How To Potty Train A Turtle?

How To Potty Train A Turtle
Written by Mehwish Imtiaz

Potty training any pet is one of the most essential things that determines a good pet owner relationship. Who would like to step on their pet’s droppings when they enter the house. Also, it can cause significant accidents by slipping.

A turtle, if it roams freely in the house (and not potty trained), can poo everywhere! On the one hand, this behavior looks nasty, and on the other can be very unhygienic. Reptiles harbor a lot of harmful bacterias and other microbes that are harmful to humans, especially Salmonella. They are not only on their skin but also in their secretions and droppings. Therefore, it is indispensable to potty train your turtle.

Now, the question arises can you really potty train a turtle? If yes, then to how much extent and how you do it. So, without any further delay, let us start the topic straight.

Well, well, now that is some hot topic on the internet. Can turtles be trained for anything? Are they intelligent enough to understand and follow their owners? And most importantly, can they be potty trained?

When it comes to the intelligence of the turtles as pets, we already had a comprehensive discussion on that. All points proving turtles are intelligent in their own way, and yeah, they can be trained for multiple things (though it is not that easy as for dogs and cats). You may like to give Are Turtles Smart? A quick read before going any further.

So, when it comes to potty training a turtle,

Yes, you can potty train a turtle. However, the task is not as easy as for dogs and cats. You need to train your turtle to alter its natural habit according to your instruction. All this needs some time and persistence.

Training a turtle needs your persistent behavior and an award that motivates it to follow you. Turtles learn from their experience and store it in their memory. So, if they learn that something is good for them or necessary for their survival, they will follow it. This is the only way you can train any turtle for something.

However, you cannot do it using the traditional training methods for other pets. To train a turtle for anything, you better need to understand its nature first and then act accordingly.

Let us discuss in the latter sections that how you can potty train a turtle.

How Do You Potty Train A Turtle?

For training a turtle, you need to understand that they cannot learn something new that easily. It is very difficult to teach a tortoise or a turtle something unnatural.

While, in the case of potty training, it is like the same natural behavior but in a more organized way. If you want your turtle to obey you, you need to develop the worth of the task. Turtles are usually very lazy to invest their efforts in something(unlike the fact that they are too dumb to understand it).

So, as a good owner, you need to make sure that your turtle understands that this task worths its effort and time. Moreover, this task is essential enough to drain their energies.

For this, you need to understand your turtle’s behavior and learn its routines. Then you can work in its own way and motivate it to mend its habits.

The best thing in any kind of turtle training is positive reinforcement. Make your turtle believe that it will get a delicious treat whenever it behaves like your command. All turtles are food beggars. You can easily use this weakness of your little friend for your benefit..

However, do not go overboard in giving treats. Learn about the diet of a turtle and always manage up the treats with regular meals. If your turtle is obese or is suffering from any other metabolic diseases, treats will do more harm than good. Therefore, you better be cautious.

Patience Is The Key To Potty Training A Turtle:

Training a turtle is not a task that can be accomplished in days. At the same time, the progress of the process varies a lot from turtle to turtle and depends on the type of species, age, weight, and health. However, it would be best if you were patient and persistent in your efforts for weeks and even months.

Turtles are very long-living creatures, and you cannot force anything on this calm being. Moreover, they would never act well if you start getting impatient or harsh.

Please understand that turtles are isolation-loving animals, and they do not act to please you most of the time. However, if you are good enough in your efforts, they will be happy working according to your wishes to get their favorite snack.

Potty training a turtle can be laborious and sometimes very frustrating. However, learn to control your nerves and not express any anger in front of your little peace-loving friend. Otherwise, this will generate a defensive response in your pet every time at your sight. And this will be worse than your imagination, even worst for your relationship with your pet.

So, be patient with your turtle and impact its behaviors positively. Let your pet learn things at its own pace. And be ready to be persistent in your efforts for weeks, months, or even years. Teach it to use a single spot for potty, a litter box, or whatever and however, you like. Obviously, your turtle is going to live with you for multiple decades, and all this effort worths it!

Steps To Consider In Potty Training A Turtle:

Following are the most intelligent things you may follow to potty train your turtle. If you follow them precisely, I guarantee you the results

Follow The Schedule!

The best advice I can give you when it comes to potty training your turtle is following your turtle’s schedule. It is well said that “to train a turtle, you need to become one.” Well, it is not like you need to have a heavy mountain on your back. But it is more like you need to understand that how they like things to be.

 Turtles follow a schedule. You will not be wrong when you say that turtles are the most scheduled organisms you ever saw. Yes, they are the beings of habit. They tend to repeat their activity every other day. Like if they have the habit of eating at 12 in the noon, they will be asking for food or come to their feeding spot at the same time.

