Should You Let Your Turtle Walk Around? (Full Guide)

Turtles are endearing animals, which is why they make some of the best pets. Their adorable facial expressions, gentle habits, attractive patterns, and relaxed nature makes them the best companion to keep in your household.

But like any other pet, turtles require specialized care and a comfortable environment to thrive and remain in a tip-top shape.

Every turtle species has its unique needs and requirements, but it’s nothing a regular person can’t handle.

Consistent care is a prerequisite for keeping a pet. But for a turtle, it’s more of a long-time commitment since these creatures can live up to 100 years.

Although everything about keeping your turtle healthy and safe is in the public domain, there’s a contentious issue on whether it’s right to let your turtle stroll or roam around.

As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to give your pet turtle the most exciting life. However, the bugging question is, should you let the turtle walk around?

We have conducted in-depth research and compiled a comprehensive article to help you understand whether letting your turtle walk around is a great idea.

Copyright: danross

Should I Let My Turtle Walk Around?

Despite being slow and somehow lazy, turtles require an adequate amount of stimulation and exercise. They also need to fulfill their inherent inclination to explore and satisfy their curiosity.

Therefore, it is essential to let your turtle take a stroll either inside its enclosure or in the yard. Taking a walk will provide this cute creature with mental stimulation and allow them to exercise and have a fresh breath of air.

However, you need to ensure that various safety measures are in place in advance to help protect this cute reptile.

More importantly, you will have to leave whatever you’re doing and supervise the turtle as it roams around the yard or enclosure. This will help you spot anything that might put the turtle’s life in danger or when it tries to escape through small spaces on the walls. 

Should You Let the Turtle Out of the Tank?

Yes, it’s vitally essential to give your turtle a short break from the tank. The best thing is to let it stroll in an enclosed area, such as a room.

Letting your pet turtle free in an enclosed room guarantees their safety and enables you to control some integral variables, such as temperature and cleanliness.

You need to ensure the room’s floor is clean before letting the pet loose. Usually, turtles don’t follow a steady walking pattern but wander until they hit the wall.

If the floor is littered with debris and dust, you can be sure that the turtle will be covered with this kind of dirt once they’re done roaming.

It’s crucial that you carefully inspect whether the turtle has peed or defecated in the room. This is because the excrete carries the Salmonella bacteria, which can cause severe diarrhea and stomach upsets when ingested.

Make sure that kids don’t come near this area before it’s disinfected and thoroughly cleaned. Also, remember to always wash your hands using flowing water and antiseptic every time you handle a turtle.

Should I Walk the Turtle?

Although turtles move steadily and slowly, there are pet owners who take them out for walks. You’ll be surprised to learn that there are even unique leashes and harnesses designed for pet turtles.

So, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll invest in a turtle harness and take it out for adventure or not.

However, you should know that turtles don’t walk in a controlled and strategic manner. They are often motivated by food and will always head to the shrubs and plants to forage.

Don’t expect them to follow any strict walking protocol or any training. Additionally, turtles don’t love staying in exposed places and will always try to hide under rocks.

Therefore, if you’re thinking of walking your pet turtle, you shouldn’t expect much since these creatures stroll and aren’t socially ambitious.

Benefits of Letting Your Turtle Take a Stroll

Like any other pet, turtles too should be allowed to roam outside their tanks or aquarium. In the wild, turtles can embark on land travel several meters away from the water. In the same light, domesticated pet turtles need to be given ample time out of the water for various reasons. These include:


When you observe a turtle for hours, your initial impression will be that the creature isn’t active, and there’s no way it will need any exercises. Surprisingly, turtles are very active animals that love moving around, although slowly than all the other pets.

In the wild, you’ll find them climbing on rocks and even walking overland for several kilometers. While most people provide sizeable tanks with rocks where turtles can climb, they fail to provide ample space where turtles exercise by walking.

Letting your pet turtle walk around not only provides an outlet for energy but also helps it stay in tip-top shape.

 Although turtles get the proper nourishment when domesticated, the tanks they’re often kept in are relatively smaller than water bodies in the wild. For this reason, the turtles can add weight and reserve plenty of unused energy. This can lead to potential health problems. 

When you let them out of the tank, turtles get the chance to exercise and use the stored energy, thereby cutting back the extra pounds.

Mental stimulation

Don’t let the shy nature of turtles fool you. The creatures also get bored and like exploring from time to time.

When you confine your pet turtle in its water tank for a long time, it starts to get bored.

Letting the turtle walk around provides an essential foundation for mental well-being. When outside the tank, the turtle will get a chance to explore the sounds, sights, and smells of the external world.

Sometimes, being confined in the tank for too long can make the pet turtle aggressive.

