Got Nature? Blog
People have been catching wild turtles and selling them as pets, leading to many species becoming endangered. This is very dangerous for the health and survival of the turtle as well as being highly illegal in Indiana. We highly discourage you from taking turtles from their natural habitat and turning them into pets (or any animal for that matter). Here’s a list of reasons why it is not good to make a pet out of a wild turtle and what you can do if you see any turtle miss handling and turtle wrong doing.
Turtles DO NOT make good pets!
Reasons why turtles aren’t good pets:
- Turtles require time and money for proper care, and some species can live up to 50 years.
- Pet turtles do not like to be held and are loners; therefore, they can become boring pets for children.
- Turtles are cold-blooded and need a source of heat. They also require an ultraviolet light for proper growth and health.
- Without this special light, many health issues arise such as metabolic bone disease.
- It is very important to know what kind of species you want and the care it needs before you acquire a pet turtle. Many need special food and tanks.
- Each species has different feeding requirements, with some being strictly carnivores or herbivores. Map turtles, for example, have restricted diets that must include snails, aquatic insects and crayfish. Some species of aquatic turtles, such as the red-eared slider, map turtle and soft-shell, grow up to 12 inches long, requiring a large tank for swimming and basking.
- Land turtles need a large pen, with sufficient substrate, properly sized water bowl, a hide area, as well as heat. Some require more humidity than others.
- If you no longer want your pet turtle, you cannot release into the wild because it is not likely to survive.
- It will have to find its own food, deal with the elements and deal with predators.
- These once-captive turtles are also likely to transmit diseases to wild turtle populations.
- Turtles can carry salmonella bacteria.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that children, pregnant women, and persons with compromised immune systems avoid contact with reptiles to avoid getting Salmonella.
- The DNR does not encourage the keeping of turtles as pets, but does allow it if the turtle species is obtained legally with a hunting or fishing license.
It is illegal to sell wild turtles
Many native, wild-caught turtles are still sold as pets, even though this practice is illegal in Indiana. The collection of wild turtles has caused many species to become endangered, especially when combined with habitat loss, water pollution and predators. Predators such as raccoons eat a large number of turtle eggs each year, and some species do not even breed until they are several years old, meaning that it can take many years for a population to become established. You can help protect Indiana’s turtles by helping to preserve turtle habitat, especially wetlands, through local conservation organizations or the Indiana Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.
Help our endangered turtle species and report any wrong handling, contact DNR Customer Service Center.
For the full article, see Turtles As Pets, Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Turtles of Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Reptile and Amphibian Regulations, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Eastern Box Turtle Information, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)