Marie is an aquarium aficionado and loves taking care of her turtles and frogs.
Can You Release a Turtle Into the Wild?
It all started in late October when my brother and his friend went to our local lake and witnessed newborn turtles popping up from the ground, heading for the lake's shore. My brother and his friend also took witness to the babies getting eaten by large bass waiting for them in the water. My brother's friend caught one before it could reach the shore, saving its life, and thought it would make an excellent pet. For his first week of life, my turtle was kept in a one-gallon milk jug in shallow water. My brother's friend kept throwing odd foods (like bread, of all things) into the water, but my turtle did not eat a thing (I wonder why...). Thinking it was probably going to die (the man didn't even own a tank), he decided to pass it along to his friend's sister (me) because I am an animal nut.
I had no clue about this animal when it was handed off to me. It was a unique turtle and I had planned to keep it for only a week before placing him back in his natural habitat. Well, during that time, the temperature outside dropped significantly and winter began. Releasing him into icy waters was not an option for me. Deciding to keep him through the winter and release him in the spring, I did my research, made lots of errors, learned my mistakes, and created the perfect habitat for my baby softshell turtle with all of his necessities. I knew everything I needed to know about him.
So why did I not release him once spring came? The little guy barely grew- I figured it was my fault because of the mistakes I had made and justified keeping him until midsummer so he wouldn't be such an easy appetizer for those merciless bass. He did grow a little bit more, but not as large as I had hoped. Even though I did not plan to keep him for another winter, I just couldn't let him go because I thought he was still too small and would be easy prey.
Now that he has reached four inches in width and summer is officially here, I plan to release my turtle back to his natural habitat for good.
What’s Wrong With Releasing a Pet Turtle Back Into the Wild?
But wait! There is apparently something controversial about my plan. Apparently, a lot of people think it is cruel to release a turtle back to the wild after being kept as a pet for so long. I'm pretty amazed that so many people feel this way, although I wonder how many people who make these claims actually know a great deal about reptiles. The majority of these objections come from forums like Yahoo Answers and YouTube comments- opinions I would not trust when it comes to scientific/veterinarian questions.
Let's get one thing out of the way. I completely agree that a store-bought turtle or a non-native turtle should not be released into the wild, even if the environment simulates his natural environment. Pet store turtles most likely carry diseases, which could affect native turtles and the entire ecosystem. Never release a turtle if it is not from the area; there is no exception to this.
My turtle, however, is native and he's still very young, yet I hear objections about people in the same situation as I am. I am going to address the opposition's claims and give my two cents about them.
What Happens When You Take a Turtle Out of the Wild?
Your Turtle Might Spread Diseases
Your turtle could give other turtles diseases they normally would not have contracted in the wild.
This would make sense if we were talking about a store-bought turtle or a turtle that was kept in really poor living conditions. Why did I include store-bought turtles? Because there is a risk of a pet turtle getting a disease from another pet turtle, but this can only happen if my turtle has come in contact with others, and it has not. It has lived a solitary life so far and has been kept in a clean habitat. This leads me to the next dilemma.
Your Turtle Could Get Sick
Your turtle's immune system is down because it has not been exposed to common bacteria found in the wild. He is prone to get sick and possibly die.
I agree with this to a degree. In order to have a low immune system, my turtle would have to be unhealthy, and I can safely say that is not the case. My turtle should have a very good immune system according to his behavior, his physical appearance, and the nutrition I have been giving him. I do understand what this claim is saying, though. I clean my aquarium frequently, so my turtle is not exposed to as much bacteria as a wild turtle. There's still bacteria in aquarium water, but not nearly at the same level as lake or pond water.
How I Am Resolving This Problem
I am slowly exposing my turtle to this lake water every four days. Visiting his birthplace and getting scoop-fulls of water, I am gradually subtracting his regular water and adding the water of his future home simultaneously. I will keep adding until it is nothing but lake water while observing his behavior closely for any changes. It's already well over half of his water and there have been no changes in his behavior at all. I'm sure I'm going through all this trouble for nothing and if I had just taken him from the aquarium water to lake water, he would have been okay. But I would rather play it safe and get him used to the water beforehand.
Is It True That Domestic Turtles Can’t Survive in the Wild?
You have a domestic turtle now and he won't last long in the wild. He won't know how to evade predators, search for other means of food, and survive the winter because he has spent his life in a glass box.
Read More From Pethelpful
I completely disagree with this claim. Turtles (and reptiles for that matter) are not like owls, bears, and cats. Turtles are not taught to hunt or evade. Their mothers are long gone before they bust out of their eggs and they are all on their own. That is the neat thing about reptiles, their survival is based solely on inborn instincts.
The phrase "domestic turtle" sounds funny to me because I've never felt that way about owned turtles, but this all depends on a person's definition of the word "domestic" (and yes, there are different definitions or different ideas of what this word means for animals). Sure, a turtle can beg for food, can even follow people on land for food, but does that make it domesticated? It lives in a human-controlled environment, but is that going to take away a turtle's instincts? As far as I'm concerned, all turtles are wild, and while most get to live in their natural environment, some are placed in a simulated environment (if lucky) and they simply recognize when food is available. Adult turtle brains are not that different than baby turtle brains, except as adults they become predators while babies are usually prey. So babies need to be able to bury themselves instantly (for softshells), and I'm happy to say my turtle is an expert on that.
