The answer is no. Turtles shouldn’t live in the same tank with other reptiles because there’s a likelihood they will fight either with snakes, lizards, or other reptiles living in the same tank. The fact that a fight could leave both animals hurt is the main reason why you shouldn’t keep them together. There are other reasons as well why placing turtles with other reptiles in the same tank is a bad idea.
Let’s start by highlighting a few basic facts about each reptile to see their needs and why keeping them in the same enclosure may not be a good idea.
Turtles share some characteristics that make them reptiles. Of course, the difference is they have a shell in which they can retract. As tiny, harmless, sweet, and innocent as turtles appear, they can also be very mean and bite.
A turtle’s bite is powerful enough to cause a scratch and pain. This, combined with their ability to hide inside the shell, make the turtle extremely dangerous.
Most turtles today are small in size, but in some places of the world, turtles are huge, e.g., the Galapagos tortoise that can reach 5 feet and weigh well over 200 kgs.
Also, some turtles are purely aquatic, living in rivers, lakes, and oceans. At least seven species live in oceans, while others live in the desert. The only place you won’t find turtles is Antarctica.
Most people believe that snakes are extremely dangerous and should even be avoided if possible. In contrast, most owners won’t stop praising their snake pet as harmless and sweet.
There are indeed lethal snakes out there, but a bigger portion is harmless. Snakes are unique in appearance, which makes it impossible to mistake them for any other reptile.
The very long and slender scaly body without limbs stands out. Unlike turtles, snakes thrive on land than in water. Snakes are found on most continents, most likely in tropical areas.
Lizards differ significantly from other groups of reptiles – they differ in appearance with one another and exist in many different species. There are over 6000 species of lizards today, with the most common ones being geckos, chameleons, the Iguanas, and the Komodo dragons.
Most lizards are four-legged with a tail, and some species have a weak tail that’s prone to breakage. Fortunately, it grows back after a while. The smaller species of lizards are the most prominent with bright protruding eyes.
Like snakes, lizards have scales that usually mimic their environment. Some, like the chameleon, can even switch their color to match the surrounding.
Like other reptiles, lizards can be found in most places of the world apart from Antarctica. Lizards generally prefer areas with lots of heat, rocky areas, deserts, and marshes.
Most pet turtles will require a tank filled with water, but some will live on land. As a rule of thumb, a turtle tank should be filled with 10 gallons of water for every inch of the shell. As the turtle grows bigger or introduction of a second turtle, the rule may start to apply less and less as more water is needed.
Water gets messy really fast, and sometimes it could take the turtle several days to saturate the tank with another mess.
Turtles do not thrive in dirty water and could get ill if they spend long periods in it. Still, turtles are more tolerant to dirty water than other reptiles.
Turtles rely on a water filter to keep the tank clean for a bit longer. The problem with an aquarium filter is it’s noisy for the lizards liking. Having constant noise near lizards can make them stay tense all the time.
You also need to heat the water in the tank depending on the species of turtle you have, but it’s usually between 75 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit (270C).
Turtles also need a separate area to bask or the basking area. The temperature needed for the basking area differs from species to species, but it’s usually somewhere around 900F. You can gather the heat and UV rays from a UV light bulb.
Finally, turtles love plants as food. In fact, a plant can’t share the space with a turtle for too long before it’s eaten. In captivity, most plants are put in the aquarium as decorations.
Snakes can live in two different enclosures, a cage or a terrarium. Terrarium is more similar to tanks because they both have four glass walls plus the bottom part with an open top. Cages are similar, but they are made of metallic nets and wood instead of glass.
The cage size or terrarium is determined by the species and size of the snake. For instants, Kingsnakes, milk snakes, rat snakes, and gopher snakes need about 35 – 45 gallons. Others like pythons and boa constrictors might need custom sizes.
Different snake species also thrive in certain levels of humidity. The garter snake, for example, requires less humidity than species that live in tropical areas.
There are a variety of ways by which you can maintain good humidity inside the enclosure. Some ways include using a store-bought device, spraying water, and using a towel.
The temperature requirements are similar to turtle’s at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit but may vary a bit depending on species. The basking area should have a temperature of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. As such, snakes also require a UV or heat bulb.
That said, the requirements of snakes and turtles are quite similar because both of them can stay at the same temperature. The main difference is turtles spend more time in the water, so it’s nearly impossible to keep them in the same tank.
The snake will need to have its own separate tank filled with the land. But if you are building your enclosure outside, this is possible.
Moreover, some turtles like the Box can live exclusively on land, while some snakes spend more time in the water, but these are uncommon as house pets.