Allowing it to roam freely in an enclosed area will help it rebalance and rediscover what it has been missing. This can help shun aggressive behavior and promote a more enjoyable life.

Lengthen and improve quality of life

The health benefits of walking in human beings are balance and coordination, mood lift, and strengthening of the bones.

For turtles, walking can help improve agility, regulate weight and relieve indigestion. This helps give your turtle more longevity and improved quality of life.

Turtles may seem contented with being fed and placed in an enclosed tank. However, if you have ever observed them when in the wild, you understand that they need to do more than climb on small stones and bask.

So, if you want to give your turtles a long, worthwhile life, let them roam or stroll around.

Provides more bonding time

Turtles may seem uninterested in bonding or showing affection towards their owners, but they can actually learn to distinguish them from the rest.

While letting your pet turtle walk may not foster its social interaction capabilities, it helps it feel safe and builds its confidence.

When constrained in its water tank or pool, it is challenging to know whether your turtle has developed some form of attraction towards you.

However, you can determine whether it trusts you or feels affectionate towards you when you let it walk around.

Unlike other pets such as dogs and cats that show affection by hugging or wagging their tails, turtles show appreciation by following the owner or sitting close to them.

So, besides making it feel safe and comfortable, letting the turtle roam can create some bonding time to observe whether the turtle is following you or trying to sit next to you.

Allow you to clean its tank uninterrupted

Hygiene is one thing that should be maintained at all times when taking care of a pet turtle home. Allowing the turtle to walk around will keep them occupied as you tidy up and clean their tank.

Considering that these creatures carry Salmonella, You should routinely clean their habitats to reduce the risks of you or any of your family members getting sick.

Getting them out of the tank will ensure that they don’t feel aggrieved as you empty, replace the water, and clean their feeding areas.

Can you Let Your Turtle Walk Outside?

Since an outdoor space inherently boasts more risks and dangers, allowing your turtles to roam in such areas can be detrimental.

So, unless you plan and adopt various measures that guarantee keeping your turtle safe, letting your pet experience the outdoor environment can be a disaster.

Although some pet turtle owners recommend using wire pens to create outdoor enclosures, the issue of turtles poking their heads under the barrier has become prevalent. 

Some turtle owners claim that walled gardens make ideal turtle exploration areas. However, these cunny reptiles can get out through gaps and spaces on the walls and spaces under gates.

Since the reptiles are curious but not intelligent enough to know whether they can fit in small spaces, you may find them stuck in the tiniest holes.

Measures to Adopt Before Letting a Turtle Walk around Outdoor Spaces

Seal All Loopholes or Spaces on the Wall

Despite their slow movement, turtles are curious reptiles that will try to fit in any space they see around your compound. Closing all openings on walls or under the gate will ensure that they stay put at all times.

Get Rid of All Ingestible Items

Turtles have a high appetite for food and will always try to consume anything they deem edible. So, if you have dog food, small rocks, kids’ toys, pebbles, hair, or other small items in your yard, be sure to remove them before you let your turtle loose.

Create a Barrier between the Yard/Garden and the House

Since turtles carry Salmonella, you shouldn’t allow them anywhere near the house. You can erect a wire pen barrier, but ensure that it’s permanently fixed on the ground to ensure that the turtle doesn’t stick its head under it.

Keep Other Pets Away

Although several videos of turtles, cats, and dogs seemingly living harmoniously on the internet, reptiles and other pets are not often good friends. So, before bringing out the turtle, ensure that the cat and dog are nowhere near that places. If a cat or dog snaps, it can inflict painful bites on your docile turtle pets.

Keep the Children Away

Ensure that your kids don’t come close to the area where the turtles are roaming. They should keep off this spot even after the turtles have been taken back to their tank to give you enough time to disinfect.

Since the Salmonella stays on dry surfaces for up to four hours before losing its potency, you can leave it for a day or two without being disturbed.

Dangers of Letting Your Turtle Roam Outside

There are various publications on the web touting the benefits of letting your pet turtle stroll in the yard or garden.

 However, what most of these publications fail to mention is that having a turtle move freely in your compound has a lot of dangers. It not only poses a risk to you and members of your family but also to the pet itself.

Potential Dangers of Letting Your Turtle Outside

Getting Lost

Turtles may seem slow, but they can disappear in seconds once they are allowed to move freely. They like hiding in disguised places such as under rocks, underwater, or deep into the sand in their natural habitat.

When placed in open and unfamiliar territory, your pet turtle will experience undue stress, and its first instinct will be to seek a good hiding place.

No matter how much preparation you’ve made, turtles will always find a spot to hide, whether it’s a dark corner, in the flower garden, or even under fallen branches.

Conversely, they can easily escape through small spaces on the wall or under the gates.

Getting Injured

Due to their choreographed art of hiding in dark places, turtles can be stepped on or kicked unknowingly by their owners.