My turtle does not fear me when he's in his aquarium or outdoor pool, but when I go to grab him, he acts like I'm about to eat him. Unless I have food, he stays away from me and that's the way it should be. Turtles don't know what the human being is; all they know is if this recognizable giant shows up in front of the glass, half the time these pellets magically appear. And this is only in his aquarium; I can't get him to trust me at any other location with pellets.
For two weeks now I have stopped feeding him pellets, preparing him (if it's really necessary) for the wild. He has guppies and ghost shrimp as prey. If he's hungry enough, he will catch them and eat them. For the sake of a varied diet, I will occasionally throw in a bug, an algae chip (which is good because the lake has plenty of algae to eat) and frozen dead blood worms that thaw out by the time he gets to them. I was concerned to find out the lake does not have guppies, but I'm sure there are tons of other little aquatic animals he'd be able to catch between rocks and under the dirt/sand. I imagine most of his food will be from scavenging for dead things rather than catching live prey- they do a lot of that when they get older, and it's evident those turtles are surviving on something out there, so I'm not worried.
I don't think people give turtles much credit. I find it amazing any of them survive at all after birth. Once the lucky few reach a certain size, they become the predators and they can live very long lives (much longer than a captive turtle, lifespan-wise).
I am very confident my turtle will do well in the wild. His arms have slimmed down a little since I've ended his pellet diet, but that's because he's been more active in his aquarium now, searching for food rather than waiting for me to appear. He's still eating and acting healthy, and on his last day, I plan to give him some pellets just to hold him out for a while in the wild.
I love my turtle and I know this is the right thing to do for him. It's really hard because I have put so much effort into ensuring his safety and health. But I can't keep him forever; I hadn't planned to. There will always be a what-if to his whereabouts and I will sometimes wonder if I did do the right thing. What comforts me is knowing that without my brother's friend, he would have lived to be 10 seconds old like the rest of his siblings. If it wasn't for me, he would have died three to four months later in that milk jug. Most turtles don't get to be one and a half years old; most of them don't even make it past their first winter. I've done everything I can and now it's time to say goodbye.
Remember, never release a turtle in the wild if it's from somewhere far away or it was bought. But if it is native, prepare it for the wild and let him or her go back to where they belong.
Destiny Bailey on August 19, 2020:
Im so happy i came across your article! I found an alligator snapper fishing in a canal that poured into the Potomac. Actually he literally swam right up to my boyfriend at the time. He was so tiny. HE fit in the small container that held the bait we bought earlier that day. We knew he was a snapper right away. He wasnt shy. To my dismay my boyfriend wanted to bring him home. I had no chance at winning that battle. We went to the pet store and spent a ton of money getting what they recommended. I didnt think he'd survive but i know as small as he was when we found him that he would have likely became a snack to something. That was over a year ago! Hes spoiled rotten and very protective of me. I never thought id see such a thing lol. He literally waits for me if i go outside and swims frantically back n forth until i come back in. Im the only one hes like that with though. If my kids father comes in and stands beside me Tubby ( his name ).....will get in Ninja Turtle mode and take on his battle stance. People cant believe it when they see it. Hes now huge! And im running out of room. I knew his finder would bail and leave me as his caretaker within a few days after finding him. I told him he owes me a ton of Turtle Support! They are not cheap! My main issue is he is getting more aggressive. And i know he would be better off back in the wild. But im scared since hes been with me so long. I have a huge tank and put it this way....a 60 gallon isnt nearly big enough for him. What would you do? Thanks so much! Any input or advice is greatly appreciated.
JesusCallsMeJoy on August 05, 2020:
Hi! I'm soooo glad for this article. Thank you! I found a baby Florida softshell turtle a couple months ago. He was behind my dad's truck and would've been crushed in the morning because he was so dry he wasn't moving. We think one of the many ducks in the area grabbed him from the canal in the back of the house and lost him in the grass behind the truck. He hasn't grown much but I have him in 6 inches of heated water (about 80° F) with a floating dock, marbles and some leafy greens to hide behind. Which he never does. He spends all, and I do mean ALL, his time lazing on the dock. The only time he swims is right after he eats. And then it's because he's trying to get on the dock (he keeps forgetting where the ramp is I guess). Is it normal for him do that? Stay on land all the time? When I had him in a small tub he was in the water all the time (so much so that I was worried he had drowned because he wouldn't come out). Please help! Am I doing something wrong? I know I should have sand for him but I don't know how to clean it and when I got sand for him he hated it. I plan on releasing him when he gets four inches like your turtle, either that or finding him a home where he'll be greatly cared for. Because I can't keep him forever. Please reply when you can... Your advice would be soooooo appreciated.
