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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 πŸ˜‰

This post is to share how I train my turtles to be the sweetest turtles in the world πŸ™‚

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 β€œI 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 (extraΒ  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 πŸ™‚

Hope it will help your relationship with your turtles πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚


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:

1,117 responses »

  1. Hadiza Abdullahi says:

    My turtle don’t like eating but drinks only water am confused pls tell me what to do..tnx

  2. Tim Johnson says:

    what happend to Kame? =(

  3. Lori Jaffe says:

    Thank you so much . I have been doing alot of those things but it is nice to have them affirmed !!
    Thanks again 🐒

  4. Megan Sheard says:

    Hi! I’ve had my RES for 5 years. He eats out of my hand already and always gets excited whenever I’m near his tank. Is it too late to teach him the other things? Because he is still very shy when i touch him or pick him up.

  5. Scorpion Man says:

    Turtles suck, get a scorpion.

  6. great swipe says:

    My turtles bite my fingers always :// thinking its a food? dunno :!

  7. Robert Alexander says:

    How do you keep up with making sure salmonella doesn’t become a problem?

    • Novroz says:

      Wash my hands after I handle them…plus I believe in antibody, I handle them for years so I my body has developed antibody against salmonella as I have never had problems with salmonellosis

      • Robert Alexander says:

        Well I was mainly asking about when you bring them to bed with you,but I do suppose you are right in that eventually you may build up anti-bodies to help protect you just as the turtles build up some to protect themselves from what you give them.

      • Novroz says:

        Ah…I see!!
        Actually, I don’t put them on my bed often…they stay on their on ‘bed’ next to my bed

  8. ur1994 says:

    i wanted an advice.. i m from india nd i hav a local turtle.. i initially kept it with fishes in an aquarium. bt after a month it strted to eat my fishes.. so i separated it and kept in a tub.. nw i want to build an indoor pond nd hav my turtle and fishes together.. hw cn i arrange such thing… and plz also suggest me wat vegetarian items i cud feed my turtle..

  9. Sam says:

    My turtle is very shy. I feel as though it’s mostly my fault. I’ve had her, Leslie, for around 4 years now. When I first got her she was very social and enjoyed playing. I let her climb around on my bed and I handled her almost everyday, or whenever I had chance to. I started working and getting busy and haven’t had time to handle her and play with her. She gets very aggressive when I take her out to clean her tank and hisses and tries to bite me. After I clean her tank she seems very agitated and nervous when she’s put back in. I know she knows her name, she looks whenever I say it and when it’s food time I shake the bag of food and she gets excited, but she doesn’t seem to like me anymore. 😦 Is it too late for me to bond with my turtle again even though she’s become very aggressive and anti social? Any tips?

  10. bobcindyl says:

    Novroz, thankyou so much for this blog. And for making sure to respond to others in need. It is helping many people. You are a good person.

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Bob…
      Thank you for always helping out by answering some questions as I am very busy now. I wish I can give response as fast as I used to, but I have little human to take care now.
      You are also a good person Bob πŸ™‚

  11. fruittloop says:

    This is cool. My turtles have such personalities n I hate how many people are shocked by that fact! One of my turtles likes to snap at everything that moves, he doesn’t seem to be doing it in a nasty way, just what he does. He loves attention, sleeps on my shoulder every evening, but when he’s walking around, everything that moves is fair game… any suggestions??

    • Novroz says:

      Wow…this is the first time I heard such behaviour. I don’t have any suggestion as I haven’t found such case with my turtle yet. Sorry I couldn’t help

  12. Paris says:

    Hi I own three turtles sunny missy and scary scary is the smallest one sunny is the biggest and missy is in the middle missy is the shy scary use to but now he isn’t sunny is very active but I don’t know how to do it they won’t listen only have then for like a half year plz help ms this is my mom phone

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Paris,
      Just follow what I have written here but the effect will different to each turtles. Just be patience

      • Paris says:

        Hey I got I new phone but I let my turtles play around my room I called them by there name talk to them but they still Sony listen I tired that hand thing they won’t stand still also missy is very mean to me now she bits me and hiss at me also I can’t handle them that good cuz they scratch me

  13. bADiYCH says:

    Got a 3 year old Painted Turtle for my son. Although I am the one who takes care of him and hes shows excitability when I am near his tank. But i have been playing with him since we brought him home and I set up his tank.

    I thought i was crazy that Spike (my sons name for him) wanted to play. I dont take him out of his tank habitat often since we have carpet. But i do play with him throughout the day and call him by name often. Fed by hand sometimes has never tried to bite me.

    Thanks for the info, good read.

  14. Joby says:

    Very nice to see this video. We have two turtles and they have names.If we call them they come to near. Just feed by hand. They like music. If we play a music, they listen the music and sometimes dancing with music. So adorable.We took some videos of their dance.They are our valuable pet.

  15. Nicole says:

    Thank you so much for this. I wanted to get a turtle but after everything I’ve seen with how turtles shouldn’t be held or treated like an actual pet I didn’t see the point. I’m going to try this out. Thanks again.

