The Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum

For a truly odd and sometimes wonderful Singapore experience, you might want to visit the Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum.

Before you even step inside, three things let you know that this is no ordinary museum: (1) it is located next to a prawn-catching pool and go-kart arena, (2) the entrance appears to be in a modified trailer of some sort, and (3) the organization uses “live” to describe its turtle collection (I despair to think of the alternative). It would be more aptly named an animal park or a tiny zoo, because it is literally crawling with reptiles.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. When you enter, you first have the opportunity to tour a room packed from floor to ceiling with turtle figurines:

If you like model turtles, you could spend a long time here.

The big attraction, though — and the reason that there’s a line of children waiting to get in on Saturday mornings — are the turtles themselves. These can be roughly divided into three categories: pond turtles, which you can feed with tiny pellets …

… tortoises, which you can feed with lettuce …

… and long beans …

… and turtles in tanks, which you cannot feed at all.

Mississippi Map Turtle

You can pet some of the turtles, too, though you can’t carry them …

… and you certainly can’t yell at them.

The place has a very what’s-going-on-here vibe…

… but I guess that can happen when a passion project grows almost beyond its bounds. This whole enterprise started out as a father-daughter turtle collection, and it has multiplied over the years. Indeed, it has blossomed into a full-on family business, with the third generation now joining their mom to run things. The collection is enormous, running to hundreds and hundreds of turtles.

This raises questions of overcrowding and space: the ponds are full and the tanks are small. The museum is looking to renovate — and hopefully expand — in the near future, which I have to imagine would be better for the animals. In the meantime, if you want to see turtles up close and don’t mind that they appear to be living cheek-by-jowl, this is a great place to do it.

There’s also pretty good signage if you want to learn about the turtles both in the tanks (here you’ll see a yellow-lined box turtle, a mata-mata turtle, a whole heap of red-eared sliders, an Asian soft shell turtle, and a pig nose flying turtle) …

… and in the rudimentary cement enclosures that house the tortoises (starting in the upper lefthand corner and moving clockwise, here you have some Burmese star tortoises, an African spurred tortoise, an Aldabra giant tortoise, and a mix of yellow- and red-footed tortoises):

But the real delight here is just watching the largest tortoises walk around, interact, snack, and enjoy the sun.

3 responses to “The Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum

  1. I love turtles. I’m on my way for a visit. I always had turtles as a child and even had some in my college room. (My roommates were not always delighted.) You can’t yell or carry them? Well, forget my visit.

  2. Pingback: The Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum — Traveler Tina – Ninnys Nest·

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