Oh, and he has a diet of defrosted bloodworms once or twice a week. No pellets because I want him to have only "natural" food since I'm releasing him. Thank you.
mariekbloch (author) on May 18, 2020:
I'm a believer in letting nature stay in nature. It takes money and time to ensure the turtle gets proper care. I'm not so sure it will get much bigger in just a few months. If you've grown an attachment to it, and as long as you can provide it everything it needs, it should be ok to do. Just know the longer you keep it, the harder it will be to let go.
Lauren on May 18, 2020:
I found a baby painted turtle in my yard during early spring. I believe he hatched the fall before and hibernated through the winter. Despite his age he is about the size of a quarter. I plan on keeping him for a couple months and releaseing him in late spring or early summer to give him time before winter. Is this a good plan? I want to keep him healthy and safe to let him get a little bigger. I have a swamp behind my house where I believe he came from, so can I release him there?
Rynncol on May 02, 2020:
Thank you for your two cents! Everything you talk about makes a lot of sense. You taking in this little guy seriously did add longevity to his life. It amazes me also how these little guys can find their way into adulthood on their own just popping out of an egg into a world full of predators. My son and I just found a little painted turtle no larger than a half dollar, this morning. He was in the middle of the road several yards from a pond which we had just seen a snapping turtle in. And we certainly didn’t want to guide him to that body of water. So instead he took him home, hoping to foster him till he got big enough to be on his own. Reading your blog has eased some of my concerns on releasing him back into his environment when he’s a bit bigger & his chances of survival are better.
Keely on March 23, 2020:
I'm so glad you have made this article because I have a baby box turtle that I found last year and I think it's depressed and I want to let it go and be free and be happy. I was very nervous about letting him go because I feared that he would die. And the other websites that objected not to just brought be confidence down lower. But you have some really good points and now that it's around spring time l, I will let him go soon. But first, just in case, I will introduce him to his habitat every day for 30 minutes to get used to the bacteria and stuff. I'm so glad that you have made this. Thanks
Myriam on March 11, 2020:
Hi! My turtle (red eared slider) is about to turn 4 years old (i've had her since a baby) is now a good time to release her? I feed her worms/crickets/shrimp sometimes I give her live fish so she can hunt. Please advice.
Ella Parker on February 24, 2020:
I have a mud turtle and I found him with leeches on his stomach when he was a baby. I have been really worried about releasing him into the wild but after reading this article I feel better about and I can not wait to release him once it gets warmer.
Tricia on February 15, 2020:
So happy for this article. I have a very similar situation. My child found a hatchling diamondback terrapin at our SC dock early last fall. He was tumbling in the surf and not looking great. Took him home and have kept him in an aquarium all winter. Also worried because he is not getting bigger. Won’t eat greens or really dried shrimp- just the pellets. Plan to release him This spring when it warms up. He has been fascinating to watch.
Texasjenn on September 23, 2019:
I am hoping someone will have some helpful suggestions to my turtle situation.
Here is my story. I live in South Houston. In April 2019, a Red Ear Slider found his (I researched & it's a boy at least a few years old) way into my under construction/unfinished pool. The pool had rain water in it & was about half full of non chlorinated water. At the time there wasn't any way for me to get him out. So I would put Romain lettuce in for him to eat. Over the next few months the pool began to fill with my more rain water & algae, even a few frogs & tadpoles from time to time. Essentially, the pool became a concrete pond. I continued to feed him (the right food) & build trust so I could eventually catch Mr. Turtle. The goal...to put him in the creek behind my house. Guessing that's where he originally came from. He began to come to me when I had food or motion for him. He even began to take the food from my fingers. He started to recognize my voice & swim to me when I would get close to the pool. Fast forward to the present. It's been almost 6 months. The pool company will be coming very soon to pump the pool & finish it. A week ago, Mr. Turtle let me pick him up. I took him to the creek. 5 days later I caught him on the sidewalk headed straight for the pool/concrete pond. Now he is back in the pool & he brought a friend. A baby turtle which I'm sure I'll never be able to catch.
I'm a firm believer Mr.Turtle needs to live in his own environment very similar to what he is living in now (my concrete pond). He has never been kept in doors or in a tank. Keeping him in tank or finding a new owner for someone's selfish pleasure isn't a option that would make me or probably Mr. Turtle very happy.
What are something's or steps I can do for him to want to stay at the creek? I have a little time to work with him, but not much. I don't want him to come back & get in fresh chlorinated water. Suggestions please. Thank you from South Houston & Mr. Turtle.
mariekbloch (author) on September 20, 2019:
I'd look up when snappers usually hibernate. If it seems too late, keep him during the winter and release him in thw wild in late spring.