Since turtles are always curious, they will try to ingest anything they deem edible. You’ll find several exciting stories about turtles eating weird items, including rocks, dog food, rat poison, jewelry, hair, wires, and even dust bunnies.

If they manage to get out of the compound, they can also become prey to various predators, which can inflict severe injuries.

Lastly, turtles don’t have the best relationship with other house pets. While they may seem happy together with cats and dogs, when instincts kick in, it will only be a matter of minutes before the cat or dog bites the turtle.  

Therefore, since keeping them apart while in the same outdoor space is challenging, the best option is not to let the turtle roam in an enclosed environment such as a room. 

Other pets also face the threat of getting Salmonella infection from turtles, which can cause diarrhea and gut pain.

Why Letting a Turtle Roam Outside is Unsafe for You

Salmonella Infection

One dangerous thing about turtles is that they carry a disease-causing bacteria; Salmonella.

Although the bacteria don’t affect them, it is easily transmitted to humans. Actually, the United States banned the sale of young turtles under four inches in 1975 to curb the spread of Salmonella.

For instance, the Salmonella outbreak in Jan 2020, which was linked to turtle pets, affected 26 people, and eight were hospitalized. For this reason, letting a turtle roam freely around your home is discouraged.

Research indicates that the Salmonella bacteria can survive for more than four hours on any dry surface in your household. Even turtles that appear clean and tidy also carry this bacteria under their shell and skin.

Remember, the risk of infection in your household increases if young children, people with decreased immune systems, and senior citizens are present.

So, this is why it’s not advisable to let a turtle stroll around your compound.

Turtle Bites

Another danger of letting your turtle roam around the compound is becoming aggressive and inflicting painful bites. When aggrieved, a turtle can give you a painful wound.

Children and other people in your household may be tempted to go and touch the turtle once they see it strolling in the yard.

And as we all know, turtles don’t like to be touched, especially by strangers. In their defense, they’ll hide under the shell, hiss, or bite if they feel agitated or insecure.

Since it’s hard to know the mood of your turtle, don’t risk letting it walk around your compound freely. It might end up biting you or one of your family members out of fear.

How to Provide a Turtle with the Right Habitat without letting it Roam around Your Compound

Did you know that you can provide your pet turtle with ample walking space without letting tit loiter in your yard or garden? You can keep your turtle happy, safe, and healthy by providing a well illuminated, heated, and stimulated enclosed habitat.

You can put them in an aquarium or tank with at least 55 gallons of water. You should divide the aquarium into two. The first area should have water for swimming, and the other part should have a dry spot where the pet can bask and rest.

If you have an expansive space, you can create a large pond with an indoor swimming area and outdoor space. It allows the turtle to enjoy natural sunlight during the day and stay protected on the other end.

If you use a smaller tank or aquarium, make sure that it has a UVB light source since turtles need up to 12 hours of such light. Ensure that temperatures remain at 95°F on the dry end and 75°F on the aquatic end.

It’s also crucial that you integrate various elements such as rocks, logs, dry matter, and dry leaves. More importantly, ensure that your pet has access to fresh, clean food and water.

If you don’t want to risk your life and that of your loved ones by letting your turtle walk around the compound, create a habitat that provides all the conditions available in a natural environment.

How to Stimulate Your Turtle

Creating a captive environment that resembles the turtle’s natural habitat is a good idea. However, how do you ensure that your turtle doesn’t get bored and keeps its mind stimulated?

Adding an appropriate substrate is one of the best ways to offer your pet some mental stimulation. While substrates make it hard to clean the tank, they make the turtle’s environment more enjoyable.

Introduce gravel and rocks, but ensure that they are large enough so that the turtles don’t try to ingest them. You can also add aquarium gems, shells, and fake plants.

You can add floating logs and natural branches to provide hiding spots and fantastic climbing areas. 


Keeping a pet turtle means taking care of all its needs, from food and safety to health and entertainment.

However, to provide your pet with the best care, you must learn more about their unique needs so that you can come up with a comprehensive plan.

While health, diet, and security are some of the most talked-about issues about domesticated turtles, providing them with an area to walk is essential. It acts as a form of exercise and also helps stimulate the reptile’s mind.

The point of contention is how to provide pet turtles with ample walking space. Some pet owners prefer letting the turtles roam around the compound, while others create an enclosed environment that offers walking areas.

Whether you’re for or against letting turtles walk around your homestead, the most crucial aspect is to make sure that you plan and ensure that you’re always around when these reptiles are enjoying a stroll in your compound.

Still, you need to understand in detail the dangers of allowing turtles to walk around your compound.

But since there are ample options to keep your pet turtle entertained, occupied, and exercised, you better go with the option that won’t jeopardize the safety of your family.

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