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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:

1,166 responses »

  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

    • Aurora says:

      Hi, whenever I let my turtles out of their tanks, they like to explore new things. They will sometimes eat things that drop on the floor and small things that looks like food to them. To prevent them accidentally swallowing things on the floor, you just have to keep your floor clean and tidy. If you have places that you don’t want your turtle to go near, you just gently carry it away and say “no” firmly every time they go near there. I always do this when my turtles go somewhere I don’t want them to, and after some time, they have stopped going there. Turtles can understand things just like dogs and cats do too. 🙂

  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

  9. Sweta Prabhu says:

    Hi I am getting baby turtles at ma place .Please
    suggest suggest some tips to take care of them nicely

  10. kamau says:

    how do you get your turtle to come to you and how do you get it to like you?

    is there anything pacific that i use to play with it?

    do you recommend making a pond outside and let it swim there ??

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Kamau.
      I did all that have been written in the post 🙂

      If you have space, it is better to have them out in the outside pond

    • Aurora says:

      Hi, I have some tips that you might find useful to get your turtle to come to you. Every time you feed your turtle, use something like a ball with holes on a stick. You stick the food in the holes and hold the stick with the ball in front of your turtle. After a few weeks, just hand feed your turtle or drop the food into the tank and hold the stick with the ball near the food. This way, your turtle will understand that when there is a ball, there will be food. Then you can try holding the ball on the stick a far distance from the turtle and call your turtle’s name or attract it’s attention so it can see the ball. Your turtle will see the ball and recall that there will always be food around the ball. It will swim to you, and it is just as easy as that! Always remember to give your turtle some food after it has come to you as a reward. The next step is calling it’s name while holding the stick with the ball. Then progress to not using the stick with the ball anymore, but only calling your turtle’s name.

  11. Sheena says:

    Thanx for the advice I’m a first time turtle owner and this really helps. they are babies so we are still getting to know each other but why is it that one likes to be in the water and the other doesn’t

  12. harikasuri says:

    Thank you so very much for your article and especially the videos (along with the article of course!). This is very helpful for me. I just found a baby turtle two weeks back and have been very worried on how to take care of him. Everywhere on internet, it sounded so difficult like a duty and was scary with all their warnings, cautions etc. This is my first ever pet and I’ve never taken care of anything or anyone before. So I was obviously very much worried. You have no idea how lifted and light I feel after your article and the videos.

    So lovely of you to share them with us. I really truly can’t thank you enough. You made me feel so so good. I feel I can do it now. Thank you thank you thank you!!! Lots of Love to you and your dear turtles.

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Harikasuri,

      Good luck with being a turtle’s parent 🙂
      Treat him like family and you’ll enjoy his company like having a furry pet. I am glad I can help a bit to lift your spirit.

  13. kamau says:

    thanks for the help my turtle has more trust in me

  14. kamau says:

    my turtle tries to swim away if i put my hand on it in the water sometimes.
    What should i do

  15. kamau says:

    i tried but it didnt work

  16. Mayme Strandberg says:

    I think this is so great! Just yesterday I got an African Sideneck Turtle. Mozart is only 6-12months old right now. I’m hoping I can bond with him much like you are bonded with your turtles! 🤗

  17. Marla says:

    Omg, you’re amazing!! I LOVE how you’ve trained your turtles. I found you when searching for “turtles sleeping under covers.” I’ve noticed my baby turtles prefer to sleep outside under their little blanket. They love it! I place them inside a high-top plastic box, one small, soft blanket underneath and cover them with another lighter soft blanket. I got the idea from both my baby turtles going underneath my sweater when I was playing with them on my living room floor. I noticed they love being comfy. I totally believe it’s the persons energy they also follow and however you train your pets is how they’ll learn. You must have amazing, warm, loving, trusting, fearless energy so it’s easier for your turtles to follow the energy you exert! Lovely blog! 🙂 Thank you for sharing so much info!

  18. Marla says:

    I meant they like sleeping “outside the water” but inside my home 🙂

  19. Daniel says:

    I agree 99999999% I own a 2 plus year old eastern long necked turtle and when i call it’s name, it looks at me and smile (in a way)!!! 🙂

    sadly when i try to pet it’s neck still gets shocked 😦

  20. i have a little turtle named sunny.i got it a month ago and it is 1& a half inches. it s quite cute and friendly and when i go to feed her it knows and swims so fast it goes backwards. but it doesnt like me petting her, swims away when i even open the lid of the tank,or eat its leaves. i dont think i should let it walk freely, nor should it sleep with me. Is there an a more appropriate age for it? And, how can i tell its gender?The store keeper did not know.