Bruce Greene on September 17, 2019:
I found a alligator snapper in my garage just as the ground was freezing last year. It was about the size of a half dollar so must have recently hatched. We live at least half mile away from nearest body of water and ice was forming on the lake. Took Tony in and have had since. This spring Tony had grown by a factor of 10 andi had to build a special tank for. It's 4' X 5' and 4' high. It's outside and Tony seems to be doing very well. I was thinking of releasing but my wife said that it's gotten too late in Year.wondering your opinion and if needed how should one prepare for hibernation. I live central Wisconsin and want best chance for Tony's success in the world. He is my buddy but is getting a little more ornery. I will appreciate any insights on this topic. Thanks
Trent on August 31, 2019:
My turtle is getting too big to hold in his aquarium. I have had him since a hatchling and am thinking about releasing him soon. Great post, put things into a better perspective for me. When my snake escaped his enclosure I found him months later, still living, just outside of my house. Reptiles are incredible creatures.
mariekbloch (author) on August 28, 2019:
Dave on August 19, 2019:
I agree with your observations and conclusions. Very well thought out.
Turtlem on June 11, 2019:
So in short what they NEED , WHERE THEY CAN GO PLACES TO LET THEM GO.
My 7 year old turtles loving momma on June 11, 2019:
My turtle wants to be free
Jodi on May 12, 2019:
I was given a wild red ear slider hatchling a few days ago. He’s quarter size. We want to release him back where he belongs, but I’m not positive on the exact location in which they picked him up from. We do have a large lake near by. Can we release him there?
mariekbloch (author) on December 05, 2018:
Try a wildlife santuary.
Kelly on December 01, 2018:
I have a baby yellowbellied turtle, i found her at my job not to long ago she came in one of the boxes shipped here from florida. I wasn't sure what to do with her, but i also couldn't just leave her so i took her home bought a small tank with a heating lamp, a rock and some turtle food. I feed her almost everyday and change her water every week. I wanted to keep her but with my work i can't be responsible for her or care for right now. I live on long island, ny i was wondering if anyone had suggestions for if j should release her, and if yes where could i?
mariekbloch (author) on November 07, 2018:
20 gallon tall, then later a 20 gallon long.
Marilyn on November 03, 2018:
Im wondering what size tank you kept the little guy in? I recently rescued one myself
Seth D on September 27, 2018:
So reading comments got me worried base on the ecological issues they can cause, red ear sliders are highly invasive and out complete native species so a quick care guide, turtles need UVB for processing calcium and UVA to help with mood and appetite, murcery vapor bulbs have a year duration of strong uv output before needing to be replaced, they make heat, uvb and uva light which turtles are colorblind without, without uvb turtles will die slow painful deaths and being by a window don’t help. Glass blocks out uv rays. Rule of thumb 3x filtration, ie 40 gallon tank needs120 gallons of filtration, hiding spots for things like shrimp help keep the tank clean. Water heater are a must since most turtles need the water at 78f, I would advise having 2 lights that’s make uv, a fluorescent light that covers the length of the tank that makes uvb and a murcery vapor for the basking area and than a shaded area that gets no light, I turn my lights on when I wake up and off when I go to bed to simulate a day night cycle. Turtles are not so costly once you got a life long tank for the turtle ie 10 gallons per inch of shell, equipment and lighting, fluorescent uv bulbs unlike murcery vapor only last 6 months before they stop making uv light. The fluorescent bulbs for the covers made by zoo med and other company cost like 10-15 dollars depending on where you buy same product at Petco could be way cheaper on amazon and so forth. Without uv lighting turtles will die a slow painful death. Thier bones need uvb.
Seth D on September 27, 2018:
I still think the OP doesn’t fully comprehend immune system or how infection spreads, ie the whole my turtle healthy so he must have a good immune system, living in a sterile environment has weaken immune systems in several studies, live pray can even spread infection or illness, non native plants from stores or native plants from stores could carry contamination. I really don’t think it’s a good idea to release captive wild life back to the wild even if it’s native unless done in a professional matter. Example if you or me went to some undeveloped country we could cause a plague since their immune systems never came into the pathogens we carry at all times that are harmless to us and don’t make us sick. Meaning best to leave wild releases to the guys and gals in labcoats who can better manage it. To sum up my thoughts on the matter , Statistically new born turtles are very endangered and not many make it to adults. So I don’t think keeping a baby turtle who hatched In the wild to have much impact on the environment unless later released since all kinda pathogens non native can spread in a fish tank, a cycled tank mimics Mother Nature, good bacteria removing ammonia, nitrates and overall breaking up waste. Now toss in fish you bought at the pet/bait store and or native or non native plant species bought from stores or online and your talking more risk to make the turtle a carrier for something other native wildlife could get and die of, ie a bird, raccoon or other predator could than become a carrier or just fish the turtle came into near contact with which could than hurt the echo system. Overall Bad unless in a 100% controlled environment where you know what enters the tank on the microscopic level, another thing the op neglects is the poor conditions the turtle faced before being in her care those conditions/water quality could of made the turtle a carrier. I have a pet painted turtle and he doesn’t all ways beg for food sometime he be walking around the bottom of his tank than walk up to the glass and rub his beak against the glass. They truly are more intelligent than most give them credit their brain is similar to that of a bird, they are fascinating creatures that need to be protected however they are a life long commitment that could spread across countless generations
Liza on August 30, 2018:
Most people shouldn't keep a turtle as a pet!! Just reading the comments makes me very sad. Turtles are special creators must be taken care of very professional and only get a turtle if you do love and care about reptiles!!! They do have feelings they do recognize they're owner and like to get close to humans. Keep a cat or fish instead of a turtle less chance to kill them....
