Turtles & Tortoises

Releasing Turtles Into The Wild

Once a turtle is in captivity it should not be released back into the wild for the following reasons:

Releasing Turtles Into The Wild & Why You Should Not Do IT

Releasing Turtles Into The Wild & Spreading Of Diseases

The turtle can spread disease picked up in captivity to other turtles in the wild. Pathogens, viruses, and bacteria are not always presented in the form of a symptom. Even if the turtle looks, acts and feeds well it can still carry pathogens that will wipe out entire populations of wild turtles. Your turtle could be immune but be a carrier and therefore highly contagious to other turtles.

Turtles Diet Releasing Turtles Into The Wild

Wild turtles live in areas where the food will sustain their needs. If everyone who decided his or her turtle would be better off free, think again. If you release the turtle into an area that is already heavy with native turtles, you end up with a situation where they are all competing for a limited amount of food.

In most cases, pet turtles will not have to hunt or catch their food. They can find it in the aquarium. In some cases they may have to work a bit to catch the fish in their aquarium.

The wild turtles usually need to search for food and will eat vegetation in the majority of cases. Wild turtles eat very little meat and in small amounts. The majority of wild turtles obtain their protein by eating small insects, worms and snails. On rare occasions, they will also eat fish. To get these proteins, they must search, hunt and sometimes chase their prey. Rarely will they find a fish, or an insect on the ground waiting to be consumed.

A turtle who is used to getting its food with no effort will not adapt well to this new way of life. It’s not that they don’t try, but because they spent many years in captivity and didn’t have the opportunity to use their skills, so they lost them.

It may seem strange that a turtle’s hunting instincts are not innate. So, why does a wild baby turtle survive and if he or she is kept as a pet, why can’t he? Turtles, like other animals and humans, are born with certain instincts. If these instincts are not used right from the beginning, they will gradually disappear. Baby turtles also require less food. A baby turtle, for example, can survive an entire day on just one cricket. However, the same amount of food is only enough to last an adult turtle half a day. A baby turtle is given less time to learn how to survive compared to a pet turtle.

Releasing Turtles Into The Wild & Climate

Turtles should also never be released into the wild because of climate and adaptation. For instance, a non-hibernating turtle such as a Mexican Wood turtle or an African side-neck released in a cold climate like Tennessee, Maine, or anywhere there is potential for freezing weather will surely die. In addition, if your turtle was a pet and has relied on you for food, he may not be the strongest hunter and will slowly and painfully starve to death when he cannot find food easily.

Releasing Turtles Into The Wild Basking Problems Releasing Turtles Into The Wild Problems

Turtles must bask in order to stay healthy. Turtles in captivity have a basking space that has a UV and heat lamp to ensure that they get all the UV and heat that they need. To get the UV and heat that they need, a turtle only needs to walk or swim for a short distance. It isn’t difficult for them.

Wild turtles, on the other hand don’t get it so easy. In the wild, it is not easy to find good basking spots. A turtle will have to look for quite a bit to find one that is at least somewhat suitable. The majority of wild turtles won’t find a place as nice as that which pet turtles can enjoy. The basking spots are often overcrowded, and turtles may fight to gain a spot. Turtles tend to stack up when there are no basking spots available. This is done in order to get the UV and heat they need.

There is nothing better than the UV light the sun provides, but you never know if there are safe places to go.

It’s essential to their health, even if they can survive longer than they could without food. It will be difficult for a turtle to search for a spot to bask that is not as good as their previous one. As a result, the health of these turtles will slowly decline.

Releasing Turtles Into The Wild & Turtles Predators

A turtle in captivity doesn’t have predators.Turtles can be scared by humans they have never met or even other animals like cats or dogs. When they’re scared, they hide in the aquarium or retract into their shells. People and pets aren’t real predators. They could all hurt the turtle, but that is not usually the case.

Turtles that are kept as pets still have the instinct to defend. You can see this in the way they bite or hide when someone is holding them.

A pet turtle does not have to defend itself against snakes or raccoons. It can also be protected from crows and eagles. The majority of threats they defend against are harmless.

Wild turtles must always be alert, as predators can attack at any time. They won’t stop attacking just because they tried to bite. A predator will attack a turtle because it wants to eat it. The turtle must injure the attacker so that the predator backs off, or hide inside the shell to endure the attack. There are no other options to escape a situation such as this.

Wild turtles know how to hide in order for predators not to find them. Turtles will only become good at hiding if they spend lots of time in the wild, hiding from predators.

A turtle who has never faced a predator before is unlikely to survive a serious attack. Since they are unfamiliar with the area, and have no experience hiding from predators to avoid them, hiding is not the best choice.

How to Re-home a Turtle Properly Releasing Baby Turtles Into The Wild

Turtles can be a burden to some people, especially if they don’t have time or money for them. There are better and more humane ways to handle your turtle than releasing it into the wild.

Sell Your Turtle

Sell your turtle online to someone who will take good care of it. You can also sell some or all of the turtle’s equipment to this person. So, they’ll have all the equipment they need to care for the turtle. And the turtle will be in the best conditions.

Speak to a Zoo

Donations are welcome at some zoos. There will also be turtle experts who know how to take care of it, so that you do not have to worry. You could also go visit.

Take Them Back To The Pet Shop

Ask the store where you purchased your turtle about their return policy. Some stores will accept the turtle after a short period of time.

Speak to a Vet

Asking a veterinarian is another option. Some of them are aware of places where turtles can be taken care of. They can give you some suggestions on where to look.

Online Groups

Turtles are taken care of by many organizations, but they are primarily focused on wild turtles and not pets. You can get help if your turtle is having problems, but you cannot give it to them. They wouldn’t have any other options if they accepted all turtles. In some cases, they may help you get rid of your tortoise, but that’s not their usual practice. I wouldn’t recommend going to an organization which helps turtles if you are looking to give away your turtle.

In some cases release is necessary as it pertains to wildlife rehabilitation

A wildlife rehabber’s main goal is always to return their patients to the wild IF the animal occurs naturally in that particular area of the country. In the case of Florida Gopher tortoises, extreme care most be used to see that the tortoise NEVER comes into contact with any other species of turtles or tortoises while being held in captivity. They cannot even be put into a pen that another turtle or tortoise was in. You must wash your hands before and after you touch the tortoise.

Minimal Contact

Minimal contact with the tortoise will make for an easier transition as release time approaches. Keep all wild turtles and tortoises on a natural diet and avoid processed or canned foods. You want the turtle or tort to pick up where he left off once released.

Keeping Environment Sterile

You must keep their environment sterile at all times. This procedure requires consistency and attention to cleanliness and diet. A certified wildlife rehabber is qualified to do this, but not the general public. If an endemic species ends up in captivity, it’s wisest to turn it over to a wildlife rehabilitator who works closely with wildlife agencies and qualified veterinarians. Together they can assure the safe reintroduction of an endemic wild turtle or tortoise.

Releasing Turtles Into The Wild Summary


I hope I have helped you to understand the importance of finding homes for unwanted domestic turtles and the difference why it’s all right to release native species only after rehab, but never any turtles that have lived in your home, even for a brief period of time.

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