Chinese Softshell Turtle care

Chinese Softshell Turtle care – Ultimate Guide

Chinese softshell turtle,an amazing creature which is found mainly in rivers,canals,lakes, breeks with slow currents etc. But one can have Chinese Softshell Turtles as pets too. 

However, care of Chinese Softshell Turtles isn’t quite an easy task. Beginners should not keep them as they need much care and housing properly.

Chinese softshell turtles are very vulnerable and fragile, because they don’t have hard carapace or shell like other turtles. Chinese softshell turtles are native to China and Taiwan. But they are also found in North Vietnam, Korea, Japan and Russia. Chinese softshell turtles can be taken as food. A large numbers of softshell turtles are farmed in China.

However, care of Chinese Softshell Turtles should be known to farmers as well as those who want to keep them as pets. Today we will discuss Chinese Softshell Turtle care in brief. 

Basic information about Chinese Softshell Turtles.


Basic information about Chinese Softshell Turtles
  Chinese Softshell Turtle 
Scientific NamePelodiscus sinensis
Common nameChinese Softshell Turtle 
Adult size18-19 cm in carapace length 
Maximum SizeFor females 33 cm and for males 27cm in carapace length. 
Lifespan20-50 years
DietFish, insects, worms, crustaceans etc.
RangeChina, Taiwan, Russia, Korea, Japan etc.
Behavior Sometimes aggressive 
Clutch sizeDepends on body size
Legal to keep in USA
Extinction statusVulnerable 

Are Chinese  Softshell Turtles easy to take care of?

The answer is ‘No’. Because, Chinese Softshell Turtle needs much care when it is kept as a pet. As it lacks a hard shell like others, it can be hurt easily by anything surrounding it.

Sometimes they get aggressive and might do harm to people. Specially if there is any child in your house you should not keep these turtles as pets.

Are Chinese  Softshell Turtles easy to take care of

Moreover, these need a perfect environment, heat, light, foods, tanks and proper care. So if you are not expert in handling turtles, don’t keep them as pets.

How to take care of a Chinese Softshell Turtle? 

Chinese softshell turtles need much care while you want them as pets.

Who loves to have aquatic pets, Chinese softshell turtles can be one of the best options. They go to hibernate for a long time. Though sometimes they show aggressiveness but if you can manage them with proper care, they are enough to entertain you.

How to take care of a Chinese Softshell Turtle

So what one needs for the care of a Chinese softshell turtle? 

First of all, one needs a good space and setting up a tank for turtles. Then proper light, heat and food have to be supplied.

Description are stated below-

Set up a tank

Proper housing is the most important thing for Chinese softshell turtles. The size of the tank has to be large. Chinese softshell turtles are more active in nature than others and they are very good swimmers.

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So the tank should have enough space for their swimming. Tank has to contain at least 75 to 100 gallons of water. Water will be fresh and clean. As the species doesn’t have hard shells, they may get injured if any thorns or sharp things remain in the water.

Some filters should be used to avoid fungal and bacterial infections. Chinese softshell turtles have the habit of basking. So there has to be a spot for basking in the tank, one can place a wood or floating something for letting them bask.

These turtles need slightly acidic water (pH 6.5), one can add a small amount of aquarium salt that will help to prevent skin and shell problems.

Set up a tank Chinese Softshell Turtle

Moreover, some aquatic plants should be planted in the tank. One can keep turtles in a heated pond with clean water too.

The most important thing is that one should not keep two or more softshell turtles together unless the tank is excessively large and contains several hundreds gallons as softshell turtles are very aggressive and they are likely to fight with each other.

Even softshell turtles should not be kept with hard shell turtles due to their vulnerability and probability of getting injured.


Maintenance of water temperature is an important part for Chinese softshell turtle care. Water of the tanks needs to be in 78 °to 80° F. Temperature range 75 to 84° F is also suggested.

Water can be heated by a submersible heater or water heater for fish, water heater of reptiles etc.

Arrangement of proper light source

Chinese softshell turtles need basking. So make proper arrangements so that turtles can get sunlight or UVB radiation for at least 10-12 hours per day. UVB lamps can serve the purpose. UVB radiation or sunlight is important for vit D absorption and their bone growth. 

Arrangement of proper light source Chinese Softshell Turtle


Chinese softshell turtles love to bury themselves in sand and mud while living in the wild.Young softshell turtles do this frequently. So owner has to make a at least 2 inch aquarium – sand layer at the bottom of the tank or aquarium. Make sure that, the layer is free of gravel, thorns or anything that cause injury to turtles.


Chinese softshell turtles are mainly carnivorous. They mainly have fish, insect  crusticans, worms as food. Owner can provide turtles with bloodworm, chopped earthworms, mussels, lancetfish, crickets,  mealworms, fish etc.

Adult softshell turtles can be offered snails too. A feeding schedule has to be maintained. For the first 6 month feed the turtle enough , after 6 month switch to every other day feeding and after 1 year, give food only for twice a week.

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But the amounts of food and schedule may vary according to  their growth, appetite and activity.

Disease of Chinese softshell turtles 

Chinese softshell turtles may suffer from different kinds of diseases. Some of the most common diseases are- fungal infection, necrotic stomatitis, swollen neck disease, softened shell or swollen eyes, viral attacks and many more.

If you really want to keep these turtles as pets, you have to know about the diseases and first aid as much as possible. Enough care, adequate feeding, proper nutrition and clean water can prevent many diseases. 

Can you keep Chinese Softshell Turtles as a pet?

The answer is ‘yes’ for those who have experience in handling turtles and who are careful enough. Chinese softshell turtles need extra care and they are aggressive in nature. So inexperienced or children must avoid it as a pet. It may do harm to them.

Can you keep Chinese Softshell Turtles as a pet

What does a Chinese Softshell Turtle need in a tank?

This has been discussed before. Tank for Chinese Softshell Turtle have to be  arranged properly. Tank must have a basking area, perfect amount of clean water, perfect heat, a small amount of aquarium salt and substrate at the bottom. If anyone wish, can plant aquatic plants in the tank.

How to choose the best Chinese softshell turtle as a pet?

While buying a Chinese softshell turtle, notice its movement. Choose a turtle which is alert, moves quickly and doesn’t remain lethargic. Avoid turtles if they have any cuts or signs of injury in the shell.

Buy these turtles from a reputed breeding farm or reliable someone who can provide you all information about the turtle.

How to choose the best Chinese softshell turtle as a pet

Cautions for owners:

Chinese softshell turtles have clawed feet, powerful jaws and a long neck. Moreover it is aggressive in nature. So while handling, it can do harm to the person. So be careful while handling it. It is good for watching only.

Chinese softshell turtles carry different types of germs. Even Cholera bacteria can colonize in the outer surface of these turtles. So after taking care of these turtles wash your hands properly

Be aware about the health conditions of your turtles.


The Chinese softshell turtle is an amazing creature and it is entertaining as well.

But it is aggressive too. A full grown Chinese Softshell Turtle’s carapace which length rises up to 33 cm.

Most importantly it needs enough space and care to grow up and live in a healthy way. So if you can ensure all of these requirements mentioned in this Chinese Softshell Turtles care sheet, then keep them as pets. Otherwise you should not have them.

Chinese Softshell Turtle care

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