yesterday for my birthday she’s about a year and 3 months the salesperson said and i’m already a little worried we grabbed the biggest bowl ish thing we had because the aquarium wont be here till tomorrow but Yoda seems very stressed and wont eat anything we give we tried lettuce and 2 different foods but she wont even look at it i tried taking her out of her tank and sat with her in the sofa but she just hid and then suddenly tried to run ?.. Also was wondering if its okay for her to go in the garden when its not too hot or if thats dangerous for her ? Also how often we should take Yoda to the vet and when should we go the first time ? Thank you in advance i know its alot but i already care so much for her i’m worried i’ll do something wrong.

    • bobcindyl says:

      Hi Carina. Your turtle probably will not eat for a few days…don’t worry about it. They need time to adjust to their new environment. Look up on youtube for all kinds of information as well as here. As for aquariums, make sure you get a very large one so you don’t have to replave it later. You can take your turtle outside, as long as it is nice and warm….but stay with it because of predators and because they can take off faster than most people think they can. Constant interaction with you will show him/her that you can be trusted, but, do not overwhelm him/her with too much attention at first. Do not put gravel or small rocks that can be swallowed in the tank. It can be dangerous. Youtube has information with pictures on how to check the shell and underside for problems as well as ideas for basking areas different foods and lots of other things. Make sure you get a basking/heat lamp with UVA/UVB bulb. It is important for their bones and overall health. And get a cuttlebone for calcium. Just let it float in the tank and it will get nibbled on. I always keep one with my turtles.You can find them at the pet store in the bird section. Relax and ednjoy your new friend, you have many years together.

      • Novroz says:

        Hi Bobcindyl,

        Thank you soo much for helping out. You gave her more information than me….and that’s really great🙂

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Carina, sorry for the late reply.

      It’s normal for a turtle to get stressed on the first few days of arrival. I hope she is now already eating.

      Yes you take her out and let her explore the garden but you should always look at her or you might lost her.

      I only take my turtles to a vet when they aren’t well

  13. Lindsey says:

    How did you get your turtle to follow you?

  14. Emily Cox says:

    When I first rescued my red eared slider herbie I had no idea what to do! I was a little scared of taking care of a turtle! But I read this article and it has seriously helped me grow an amazing relationship with my turtle! My only question for you is how do you manage not getting salemenella? I was told 90% of turtles have it, so there is no use of getting him tested in my opinion. But because I let him roam and am touching him I am so worried of getting it! Let me know if you have any suggestions or anything you do with your turtles.

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Emily,

      Nice to know that you are having great time with Herbie.
      About salmonella, all reptiles have it. The worst of catching it ourselves is only having diarrhea so it’s not something I worried about. Just wash my hands after playing with them. Beside that, this is purely my opinion, we have antibody that can fight bacteria…so in the long process I believe I have become immune with their salmonella as I haven’t yet caught the disease in 10 years of having them and I often forgot to wash my hands after playing with them.

      But I always wash my hands now because I am pregnant now because I don’t know whether the baby can accept it or not.

      Don’t worry too much, just enjoy playing with them and always wash your hands before touching your food🙂

  15. It brought smile to my face when I read this.😀 I do own two red eared slider and yes they respond when I call their names. But I never let them walk around my home because I also have a dog and I’m afraid if she will harm turtles. But it is so relaxing to talk to my two little turtles. ( their names are Alu and Palu (Alu actually means potato in my mother language haha) And I love them so much. They make me happy when i feel down.🙂 and thank you for this blog. keep writing🙂

  16. Aria says:

    I found a baby tortoise.. a few days ago.. i named him salem.. for now he is in a box but i am building a nice home for him.. i hope he likes it..
    I really love your blod and i hope my salem opens up to me too.. sometimes when i grab him to take him out of his cage he gets scared.. although i leave him to roam on my bed and when he reaches the ends i keep my palm and steps in and waits for me to place him again.. he is hardly a year old i assume..

    • Novroz says:

      HI Aria,

      Thank you for liking my blog🙂
      I love hearing about your tortoise…I hope you will keep him and continue building good relationship with him

    • bobcindyl says:

      As much as you might not want to, it would be best for your tortoise if you returned it to the place you found it. Unless it is an invasive species. I’m not trying to be mean, just trying to help.

