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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:

1,113 responses »

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  1. Mia Vs Della says:

    Hey, me and my sister just got turtles yesterday.. my turtle makes these sighing sounds and won’t eat.. he hardly let’s me hold him and it’s a bit hard to get to know him.. any tips?

    • Novroz says:

      If you just get your turtles, don’t try to approach or handle him. You need to get to know him first. Calling names and make sure you are there when you feed him so he’ll know that you are the one feeding him. Once he gets used to you then you can try hand feed and handle him

  2. Lisa says:

    I agree with you about naming your pet turtle.My son got his about 3 years ago.He was the size of a quarter now he’s pretty big.Anyway he named him Bob.Everyday I talk to him and call him by his name.He gets excited and swims back n forth like he knows what I’m saying.So yes I do think they know their name.Of course they don’t understand like a cat or dog but they are smarter than you think.

  3. Angie says:

    I agree with you 100% my turtles name is Pops and from the moment i got him at a quarter size i have talked to him. i hand feed him sometimes he followes my finger when i put food in his tank, sometimes he waits for me to point out with my finger where the food is. When i take him out i let him run around on bed or in back yard while i follow him, i can pick him up and will let me rub his neck and head and rub his feet… He knows its me he is not scared of me..

  4. Katie says:


    I agree with you but im curious about letting my turtle explore the house. Beacuse there is a lot of dangerous stuff and I don’t know how to train my turtle to know where is dangerous for her. Do you have some tricks to help me?

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Katie..
      So sorry for this very late reply. I have been so busy lately.
      I never train them to do that because I don’t have any dangerous place. When Papoe was still very small, I guarded him with boxes so I could always where he was

    • Emily Pettit Cox says:

      You have a valid point about being afraid for your turtles safety. I personally don’t have my turtle out if I know I am moving things, or know that he could get hurt. I do close doors to places I don’t want him to go in. I also block of my living room sometimes. He loves to climb! He climbs my stairs, laundry basket, and coach. He is so curious, and loves interacting with people. He has been trained to not go to the bathroom unless in his tank. We have had a few accidents but very few for how much he is out. Give it a chance! They will love it!
      -Emily Cox

  5. Angel Turnmire says:

    I absolutely love both of my turtles….I talk babyish to them..but it’s so cute to see their reactions when I grab their food containers…they sit at the front of their tanks and poke their heads out of the water and wait….they still jerk away sometimes when I put my hands near them….but I know they love me….honestly I think my bigger turtle gets jealous of me paying attention to the baby….lol she sits and watches me until I stop playing with the baby….she makes me laugh…she’s such a curious turtle…my 8 month old RES is named Shelly….and my 1 month old Southern Painted Turtle is named Nelly…my dad says I’ve spent a fortune just keeping them this long…but honestly…they’re my best friends and I’d do anything for them….I love my turtles to death!

  6. Wow I have a lot to learn. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Grace Face says:

    Wow, this is incredible! I’ve got a 2 year old RES, and I’ve been wondering if there’s more I can do with him then just pet and feed him. I had no clue you could teach turtles tricks.. I’m currently working on getting him to not fear being out of water while I’m around, but we’re getting there. I’m so happy to know it’s possible to train him to do cool little tricks and come out of his shell more, both literally and figuratively.

  8. Willy says:

    Hey, I have questions my turtles , I got them when they were 6 months old and now I have them for two months and a half, I try to call them by names but they don’t seem to really care, I think the person who took care of them before didn’t really talk to them, and I hope that can change with time, when I come in the aquarium, they get excited, that’s cool I guess but I think they see me as a source of food, I try to play of them but they seem affraid or shy, and when I hold them in my hands they kinda want to get out, I want to show them that I love them but they don’t seem to know it, anyways thanks for answering

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Willy,
      be patience…it takes time. Turtles aen’t like cats and dogs. Some are easy to be closed with while others need longer time

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