What are the largest turtle breeds?
Enthusiastic reptile owners often like to step up their game by relocating their indoor terrarium to an outdoor backyard enclosure. But as you can imagine, such a large space wouldn’t suit small turtle breeds like Spotted or Mud turtles.
In this article, we’ll recommend 4 of the largest types of turtles that you can nurture in your backyards. We’ll also share some info on the world’s biggest turtle breeds which don’t make very good pets!
Pet turtles do not tend to get as large as those out in the wild. As with many aquarium fish, the confined space prevents them from becoming growing as big as they could.
And not all large turtles can be kept as pets – at least not in a conventional manner. Some of them can be view in the wild or at a good aquarium.
For example, I once visited Sea Life in Brighton, one of the best aquariums in England. They have a number of large sea turtles that can be seen, some of which are quite rare and endangered, and some which have a vulnerable population status.
And while you can’t keep these turtles at home, there are some decent-sized turtles (or tortoises) that you can – let’s check them out.
1. Sulcata Tortoise
For our top pick, we couldn’t find anything better (or bigger!) than the Sulcatas.
Adults usually reach a size of 30 inches with an average weight of 100 pounds.
Surely, Sulcatas need an outdoor setup spacious enough for them to walk around. They also need a sturdy fence that’s at least 2 feet high.
The fence should also extend 1 foot into the ground since, like rabbits, Sulcatas can be skillful burrowers.
2. Pond Sliders
Instead of describing a certain species, people use the name ‘pond sliders’ to refer to the Cumberland and Red-Eared sliders.
Both species look quite similar, each having highly-domed green shells and yellow patterns spread all over the body.
Pond sliders typically grow to be 6 inches long. But they can also exceed 10 inches when provided with the right care.
Taking care of pond sliders isn’t that hard. You’ll only need to keep tabs on the water quality to make sure it lies within the optimal range.
3. African Sideneck Turtles
With a maximum size of 11 inches, the African Sideneck turtles will need at least a 75-gallon aquarium.
They can’t be placed inside an outdoor setup since they belong to the fully aquatic species.
Since their bodies are a bit larger than their shells, those turtles tuck their heads to the side instead of retracting them completely inside; and that’s the main reason behind their name.
Like most aquatic turtles, the Sidenecks usually freak out when handled and may make some strange turtle noises.
They’ll mostly tuck their head away, but they can also bite. And believe us, you don’t want to be bitten by one – their strong necks and jaws have a ton of pressure.
4. Eastern Box Turtles
The last breed on our list isn’t small, but it’s not huge either.
Typically, most of the Box turtles don’t grow bigger than 5 inches. However, the species found across the Eastern United States usually mature to 7 or 8 inches at max.
Just like pond sliders, the Eastern Box turtles can be your best bet if you’re still exploring the reptile world. You won’t have the hassle of frequent water changes because they’re not aquatic.
In other words, they’ll thrive in shallow water sitting beside a wide basking area, a bit like a good tortoise enclosure.
There’s an important thing to notice, though. Eastern Box turtles tend to be quite timid. If you’ll flood them with frequent handling, they’ll be more likely to retract into their shells whenever you approach.
Large Turtle Breed FAQs
What are the huge turtles called?
Many different breeds of large turtle are referred to as huge.
Some people may even be referring to a species of giant tortoise when they say huge.
Alternatively, most of the large turtle breeds on our list here can also be called huge turtles!
What is the largest species of land turtle?
The Alligator Snapping Turtle is the largest species of land turtle.
Their shell length can grow beyond 30 inches, and they can weigh over 230 pounds.
Look up the Brave Wilderness channel on YouTube to learn all about these fascinating (and somewhat frightening) creatures.
What is the largest freshwater turtle?
The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in the world.
It grows to 40-inches and weighs up to 220 pounds.
This turtle is basically extinct after efforts to breed one of the last known pairs failed.
The alligator snapping turtle is the largest breed in the USA.
How many types of sea turtles are there?
There are many large breeds of sea turtles, some of which we know very little about.
Different breeds include the Green Sea Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Leatherhead Sea Turtle, Hawksbill Sea Turtle, Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, and Flatback Sea Turtle.
Many of these big turtle breeds are listed as critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable. Sadly, many of them are hunted for meat, eggs, and parts.
If there’s one thing you should know about turtles, it’s the long-term commitment.
Most breeds live for up to 20 years.
It’s pretty common to find owners ditching their turtles beside a nearby pond or lake after 5 years or less. And as you might know, pets that grow in captivity will find it super hard to cope with the wilderness.
Make sure you know what you’re in for before getting your pet turtle!