  17. roro says:

    Hello! Thats me roro! So i wanted to say that i potty trained my turtle.. kinda 😂 He holds his pee and poop til he gets to his tank. And he is being a good boy! He follows me around. Lift his self so i can care him. Likes to be petted. And he is so social with my other animals! I had 5 cats and a a parrot and 1 turtle and a tortoise in my house and he likes playing with them! Hes a good boy. Ive had him for 10 months now and its all because of you! Thanks alot! I love this site!

  18. Shivkumar Gaikwad says:

    Hii, I have 2 turtles one is Indian roofed turtle and another is Indian flap shell turtle, can I keep them together in one tank?????
    And my Indian flap shell only eat dried baby shrimps, he does not eat cucumber or coriander so what should I do

    • Novroz says:

      I don’t know much about those two species…maybe you can try putting them together but always watch them closely, if one is more agreesive then you need to separate them.

      As for food, you need to google the kind of food that species used to eat

  19. mareie says:

    Hi how can you tell what gender is the turtles? i have two turtles just like yours one with a red line on her face and the other with a yellow streak. Thanks

  20. Raghunandan Prasad says:

    I am so jealous of you!!
    You are amazing!
    Your turtles are lovely.
    I hope my dobey one day forms a similar bond with me!

  21. Julian says:

    Hi. I’ve had my turtle Aaron for like 5 years now but he still doesn’t really trust me. As of yesterday I started petting him and hand feeding him which has started to help. Thanks for that. Also, he seems like he wants to get out of his tank and wander around the house which I would like to do but my parents would not let me if I asked. Instead I’m taking him outside for a half hour every day and petting and feeding him there. Is this as helpful as letting him wander around my house?

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Julian🙂

      I am glad I can help.
      Based on my experience, when they are set free outside they tend to ignore me…it’s different with setting them free inside the house…but I fully understand if your parents won’t let you as they carry salmonella

  22. Alex Raven says:

    OMG it’s so great to find someone else who treats their turtles like I do! 😀
    I’ve always been lectured online for treating my Speedy and Sticky like my babies and giving them as much love and affection as I can. Sticky’s a lazy little baby who likes to sleep on my hands or lap. Sometimes he’s so lazy, he’ll want me to carry him to his food. Gawd forbid he takes a few steps towards that fish😄

    They both have their own unique personalities, and Speedy is like the protective older brother. Always looking out for Sticky and thinking of him first.❤. He also loves it when I carry him on my shoulder. Sometimes, he'll climb up on my head and just relaxes up there.

    They really are the sweetest angels. We do this thing where we touch noses. I call that a kiss. Those two tend to climb up and just press their noses against mine. They do it to each other as well. :3

    Anyways, so happy I came across this❤

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Alex🙂

      So happy to meet someone else like me🙂
      I love reading about your Speedy and Sticky, they sound like such adorable turtles. Let’s ignore whatever people say and continue loving our turtles😉

  23. Goldeen says:

    Hi. So I’ve had my turtle for a little over seven years and he seems to be doing alright, but is it normal if the shell is a little flaky? Is he just shedding or something? Also is it alright if he doesn’t have a water heater in the winter? (He’s lived for a long time without one because my father won’t buy one) How long do they live? How do I bond with him? I’ve tried all of the above methods, and the only thing he really does is eat out of my hand. He’s actually quite obedient. Thank you

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Goldeen.

      I can’t tell whether he is shedding or not because I can’t see how flaky his shell is.
      I don’t use heater because I live in a two season country but if you have winter it’s best to have a heater.
      Usually more than 30 years.
      Just follow what I have written up there, different turtle has different time to bod with his/her owner.

  24. Deejah says:

    Hi I av a small turtle I found it a bush and brought it home and I gave him lettuce water melon cabbage even water but refused to eat this is the 7th month he refused to eat and am worried I don’t want to return it back to the bush..need ur advice pls..

    • bobcindyl says:

      What if you were taken out of your yard and made to live with another species in a different environment, without freedom and against their will? That is what your turtle is most likely feeling.

    • Novroz says:

      I am sorry Deejah, but I agree with bobcindyl. Your turtle might be stress because it originally a wild animal.

      If you want to raise a turtle, it’s better to find a breeder

  25. Libby says:

    What if your turtle acts like your co worker and you still turn things around?

  26. shivangini says:

    Thank you for the information I love my turtles tooo

  27. Christian says:

    I have a male western box turtle he bites a lot and he gets hungry a lot and i wanna train him so he isn’t Aggressive or lazy i wanna bond with him i need help email me at

    • Novroz says:

      Just follow the things I did (written above) and just remember that turtles have different personality so different turtle will have different time to get used to you

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