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What if I find a...

Can I Take a Wild Turtle for a Pet?

That's simple, NO!
A wild painted turtle basking the afternoon away.

...and here's why.

Many turtles are protected and taking them from the wild is ILLEGAL. Wild turtles need to stay wild.

They are terribly afraid of people, usually dying from stress in a fraction of their normal lifespan.

Wild turtles may be carrying parasites (like tapeworm and roundworm) and other sicknesses (like salmonella). These are not harmful to the turtle in the wild, but in a closed system like a aquarium can become serious (to turtle and owner alike).

A large mother snapping turtle heading home after laying eggs.
Wild turtles are a part of the natural eco-system and removing them can put stress on the environment. Snapping turtles are known for eating dead and sick fish and wildlife that would otherwise compromise the health of a pond or lake. Painted turtles skim algae from the water's surface, keeping outbreaks in check. All adult turtles eat more vegetation than animal matter, keeping weeds from choking up lakes and ponds. All these things and more represent the part that turtles play in a water body's ecology.

Wild turtles are always going to be wild; they will never make good pets. Do not expect that turtle to get used to you or its narrow confines. For a turtle born free, no matter how large the aquarium tank, it is not a lake and all its tributaries. When you had the whole wide world a rectangular glass box is a prison cell.

Taking a wild turtle decreases the number of breeding turtles in a lake or river. As far as that pond, which you took the turtle from, and its turtle population, it is dead. Essentially, you are not allowing this turtle to make more turtles. That cute turtle you took from the lake carries with it the futures of dozens of unborn turtles. It is important to keep wild turtle populations healthy (and numerous), this is how the eastern box turtle was wiped out in New Hampshire.

When space is limited, basking turtles get cozy!
If you want a turtle for a pet, leave the wild ones alone. Do a lot of research. Pet turtles are not easy or cheap to keep properly. Consider adopting a turtle first before even buying one. We have plenty here for adoption, and if you don't see any, ASK. Contact any animal rescue agency. Pet turtles outlive people's interests and abilities to keep so often that most agencies will be able to help you or contact you when one comes through their front doors.

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