Lizards in captivity usually live in tanks like turtles. The main difference is that the tanks are filled with dirt, substrate, or similar stuff. They also have a high ground with wood and some rocks. In the wild, lizards spend more time on higher grounds for comfort.
The temperature of the basking area is similar to turtles at around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The surrounding area is also similar to that of other reptiles at 800F. similarly, the temperature varies with different lizard species.
Lizards require higher humidity, which you can achieve by spraying them water, placing a water bowl in the tank, or using a wet towel.
Tank size varies greatly from one species to another – small-sized species will need smaller tanks of about 10 gallons while medium-size species can require up to 40 gallons. The bigger species of lizards require custom sizes.
Unlike turtles and snakes, many lizards need to have some kind of plant in tanks for hiding, climbing, and more. So, having a plant in their tank can greatly benefit them.
While there are many similarities with turtles, a few differences make it impossible to have them in the same tanks. For example, turtles will quickly eat the plants that lizards need in their tank.
An even bigger problem is that lizards live on land while turtles spend most of their time underwater. It won’t work unless you have a huge tank with one side half-filled with water and the rest land.
Most turtles can feed on both plant-based and meat. In other words, most turtle pet species are omnivorous, consisting of dried insects, pellets, fish, worms, veggies, and fruits. Keep in mind that your turtle’s diet requirements with change as it ages.
Snakes are mostly carnivorous, eating rats and mice, but some species are ovo-vegetarians, meaning they feed on eggs.
Some people recommend killing the prey before feeding it to snakes because it can harm the snake in defense, but generally, it should not be a big concern. However, the prey should not be wider than half the diameter of the snake.
Snakes won’t show any interest in turtle’s food, but this is not the same about the turtle. These shells will just munch on anything they can, so there’s a good chance that they will eat the snake’s supper. This could lead to a conflict for resources.
Most lizards feed on insects and small bugs. The bigger ones, like the Komodo dragons, are ferocious predators that are known to hunt pigs and deer.
Some lizards are not carnivorous, though like the iguana, which are herbivores eating leaves, berries, and fruits.
The diet of the lizard doesn’t change as much. Both the turtle and the lizard have similar diets and will end up fighting for food if they are kept in the same enclosure.
Can Turtles Live With Bearded Dragons?
There isn’t a real threat keeping a bearded dragon with a turtle in the same place. In fact, they can get along pretty well under most circumstances as long as they have plenty of own living space.
Both species tend not to be aggressive in nature towards other animals as long as they are not predatory.
It’s advisable to keep them in a separate tank, though. Should you decide to put them together, always keep an eye on the interaction.
Can Turtles Live With Lizards?
Turtles may not fight the lizard, and vice versa is also true. In short, lizards and turtles should get along just fine.
However, keep in mind that turtles are omnivores, and if you put small lizards in the same tank with these shelled guys, they risk getting eaten, so keep this in your mind when keeping these two under the same roof.
It’s important to learn that it’s not advisable to keep different species of reptiles together because they can transfer harmful bacteria to one another.
How to Know If It’s Safe for Reptiles to Cohabitate?
Ideally, you need to do thorough research when putting two animals in the same enclosure, whether they are of the same or different species. Some things to consider include:
Space – all animals ought to feel abundant with places to hide and enough food. If you decide to keep two reptiles in the same room, make sure there’s enough room for each to cool off and bask without competing.
Parameters: You also need to ensure that the temperature and humidity are regulated and suitable for all animals living within the enclosure.
For instance, you don’t want to keep a desert species with a tropical species because these two are likely to have extremely different temperature and humidity requirements.
Temperament – you also need to check on the aggression of the reptiles. It can be as simple as ensuring the male and female stay together when it matters.
Diet – one of the biggest concerns when keeping pets is diet. When underfed, reptiles are likely to prey on others within their vicinity. Ensure that these animals can eat safely with minimal stress, even if this means moving the two animals in separate enclosures.
Cohabitation Tips and Tricks
Introduce the Reptiles in a Neutral Space First
it’s best to introduce your turtle to other reptiles in a neutral space first before putting them in the final cohabitation space.
This is a chance to observe if they can get along well before moving into the enclosure together.
Use a small enclosure such as a turtle pen to observe if your pets act aggressively and territorial or a fight breaks out over partners or food.
Experiment and Make Adjustments Accordingly.
Having done your initial research to find out if your turtle can coexist with another reptile, you will have to make adjustments to the setup as needed.
For this reason, you should always have a backup home for your pet in case you need to separate them.
