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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 :)

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: https://kamekroten.wordpress.com

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  1. Sasha robbins says:

    Is it to late to start this if your turtle is 1 yes old? I do hand feed him but haven’t let him walk around and always wants to get away from me.

  2. Heidi says:

    I was wondering how you found out thx gender of your turtles if you ever did. Mine are new (ish) (three years old). I don’t know how to find their gender and all though I have named them I feel as though I might’ve named a male “Shelby”.

  3. I truly believe what you are saying about the way you spend time with your turtles. were I reside is desert region, one day my boyfriend was out side and almost step on this turtle hiding under a piece of paper. through chain of command my daughter was brought outside to check out this paper. where this little guy came from is still a mystery. and nobody ever took the time to look for it( which is a shame). i thought it was a desert turtle but it wouldn’t eat. A employee at pet smart referred us to a reptile store. that is when we found out what we had found. by then we had this little guy for a week. looking at him today i realize he was in bad shape at that time. my daughter carried that little turtle all over the place and tired to care for it based on what we thought we had. imagine how surprised we were when the reptile store told us he was an African side-neck. we have had the turtle for 6 months. he has gotten much bigger and his color is better than that first week. my daughter is a teenager and she loves having the turtle hang with her. we let it run around the our house, she sleeps with him, even the chi-weenie got in on the action and treated him as though it was her off spring. these turtles are the coolest and easy going. and they do become attached to the people who care for them. he gets so excited when she comes home from school, and i do mean excited. she took the time to extend her love to him when he was probably close to death. and now they have this bond.

    My advise to anyone who is going to get any kind of animal, it doesn’t matter what it is, a snake,fish bird…whatever. If your only getting it as a display buy a statue its cheaper and you wont be disappointed when hear wonderful stories of people interacting with their pets. it is nice to know that there is someone else out there who doing same thing and we aren’t odd balls

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Annette,

      Thank you sooo much for sharing such beautiful story. I am glad you have saved the turtle and now he has special bond with your daughter. African Sideneck is a cute turtle. Good to know that your sideneck has bonded easily with your daughter, I myself still struggling to bond with my sideneck…he is such a shy turtle.

      I thought I was odd but after publishing this I am happy to know that there are many people like me and you :)

  4. morbid love says:

    I would love to sleep with my little turtle friend, but I sleep on a bunk bed and I am afraid that he will fall off! do turtles usually roam around at night? are they semi nocturnal or anything? I don’t want him to wake up in the middle of the night and walk right off the edge when I’m sleeping and can’t supervise him. Also I realize that you rinse them off before putting them back in the tank but do you rinse them off before you take them out and play with them as to make shure not to spread salmonella as they roam around? Do u dry them off or let them walk around wet? Do u dry them off before sleeping with them? I mean I don’t want to get my bed wet but I don’t want his shell to dry out…. please help!

    • Novroz says:

      At the beginning, they will roam around at night but as time goes they learned to sleep quietly at night. All my turtles now wake up when I wake up.

      I dry them off when I take them out of the tank because I don’t want to have wet floor or bed. I rarely rinse them when putting them back in. Yes there is Salmonella but I sort of ignore its existence for years because I think I have developed a good antibody against that bacteria

  5. Robert Bourgeois says:

    I thought i was nuts. My turtle craves holdings. He know where I sit, and comes over and scratches me to pick him up. I have a special pillow for him. He loves to lay with me when watching TV. He has the run of the House, and a wonderful water tank atmosphere. I just received another larger turtle, but they don`t seem to bother each other so much. I think they are so cool. They are my little buddies. I Just think they are the best pets.

  6. Bryce says:

    Can you train a wild turtle this way? I love turtles so much, I’ve been keeping them as pets for years. Sadly my red eared slider Norman passed away this last winter at age 53. I’d love to have a turtle imprint on me this way, is it possible to train a wild turtle like this or is it just not possible?

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Bryce :)

      Wow…I wish my turtles would live that long.
      I haven’t tried it on wild turtles but I think it’s applicable even on wild turtles. Probably will take longer time but I believe bonding can happen to any animal

  7. Keri says:

    I have a spotted turtle from the wild and I treat it just like this. He sleeps with me every night he walks around the house and now he even sticks out his little head when hes close to my face so I can kiss him ;) I’ve only had him for about 3 months too. I recently got a wild yellow belly slider and you can tell hes got some years on him so hes always scared because hes so use to the wild. Do u think hes able to train as well once he starts to trust us?

  8. Saita Elekar says:

    Hi! I need your help. I had two turtles. Marshall and Lily. I lost marshall yesterday. The doctor says he fell upside down in the water and got water into his lungs. I’m devastated. I need to know more about raising Lily right.
    Will Lily need a companion now that Marshall is gone? I don’t want her feeling lonely. She is around 4 months old.

    • Novroz says:

      I don’t think turtles need companion unless you want to breed them. All three of my turtles can’t stand each other and chooses to live in separate tanks

  9. chase says:

    Hi! I think it’s great that you spend quality time with your little turtle buddies. I try to do the same. However, some of Kame’s behavior seemed to indicate she was ready to lay eggs, but just didn’t have the appropriate ground/substrate to lay her eggs in. Turtles become oddly social with their owners if they are holding eggs. Additionally, sliders are picky about choosing nesting sites and will hold their eggs too long if not given the appropriate sandy/dirt mixture. This can lead to death and is hard to spot at first. I work for a veterinary office and most turtle owners don’t know that adult females need to be provided with a proper nesting site, even if males are not present. If a person had an issue with a female turtle, it was usually because she was gravid, cranky and wanted to lay her eggs somewhere nice!

    • Novroz says:

      Thank you for being observant but the video was taken a couple of years before she was gravid.

      She was gravid once and I learnt how to differentiate gravid turtle to normal turtle because of her.

  10. Alexeya says:

    Do you have a boy and a girl?

  11. kenisha says:

    Love the way you interact with them I miss my turtle I had to get rid of him because he was a wild turtle and we didn’t think he would make it because he was from the wild

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Kenisha :)

      Thank you and what you did is a great thing, a wild animal should stay wild. If you want to own a pet buy it from a breeder.

  12. renee says:

    is it better to have tWe turtles vs just one the red eared turtles?

  13. anonomys says:

    cool

  14. Thank you for your lovely post!
    I have two little terrapins, love them to bits and will hopefully develop the same bond. They are fairly new in my home and feel too small to roam around. I sometimes get nervous holding them because they seem scared and sometimes either hide away or run away, bless them. Do you have any advice? The smaller one also seems to jump and push around the slightly larger one…
    Thank you!

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Tianna :)
      Thank you for stopping by.
      If they are still too small, maybe you should let them roam around one by one not all at the same time.

      Or you can do the thing I did before, I make walls from books so they stay in one specific spot.

      As for pushing around, some turtles tend to be more aggressive. It’s okay as long as they don’t fight each other.

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