What is the Smallest Turtle in the World?

There are more than 356 species of turtle in thirteen different families. Amongst them, most species of turtles are tiny in size. Ever wonder, which is the smallest turtle in the world? People nowadays are searching for smaller turtles for many reasons. Little turtles are suitable for the captive, easy to maintain, and don’t require a lot of space.

If you want to know about the smallest variation of turtles, you will have arrived in the right place. In today’s write-up, we will let you know about the smallest species of the world, which is only four inches when fully grown. We will also introducesome of the suitable small turtle species for pets.

What is the Smallest Turtle in the World

What is the Smallest Turtle Species in the World?

The Speckled Padloper Tortoise is the tiniest turtle ever found on the planet. The adult male Speckled Padloper Tortoise can become only 3 inches in size when the adult females can become around 4 inches. The name “padloper” in the turtle name indicates to “trial walker.” It means the turtles habit in the trails of South Africa where the turtle is usually found. Namaqualand, South Africa, is the habitat of the turtle.

The turtles are usually most active during the morning. They are one of the most usual prey of the bird. However, the small turtle can easily survive by hiding and squeezing between cracks of the rocky trails. The speckles on the shells of the turtle also work as camouflage while hiding. Some researchers believe that the turtle is consist of two different species. However, several studies support that the turtles are not separate species.

Like most tortoises, the small species are also herbivores and eat flowers and leaves of different plants. One of the remarkable things about the turtle is its exceptional mating ritual. That is – the female and male turtles swing their heads before mating. Such behavior is not found in the other varieties of the turtle.

Some other Species of Small Turtles

The small species of the turtles are becoming more and more popular nowadays as a pet. That is because a lot of people believe that the tiny turtles are easier to maintain and care. They also require less space. A 40 to 50-gallon aquarium can be suitable for the small turtles. Here are some species of the turtle that stay tiny even when they become fully adult:

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Musk Turtle

Are you searching for a small turtle species to a pet? Then the Musk turtle can be an excellent choice for you. They are also known as Eastern Musk Turtle, Stinkpot, etc. The aquatic turtle species is usually found in Eastern North America. It is easy to maintain the turtle as they are small and don’t require a lot of care. The turtles may be little in size, but they can live up to 30 to 50 years.

An adult Musk Turtle size can vary around 3 to 5 inches. In fact, they are the smallest variation of the aquatic turtles. The species can arrive with a grey, black, or brown upper shell. The carapace is typically domed in the baby turtles, but it becomes flat as they get older. There are also unique yellow stripes in the turtle’s nose to neck.

One exciting stuff about the musk turtle is they spread a musky and foul odor if threatened. That is why the turtle is also called “stinkpot.” The turtle species is not a good swimmer but pass most of their time in the water. Besides, they are naturally nocturnal and stay more active during the night.

Mud Turtle

The mud turtle is another tiny aquatic turtle species that stays around 4 to 5 inches. They are commonly found in different states of the USA, Mexico, and Africa. The small turtles are usually adorable. However, that doesn’t mean that the turtle is going to be calm and friendly. They can even bite you with the curved beaks if they feel nervous or triggered. That is why it is not recommended to touch or pick the turtle with hand.

The mud turtles are usually suitable for older or experienced kids. One of the notable things about the turtle is they don’t bask. Such behavior makes the turtle different from the other species. They spend a lot of time walking or sitting at the bottom of the tank instead of basking. As the turtle love to walk and swim, you should keep it on bigger containers. 

The turtle species would love to burrow in mud during the hibernating period, which is why it is called mud turtle. However, the captive environment of the turtle shouldn’t include clay as hibernate is not recommended in captivity. The mud turtle can be an excellent lifetime companion of anyone as it can live around 50 to 60 years.

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Spotted Turtle

The spotted turtles are another small but attractive variations of the turtle. They are usually found in the Northeastern part of America and the southern parts of Canada. The cute outlook, small size, and friendly behavior make the turtle a great pet. However, they require more care than other small turtle varieties. If appropriately maintained, the spotted turtle can easily outlive its master, with around 100-year average lifespan.

The name of the species arrives from its yellow-spotted markings on its carapace. There is a small and low number of spots on the juveniles and little turtles. However, the numbers become higher in the mature turtles, which is around 100 or more. The size of the turtle can vary from four inches to six inches. It is better to offer an outdoor enclosure to the turtle for a healthy life.

The spotted turtles are usually curious, active, and alert. However, they can quickly become stressed if wrongly handled. It is better to leave the turtle alone apart from feeding and other maintenance. Also, it is recommended to wash the hands after touching the turtles. As the turtle is not a good swimmer, you will require a deep tank for them.

What is the Smallest Sea Turtle Species?

The Kemp’s Ridley is known for the smallest sea turtle species. They can grow around 30 inches on average when matured and weigh up to 100 pounds. They have a circular carapace with greenish-grey color. The turtles are usually found in the Gulf of Mexico. They typically prefer crabs, shellfish, jellyfish, and small sea fishes. They usually dive into deep water and the bottom of the sea to find food.

It requires around ten years for the female Kemp’s Ridley turtle to become sexually mature. They nest once in three years and may lay several clutches of eggs on every season. The turtle can travel hundreds of miles to find a suitable spot for nesting. Unfortunately, Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle‚Äôs conversation is declining, and they are listed as endangered. 


You should’ve already known that the Speckled Padloper Tortoise is the smallest turtle species from the above discussions. However, you may not find the rare turtle specie in the pet shops as they are illegal to hold captive and sale in most cases. You may consider the other mentioned other small species for petting.  


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