This is often the case if the reptiles end up becoming too aggressive and territorial with each other, which can lead to physical fights.
Maintain a Watchful Eye
after introducing your turtle to its new live-in friend, you need to watch on them for the first couple of days and note how they interact with each other. This is the only way you can notice any aggression that might be brewing and separate the reptiles on time.
Maintaining a watchful eye during the feeding time will allow you to take note of the turtle’s feeding habits and make sure that all occupants in the enclosure get their fair portion of food.
Find Out the Gender of Your Reptiles First.
Before placing your turtle and other reptiles in the same enclosure, you should find out their gender and separate the males and females to reduce the occurrence of aggressive and territorial behaviors.
If you are having trouble identifying their genders, you should contact a vet to get the reptiles professionally sexed to avoid potential mishaps during cohabitation.
House Females Together
after separating the males and females, you can house the female turtles together as they can tolerate each other relatively well.
On the other hand, Males often view other male reptiles as competition and often result in aggression when housed together in the presence of females. Avoid housing males together if you notice that they are stressing each other.
Don’t House Different-Sized Reptiles Together
while body size varies from one turtle to the other, body size is often a good general indicator of the pecking order. Reptiles will often get aggressive to smaller animals, which can be fatal.
To avoid such accidents, you should separate different-sized turtles and only cohabitate those that are f the same age and size.
Quarantine and Clean the Guests
Before introducing new pets to your turtle, you should quarantine them for at least three days to make sure they don’t have any illness or parasites that can infect your pet.
While at it, you should also clean the newcomers and disinfect both animals for q fresh start in their shared enclosure.
Provide Environmental Enrichment
even with a new mate in the enclosure, your turtle will still need external stimulation in the form of environmental enrichment. To accomplish this, you will have to provide stimulation to tune your turtle’s senses and instincts.
You can stimulate searching and hunting for food to stimulate your turtle by hiding small treats within the enclosure. You can also add live bait to the tank, such as small fish, shrimp, and insects.
The enclosure should also have enough natural rocks and pebbles for your turtles to explore and forge through.
Fresh plants provide a change of scenery, and some turtle varieties even snack on the leaves. Ensure that the other reptiles can also hunt the live prey you introduce.
Maintain Ideal Water Conditions
part of maintaining healthy reptiles in an enclosure involves providing them with fresh and clean water.
Turtles spend a considerable amount of time in the pool, and the water tends to get dirty pretty quickly if you have more than one animal in there.
Start by de-chlorinating the tap water before adding it into the aquarium to support the growth of beneficial bacteria.
You can set up a water pump fixed to a filter to eliminate solid waste and ammonia products from the water to keep your reptiles healthy and happy.
Provide Adequate Heating
Turtles and other reptiles cannot regulate their internal temperatures on their own, and instead, they rely on external sources of heat to warm up.
The cohabitation enclosure should provide adequate heating to meet the required temperature gradient for the resident reptiles.
A basking area should also be set up and include a heat spotlight so that your pets can dry and raise their body temperature once they get out of the aquarium water.
Provide a UVB Source
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is necessary to synthesize vitamin D3 in turtles and other reptiles. Without UVB, they cannot synthesize vitamin D3, which is critical for calcium absorption.
Turtles with vitamin D3 deficit often have bone and shell deformations. Adding a UVB tube to the enclosure will expose the turtle’s skin to UV radiation, and the cells will synthesize the vitamin.
Turtles and reptiles with calcium deficiency end up with abnormal muscle development and unregulated hormones, among other defects.
Animal experts recommend that turtles get on average 8 hours of UVB lighting if they live in captivity, keep in mind that UVB tubes wear out within six months. They need to be replaced even if they are producing fluorescent light.
Be On the Lookout for Respiratory Infections.
Reptiles often get stressed when introduced into new habitats, which can lead to respiratory infections, especially if the enclosure has high humidity and low temperature. Symptoms include wheezing, continual gaping, lethargy, heavy breathing, and mucus from the mouth or nostrils.
If you notice any of these symptoms after cohabiting your pets, you should separate them immediately and get in touch with the vet.
Deciding on new living arrangements for your turtles and other reptile pets can be hectic. Taking care not to inconvenience the turtle’s comfort and health you can cohabitate them with other species safely without any severe territorial aggressions.
However, you should always discuss any changes in your pet turtle’s living arrangements with your vet to avoid any unintended conflicts between the reptiles that might negatively affect their health.
Most turtle owners find that their pets don’t like the idea of having extra company within the enclosure, although some species don’t seem to mind it.