Kate Buchholz on June 18, 2018:
With all due respect, I find most of these comments very well-meaning but so upsetting.
For a start, there is SO much scientific and expert information out there to counter this, not just Yahoo answers. Please look much more deeply before making decisions!! I have included several links in this post to good information and forums.
The OP has done the right thing in many ways, mainly by planning to release the baby as soon as possible in it's original habitat and keeping things as natural as possible. But the OP is probably one of the few commentors who has a freshly wild turtle that is probably still disease free and able to adapt quickly back to the wild. And who has also been able to make the decision to put the turtles needs before hers and let it go quickly and soon while it is still so young.
Many of the commentors have obviously had their turtles for a long time, and come by them through dubious or pet-shop means. And i'm taking a guess but i'm assuming that so many commentors have turtles which are not local or native to the area they live in.
I 100% disapprove of releasing captive turtles back into the wild, and of taking wild turtles to 'look after' to release later. Whether they know how to survive in the wild is beside the point (though the chances are much lower). What IS important and factitious, is that the local wild turtles can die or be severely impacted from introduced disease, and because releasing turtles into non-native habitats can cause all sorts of issues including creating serious competition against native turtles. Some turtle species are so hardy they can become invasive species on release into foreign habitat...
Turtle babies are not orphans. Finding or catching a turtle and wanting to look after it for a year to 'help' is not about the turtles needs - turtles don't need us. They can be put over the fence, off the road, back in the water, or at the very least given to professional organisations. If it's about to be winter and you found a turtle, it STILL doesn't need you to look after it. It's literally programmed to deal with the cold and less food.
Captive raised turtles might still know how to survive, but they will still need to adapt, and this will be slow.You wouldn't release your pet bird, or put your cat on the side of the road and tell it to 'be free' after 8 years of regulated living. No zoos release their captive creatures, they simply aren't prepared for it.
If you are planning to release them into the wild they need to be raised with that as the goal - not raised as a pet and then suddenly set free years later.
It's also very important to note that your turtle can be healthy and not have an equipped immune system for the wild. When you travel and get sick from foreign food, the people from that country aren't constantly sick from the same food. Their immune system is more accustomed to those conditions.
You can't know if your turtle is actually healthy just because it looks normal. A turtle that was wild, but that you've had for several years isn't going to still have exactly the same bacteria and immune system as a wild turtle. That is totally illogical. It can still have developed diseases that can then be introduced.
Your turtle might have a skin disease or pathogen that you literally can't notice, which can then be passed on. Your turtle might also easily get sick from normal things that wild turtles are not affected by. This is a fact. It's just simply a scientific fact. Never assume your turtle has no disease or a wild-equipped immune system just because it looks like it does.
There are already cases of threatened populations being further threatened by diseases introduced from captive turtles being released, including inter-species disease transfer
If you have a pet turtle which has been captive for so long, and you want to release it or no longer can care for it, consider actually handing it over to other reptile owners, professionals or wildlife organisations for help FIRST. Releasing it should not be your first option.
If you have 'saved' a baby turtle, get it back into the wild ASAP, and stop coveting. If there are creatures eating the babies in the wild, consider focusing on that - help with conservation, or habitat improvement. Help with protecting wild populations from invasive fish or predator species.
Turtles use a strength-in-numbers approach to survive, with large numbers of eggs laid in the wild and only a small number making it to adulthood - that's their style.
So many posters clearly care deeply about their turtles, and that is great!!! Please consider putting that energy to helping the wild populations prosper rather than repopulating the wild with captive turtles. many wild populations are currently suffering huge issues from foxes/dogs, cars and habitat destruction.
I want to also emphasise that this is also a pet forum, not a wildlife or turtle-specific forum. If anyone plans to do some further reading and research please consider going to a forum that can give you more specific and expert advice.
Here is further information:
Please consider what i've said, and know that i don't intend to attack or rile anyone up :)
Melode on May 25, 2018:
Your post was very interesting and lots of information. I have a red neck slider that I have had for 8 years and I have raised him from a baby, also was wondering what will happen to her when I can't take care of him anymore, am 65 years old and I keep thinking if something happens to me where will she go, it's a lot of work and I really don't know if the person that gets him will take care of him as well as I have, I also was thinking of releasing him but was scared that he won't be able to fend for herself or something bigger then her would EAT her, so your info was very helpful to me incase I have to give her away someday, am hoping my grandchild will inherent her!
mariekbloch (author) on May 17, 2018:
Amie on May 17, 2018:
Thank you, I plan on releasing my rescue turtle in pond this weekend and questioned my decision. I know will do great.