So, as an intelligent turtle owner, you need to understand and note these patterns and play intelligently with them.

So, like all the other schedules and habits, potty breaks in the life of a turtle are also scheduled. Nearly all the turtles have a specific timing and a way to relieve themselves. Some do it in water and some right after having their meal.

Whatever the bathroom habit is, figure it out and use your intellect to play with it in your court.

Adapt To Its Needs

Now, once you know all about the bathroom habits of your turtle, you may start making changes to it. Make changes gradually to suit your routines. But none of these changes should be abrupt or stress your turtle.

For example, you may start changing the feeding patterns. However, you are not supposed to shift them to hours. Or if you used to feed your turtle in the morning and start feeding it in the noon or evening, it will generate unnecessary stress.

Start by shifting to half an hour. When your turtle adapts to that, you may make further changes—Howeve, whichever changes you make, always notice the behaviors of your turtle carefully. Do not make things too intense to stress your pet. If you see anything is affecting your turtle in the wrong way, stop it right away and switch back to calm it.

Consider Timings

As discussed earlier, turtles are the being of schedule, and once you understand it and know how to use it for your benefit, you are half way to th success.

Know how long it takes for your pet to eat, digest and poop. Once you know it, you may, then, start making changes slowly to the things according to your preference.

All this can be a lengthy process that asks for your continued patience and perseverance. If your turtle poop inside water, you may correlate its bathing and feeding time. Doing this can stimulate the bowels and helps them defecate earlier.

Or, if your turtle has the habit of defecating a half an hour after a good meal, you may try taking it outside or to its potty spot after 25 minutes and then wait, for example.

The Potty Spot

Once you are set with the schedules, you can now work on the potty spot. You can work on teaching your turtle to poo in a specific area. However, you cannot changes the potty surface to an utterly unnatural one, for example, in a litter box.

To change the potty area of your tortoise, you first need to familiarize it with a new surface. For example, if your turtle poops after a meal, you may try serving meals on the surface you want to shift to.

Well, it may seem gross, but it is entirely normal for turtles to poop in the same area where they eat, and also, it does not make them ill.

So, you may start off by placing the food bowl on the new surface. Once your turtle is acclimated to it, you may then shift the new surface to the potty area.

This is a very successful technique in potty training a turtle. After just a few weeks of effort, you will see that your turtle started moving to the potty spot after feeding.

Hurrah, your little friend, is successfully potty trained!

However, note that when you are moving the surface to the potty spot, you need to do it very slowly… about an inch at a time. Doing this will make things constant for your turtle. Please note that a sudden change aggravates stress in turtles, and they will never obey you in this case. So, avoid being abrupt.

Many Turtles Poop In The Water

Many turtles like to go in the water to relieve themselves. Well, I consider this habit as a pre-potty trained turtle, and you do not have to worry much about potty training. However, that affects the water stores in the tank, and your turtle will always be in contact with the droppings whenever it soaks inside to take a bath.

So, you may try to change dishes at the time of soaking. If your turtle soaks in the water after feeding, you may note the schedule and change the dishes when it gets free.

If your turtle poop whenever it dives into the water, you may make it poop in one dish and then put it in a new bowl of fresh water. You may also try using warm water to encourage it to poo easily.

 If you are persistent in this behavior, your pet will start expecting a change in environment when it gets free. It may also soak in the water designed for defecating if it is reasonably different from that used for bathing. After pooping, it will start moving to the soaking dish itself.

Try Outside For Potty Time

Some turtles are clean freaks and do not like to mess their living space. So, these turtles poop a lot away from the place they usually live.

For these turtles, you may try taking them outside to the place that is comfortable for them. You may take them to the potty on dirt, grass, rocks, etc., in your yard or park.

If your turtle is not defecating in its carrier, try taking it outside and see the change. In many cases, this tip works.

If you see your turtle moves to a specific place in your yard to poo, you need to take care of the environment even if you change the older one. Notice all the preferences of your turtle to make this stanch being work according to your desire.

Moreover, physical activity also plays a significant role in defecation time. Moving in the yard stimulates the bowels a lot. So, your turtle usually gets comfortable relieving outside.

For many turtles, moving them outdoor at the time they want to relieve themselves is a good idea. And if it works for your turtle, too, congratulations, you have a pre-potty trained turtle at your house.


From all the above discussion, you must have noticed that turtles are pretty resilient to any change. However, you can still train them for multiple things. The best idea is to note their behaviors and use the same to mold them according to your preference.

Moreover, by noting your turtle’s potty routine and behaviors, you can now better understand your turtle. If there are any unexpected changes, you may relate them to some kind of stress, illness, or injury. So, training your turtle for potty is best for both of you!

I hope this article helped you find answers to all of your questions. For any further queries, you may drop down the comment or contact us. We would be happy to help.