    • Novroz says:

      Yes I know.. So many sites are saying that…I won’t say they are wrong but doing what you think is right is better than just following what people said

  16. Paris says:

    I did what you did to tell me they still won’t listen when I tried to pet them there going into there shell

    • Lillian says:

      I have a red eared slider and I have trained him in the morning when I feed him to go up to his rock, follow my finger, and now I am trying to teach him to eat out of my hands. I have used this website for awhile now. Anyways, I was wondering how much water Is appropriate in a turtle’s tank. My turtles tank only fill up until it covers his back. If I fill more he looks uncomfortable. Any ideas?

      • Novroz says:

        Slowly raise the water. I read it somewhere it said 50 gallon for every inch of the turtle size. I can’t provide that much but at least my turtles are swimming freely in a 250L tank

    • Novroz says:

      It takes a lot of patience because not all turtles behave the same

  17. Anna says:

    I had 2 red eared sliders. I fed them by hand when they were little. Not so much as they got bigger because they were very eager when it comes to food. They were never aggressive towards me, but unpredictable when it came to others. I had a no touch policy if people wanted to touch or handle them. If people chose to ignore me I would wait until they turned their backs to me, and I would hold up my hand and the turtles would rise up out of their tank like JAWS with the mouths wide open anticipating a treat. Scared the heck out of people, but they got the point after that. Best pets ever. If your pet turtles do let you touch them, consider yourself lucky because they trust you completely not to hurt them.

  18. Leah ochoa says:

    I have never had a turtle before, my mother in lae had one in a plastic container just sitting outside paying no attention to the slidder. I bought a tank and brought “her?” Inside. We call her shelly. I let her wonder the house as she pleases. She chases after me, its the funniest thing! Ive grown attached her. I didnt know turtles had so much personality!!

  19. Becks says:

    ive had my red eared slider since 1998! she’s 19 now and still going strong. Since ive had her since i was a child we havnt always been comfortable with each other till she was about 6 or 7.. I took it upon myself to gain her respect and eventually i did. They are very affectionate creatures. She will sleep on my lap, sit on my lap for hours and just look at me and look around.. likes having her head, arms feet stroked. She follows me around an when i wink at her she winks back (strange but true) sometimes we wink back and fouth… I also feed her with my fingers and hold her up to follow the food whilst shes eating.. Like mentioned above, i let her roam around the house like its her advice to knew owners would be give them time, give them freedom, show them respect!, show them affection and they will look at you very differently. There very affectionate

  20. Bosco Yeung says:

    I’m in love with your turtles!! ❀

  21. SayonROY says:

    Hello, I was looking for many sites to see if turtles recognize or reacts or play outside the tank. I was sad until I see this page. Now I will surely go to bring a RES baby, & raise him lovingly. can you please tell me, how long I should keep him outside water in a day?
    Really this is the best guide πŸ™‚

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Roy,
      Most people will say don’t let the turtles out but they are more gentle if they are allowed to play outside.

      I usually let them out for a night as they outside their tanks

  22. Samantha says:

    Hello!! I love this blog post a lot of really is nice to hear all this c: however I have a turtle that is 6-7 years old and a baby who is almost a year old and both of them are so shy! They hide and don’t like to be held! I really want them to grow onto me as I love them both :c what are some tips on getting them slowly use to me? Like should I start by just petting them in their tanks or hand feeding? My 6-7 year old turtle also hates to be held and I have no idea how to approach holding her?

    • Lettoria says:

      Just play with her like play loud music and get her to respond.

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Samantha πŸ™‚
      sorry for this very late reply….I still need to adjust my time after being a mom.
      Just follow everything I have written here, but you need extra patience because your turtle is no longer a baby so he will need time to be comfortable with you. Don’t touch them if they don’t have trust on you yet

  23. Samantha says:

    How often would be appropriate to take a shy baby turtle out the tank? My baby RES Iggy runs and hides from me, but I want to get her more use to my presence without stressing her out… but she also does not eat from my hand yet… should I wait until she eats from my hand or try taking her out already?

    • Lettoria says:

      Take her out of the tank.

    • Novroz says:

      You can do both. When you let him out just watch him and call his name, don’t scare him by forcing yourself to approach him.
      Before handfeeding, you can first give him food and watch him eat. When he is comfortable eating with yo around then slowly hand feed him.

  24. Rainie says:

    Hi! Im so glad someone else treats their turtles this way!! i always do this i even have a bed next to mine for my turtles! My turtles are sushi and maki they are 1 and 9 months respectively. i agree with you on all point turtlws have to be loved from the start not just looked at like an object.

  25. Wow i love this this makes me want to do the same with my turtles

  26. Lettoria says:

    Our turtles does not follow us,do not eat,do not play with us and hide in their shells when we call their names they don’t reply to us.What do we do?

  27. Lettoria says:

    I just found out that my male and female turtles were kissing mouth to mouth.What does that mean?

  28. Lettoria says:

    I found out that the tank that I put my turtles always have white coloured torn pieces left behind. The surroundings is clean.What could have happened?

  29. berry says:

    hey,i was reading the part where you where writing about calling your turtle and then I looked at my turtle and said her name and she immediately looked back it was so cute and funny.

  30. Sadturtleowner says:

    My trutle hates me guts ;-;

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