Kelly on May 17, 2018:
Thank you, Julie! And to Andrea Wayne-
Your attempt to belittle that person with your verbal assault takes all credibility away from the point of your argument. That type of behavior will only cause those you are attempting to reach to shut down and disagree with your ideas because you're being extremely ugly about it.
mariekbloch (author) on March 01, 2018:
Angie, that sounds like a great idea, assuming the turtle won't harass the fish and vice versa. I don't have much experience putting fish and turtles together, but it sounds fine to me, as long as the turtle has no way of escaping the yard and there's a place or it to get out of the water and bask. Make sure there is shade in the water and out, so it can get out if the sun if it wants to.
Angie on February 28, 2018:
We have owned our RES for about 5 years. We recently started converting our inground pool to a pond with 6 thriving goldfish and cat tails. My question, would it hurt our turtle if we took him out to swim in it during the warm months? It would be for a couple of hrs then back in his inside tank? Thanks
Lucy on February 01, 2018:
My boyfriend works at a park operating heavy equipment and he inadvertently almost killed a turtle. As soon as he noticed that it was a turtle that was at the face of death by his machine's blade, he rescued it. He brought it home and washed it and gave him to me. I never knew anything about turtles until recently. Therefore, I was trying to feed it leaves, strawberries, carrot, even grapes. It would not eat and I became so worried and suspected that he was depressed here. So I started looking up info on my box turtle. I only had him for 2 days. I learned that its best for him to be in the wild and not captive, so my boyfriend and I went to a safe place to release him. We did not release him at the same park where we picked him up because 1. he could get killed by the machines used, 2. there are people who practice satanic rituals involving killing animals including turtles for their sacrifices, and I just could not allow that. 3. The park is full of predators. But now I read somewhere that if you don't release him at the same place he was taken from, he could start wondering off trying to get back home and may die in the process.... and that makes me soooooooo sad, like crying. This is a double edged sword situation. I guess I can only pray that God protects him along his way. I would go out to look for him, but its been 24 hours, I don't know where I would find him. *deep sigh*
Julie on January 23, 2018:
Andrea. Try reading before commenting. Most of what you claim is not what happened. Making mistakes and learning is not neglect but being a great guardian of your pet. Personal attacks and name calling show clearly that you have nothing worthwhile to say.
Marie on November 03, 2017:
When is the best time to release the turtles. Spring or Fall. I have 2 in exactly the same situation as yours. I had hoped to release them now, but am wondering if it's too cold.
dan on September 05, 2017:
what a lil cutie
Andrea Wayne on August 27, 2017:
Thank you "ANN" for the nightmares! So saaaad for me to feel the captivity of a sweet turtle for !twenty! years WITHOUT UVB rays or any heat at all! In the winter that sweet turtle dies into hibernation you write. Supposedly that's not cruel to you? You're a turtle abuser that has publicly exposed your private neglect. You should be arrested by the humane society - that's my view, you're a cruel pet owner, for sure! & with the cockiness to post that online, mark my words anyone that loves their baby or grown turtle would never be like you! I actually cried for the turtle in your house. I hate animal/reptile abusers, and you should experience bone degenerative disease from no UVB rays & be so coooold for twenty years .... you're a bitch! Go to hell.
Cheryl on June 14, 2017:
I'm going through same now. I love my turtle. But makes me so sad he always seems to want out. I really want to put him in pond down the road.
Grant on June 12, 2017:
This is exactly how the pros do it. You have done a very good job with the turtle(softshells are not easy). Anyway that's exactly what wildlife conservationists do, they grow the turtles out for two years and release them with a tag. You can read page after page of these turtles doing just fine 10+ years after captivity (they put a tracker on them)
Sinrick on June 05, 2017:
My boyfriend and I have a 7-year old female red-eared slider turtle, she died last night. If I have read this article before we bought my red red-eared slider, his tragic death could have been avoided. We prayed and beg for her forgiveness for being such a lousy owner. In this few months my boyfriend only change the water once a week(with a underwater filter). The temperature here at the Philippines is so high 86.0 °F. Her male red-eared slider companion is still alive and about 6 years old by now. Is it still worth if we keep the male one or do we need to set him free? I am very depressed and scared that the male slider might die too. :'(
Connor on May 29, 2017:
I caught a baby snapping turtle while camping and I have no idea where to let it go or what I should do after saving it from death
Kathy on May 19, 2017:
I have an 8yr old red ear slider. Hes a fatty. He was the size of a quarter when I got him or her. He has out grown his 32gallon container. I am having great difficulty emptying his container water and refilling the water. I look at him and I feel he needs to be out in nature. Now I am apprehensive due to the fact he might get sick or cause the other turtles to die. What can I do?
michelle on May 13, 2017:
I just read this article, and it has truly given me the courage to go release my turtle. We rescued our turtle from being ran over, and we just don't have the time for him anymore, and he doesn't deserve that treatment. We have always fed him minnows, gold fish, live worms from Petco, and dried shrimp. I believe he will be much more happy in the wild. We often go and visit the pond we plan on releasing him, and we see many of his species in the pond, so we believe he'll be happier there and live a good life. Our turtle is exactly 4 inches wide and knowing that's the appropriate age relieves me from my worries. Thank you for this article!!!