  21. Barbara says:

    Loved your article! I have had my RES for over 7 years now and she definitely has her own, sweet little personality. While I have never let her sleep with me, I do talk to her all of the time and let her run around the house. In the summer, she also loves to run around in my rather large back yard. When it’s time to go in, she fights me on it. Kind of like a child. She has, however, only bonded to me as other family members just treat her like a turtle and don’t spend time with her. So, when they feed her she will flap around in their hands. For me she is quiet. Again, you have to spend time with your pet and you will get out of the relationship what you put in. All I know is, my Tutor the turtle is a doll.

  22. Natalie Romshak says:

    I have 2 Mississippi Map turtles- Max and Nellie. After having them for 5 month, Max got a respiratory infection resulting in me having to give him shots in his arm. Since then, he has been aggressive, he is getting bigger now and his little bites are harder on your finger. I talk right at his face and tell him “no” and most times he settles. I think I need to handle them more than just when I wash the tank and maybe this will help. Any suggestions?

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Natalie,

      Just follow everything I had written here but do not expect him to start trusting you immediately as it is different to each turtles to start showing affection to their owner

  23. Kaitlyn says:

    Is it safe for an aquatic turtle to sleep out of the water?

  24. Alexa, a friendly turtle owner says:

    I would love to play with my turtles like that and let them wander outdoors or in the house but would it be save for them and myself to have them wander around? Turtles can carry salmonella and I’m also not to sure if having them wander (with my supervision of course) would be safe having them exposed to different kinds of germs.

    • Novroz says:

      I always believe in human antibody.

      Yes, they carry salmonella but the more we got exposed to it the easier our body to fight against it. So far, not me, my husband or my little boy contracted with salmonella infection even though they are free to roam around the house

  25. C says:

    Great article! I would love to quote it in a turtle article that I’m writing about turtle affection. Do you think this would be possible?

    Talking to my RES really helped us to bond. I started singing to her and now she responds appropriately depending on the song. If I sing the song to say we’re headed to her outdoor pool, she gets excited and will flutter all the way to the outer door.

    Turtles are the coolest ever!

    • Novroz says:

      Thank you C 🙂

      Of course it’s okay…sorry for this very late reply as I still can manage my time between working and motherhood.

      Hear hear…turtles are so cool. Yours are awesome

  26. Kelly says:

    So adorable!

  27. turtle lover says:

    Hi, I have had my turtle for about two months. I named him neville and he would do this cute thing where I would put my finger in the tank and he’d touch his nose to my finger. Yesterday I tried it again and he tried to bite my finger. Once I let him out and he started running everywhere so I put him back, then I combined 4 cardboard boxes and put him in there and he was super bored. also he is a red eared slider.

  28. Jennifer says:

    Hi! My red-eared slider is very small and she was found in our backyard. My question is how do i teach her to swim? shes having floating. She just stays at the bottem of the tank. when she needs air she climbs the tank wall.

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      To be honest I don’t know how to train a turtle to swim because it’s supposed to be in their nature.

      But since he is not swimming well, make sure you keep him in shallow water

  29. Shubhangi Sharma says:

    Hey.. i got my res 6 months ago and i love him a lot.. i dnt know how to take his care and train him to alteast be with me. I call him Mishi.. whenever my mum or i goes to his room we always call his name. The problem is this that his shell is rotten now and when i want to sit with him or to spend time with him, all he do is climbling or roming and he dnt respind to my any gesture whether on me and then moving further or the cussion.etc. i tried to do that remote thing but he do not respond.. and i think he cant hear as he do not respond even if it is a sudden or loud sound.. pls help me i need help. I love him a lot but i think keeping him i spoiled his life. Thanks

    • Novroz says:

      Hi Subhangi,

      First of all, if his shell is rotting you need to give him a lot of sunbath or a UV lamp.

      As for making him recognize you, be patience with him. It took me 3 years to made Kroten understand her name and respond to me

  30. Aurora says:

    Thanks for your information! You are really amazing! It’s like you can talk to your turtles and they can understand you!

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