Rick on May 06, 2017:
You did the right things all the way around. I do this with all kinds of animals. Just had three baby Cardinals. Now have baby snapping turtle. Will be letting him go in a couple of weeks.
Kristy on April 18, 2017:
We've had our turtle since she was a baby and now we have decided to release her. She's outgrown her aquarium and also her home immediately attracts every fly big or small the minute we open the door. We keep her home clean, but I feel sorry for her being cooped up in that aquarium. I live in southern Mississippi and feel this is the best time to release her. I've also read things about the danger of letting them go, but u guys made me feel better. I plan to release her in the next neighborhood over that has lots of roaming land, less traffic, and a man made pond for her to do a few laps in. My daughter drew a big pink bow on her she'll and I'd hate to see her flat in the road heaven forbid she meets her maker. Wish her luck guys! She's a sweet turtle.
Mals on March 05, 2017:
I'm in the same boat at you. I found two fresh water turtles in my swimming pool last year after a hurricane and I've been thinking about the best way to release them. It just seems so unfair to think they might spend their whole long lives in captivity. When they were meant to be free. The problem for me is finding a safe pond free of gators for them which are pretty common in my area.
Sofia on February 27, 2017:
Good job. Very good artical and this was very useful to me. Thank you
Dee on January 28, 2017:
Thank you for this article. I found my little soft shell turtle because of my dog going crazy in the backyard barking. When I looked to see what he barking at, it was a soft shell trying to dig and hide in the dirt. I live about two blocks from a lake which led me to believe a bird dropped him in my yard. I took him in, cleaned him and had a little aquarium in my house to put him in. It's been about 6 months and we are ready to throw him back. this article was very very helpful.
ann on November 27, 2016:
Thank you for this post. I have a turtle that me husband and i brought home from the lake one day out while we were fishing. This was 20, yes 20 years ago. He has grown into a 55 gallon tank and now that I am having health issues, I am considering letting him go back into the same lake he came from. I am on well water so his water is always more natural. He has branches in his tank, along with natural algea. Crickets, worms and some pellets are also fed to him. During winter months, he dies go into a hybernatin and I have never had a heat rock nor lamp for him, so is used to colder water. He is a part of this family, but due to health issues, I am having to get rid of many of my clan. It is nice to read that I feel he will be okay. He came home smaller than the bottom of a solo cup and now you can't reach one hand across him.
Ines Krypton on October 08, 2016:
Hello! Thanks for your article!
3 years ago I was offered a turtle. I'm always sad to see her (in Portuguese turtles are female) in a small aquarium. I was wondering if it was a good thing to release her in a small lake in my city.
I'm glad I read your article because I had no idea bought turtles could carry diseases.
I'll give her to a friend of a friend who has more room, a much bigger aquarium with other turtles.
Fred D on September 23, 2016:
Wow , I have 2 turtles which I was thinking of letting go in a lake , and something told me that I may not be doing the right thing. I'm very happy that I read your tweet. Thank you my friend, thank you
akash on September 10, 2016:
wonderful ! well done ! Devine
Jessica on August 29, 2016:
I'm so relieved to find this post. I just released my babies this last weekend. I've had them both for about 8 years. The female longer than the male. Two different species, Western painted turtle female and Red-eared male. I have developed a relationship with my female painted turtle. She is smart and somewhat tame. She knows me, comes to me etc. I was not sure about letting her go. She's been getting pregnant for the last 2 or 3 summers. I've had to keep them in separate tanks for a while because of that. However, I just felt like it was time for them to be free and happy in the wild. The female was lost in my mom's manmade pond for 3 days and thrived a few years ago. When I released them, she stayed around near the shore of this beautiful non-fishing pond. She kept hanging out near me like she wasn't sure if she could really go. After 5 or so minutes of her swimming a little ways and coming back she finally took off with her mate. I think they will be very happy. I just get sad when I can't feed them in the mornings or evenings.
Deborah on August 19, 2016:
I found a baby redslider in my backyard. And I'm doing the same thing YOU are doing. Reading your post made me feel much better because I just wanted to ensure his survival a bit. I new if I walked him down to the lake he would be eaten by something. I have him in a tank I'm going to do the best I can to get him ready to return where he belongs, just needs to be bigger. Thank you for the info.
Cliff on August 05, 2016:
I had a RES for two years in a 75 gallon tank and a great filter system. He loved to bask under his hot heat lamp. He was scared to death of me though and would hiss and bite if I tried to pick him up. He ate lots of worms and fish and pellets. The problem was he got so big! The tank was not big enough. I found a local pond with many RES in it. I spoke to the vet and he said he would be fine if I set him free during the hot summer months. On the way to the pond, Shorty climbed out of his box! I got to the park and put him by the edge of the water and he swam right in. He was a tough guy and I hope he is happy in his huge new home.
Randy Yandel on July 22, 2016:
Yeah I just let my turtle go. He was literally like my son. I kept him in such good conditions. Fed him all kind of nutritious foods. From the day I found him in my front yard to the 3 different size tanks I bought him... my turtle Wilfred Fizzlebang knew what he was doing. He was healthy and grew perfectly. I kept him so well that he never tried to squirm or bite me. My girlfriend always made him feisty. I was hard to believe that I could have tamed a snapping turtle, but I know I did. Beside all opposite belief. It was so hard to let him go. I cried very much as I set him off in the creek in my backyard, but as said in the article the mother leaves and they are solo sentient beings. He hatched in my front yard garden... he was a great companion and kept me on my toes. anyways. Thanks for the article. It cheered me up.
kim on July 05, 2016:
Thank you for sharing your story and the great info. I have found myself in a very similar situation...with not 1, but 2 turtles. I only want to do what is best and set them free just as soon as I feel they have the best chance of not getting eaten. Although, I have grown quite fond of them (but, because I really care about them, I want what's best). They have more personality than I imagined and are so smart. :) I have also learned a lot from studying as much info as I can find on them in order to provide the best for them, then release them when the time is right. But, as you know when you wrote the article, most of the info says it's Not OK to release them and I was torn because of the very things you mentioned. They do have amazing instincts....that they are born with. They would have been prey and died instantly if I hadn't "saved" them. (although, I do understand that natures way is often not our way) I just couldn't bear to watch them die and not help. I should also mention that I know the importance of keeping the turtles isolated, as to not spread disease, and actually keep both of my turtles in two entirely separate homes with separate heat lamps and uv lighting (yes, it has been very expensive). Your article makes me feel so much better about releasing them when the time is right, so thank you!
Angie on June 04, 2016:
I had my terrapin as a present for 10 years, living in my house.
he became a member of the family and he new every single corner of my house . he use to follow us around the house and respond to our call and taping the floor. everybody new my funny friend. It has been
lots of work to keep him well , but 3 week ago he catch pneumonia and not matter what we did , the money that we spent to keep him in a clinic for 4 days and try to save him injecting him with medications and vitamins , 5 days ago died . I cried like a baby and I miss him so much.
Reading your story has been great . well done I am sure that you are doing the best thing . Good luck to your little friend , I wish him a good life.
karyann on May 26, 2016:
this article is JUST what I needed. i had decided this is just what I needed to do for my two boys (res) one I've had for a year is a healthy, thriving 4 1/2inches. I just love his personality.....altho he's in 55gal with a canister filter, HE NEEDS TO BE FREE. but, I was so afraid that I hampered their survival instincts. Then i realized 'they are reptiles'...but I was going back and forth with it. this article is perfect and truly with the well being of the animal in mind. the other boy I have, lol Otis is 3 1/2inches and I think ready to go too.....I've got them outside in a pond going on three nights. with the same plan in mind you had, except I was using rain water and local plants.....will get some lake water. and they should be ready in about 10days. the lake will be perfect by then. thank you
Chenelle on April 23, 2016:
I'm so glad I found this article when I did. A family friend had given my daughter a quarter sized Painted Turtle 4 years ago. For the life of me I can't remember where he said he got it from, since then we have grown out of contact, so I can't ask. I've been questioning for years whether or not to let him go in a near by pond, but fear of something happening to him always held me back, and the not knowing exactly where he came from. My daughter named him Master Oogway, from the movie Kung Fu Panda, and let me tell you, Master Oogway is definitely apart of the family lol. My cat is his best friend. As much as I love Master O, it kills me to see him swimming into the side of the tank. And I feel the tank we have isn't big enough for him to comfortably live, I believe it is a 50 gallon one. Deep down I always knew that once he got to be a good size that he would most likely be fine in the wild, but being a momma to that baby for 4 years is not letting me think clearly lol. I had all the same worries as every one of these other parents, will he know how to survive? Will the temperature change be to drastic and end up killing him? Will he know how to hunt and catch his food? But you reminded me that Yes, he can. I'm just being a silly over protective mom. Year 5 is approaching quickly and I want to do right by him. But your article did concern me with the if it was store bought, do not release into the wild. I want to say he wasn't...but I'm really not sure. So that's my dilemma. As of now it's still to chilly to release him, if that is indeed what is right, so alittle more research and thought till then. But thank you very much for sharing your story, It was a huge help and instilled confidence in many of your readers!! :-)
Dave on April 17, 2016:
Your article was very articulate and shared a lot of my sentiments as well.
rojas-reese on February 22, 2016:
Thank you very much for your insight. I have right now a turtle with almost the same type of story you told here. Everything you said, feel and though I have been going through. Yes, I do want to release her, because he should be able to enjoy his own environment. My turtle is very healthy, growing nicely. she will be 1 year old in April 2016. My husband found her around my yard next water a baby. I am going to follwo your suggestions though my heart is going to be broken. thank you. email@example.com
mariekbloch (author) on September 27, 2015:
Turtles will go into hibernation if the water is too cold. Have no idea what the temp of the water is, so I can't say. If you have the means to take care of him for another 4-5 months, I'd keep him until spring. Just be sure he's getting adequate space, good filtration, and a varied diet. Good luck.
Christinamariac on September 26, 2015:
I have a snapping turtle that I found my neighbors chewing on last year. He had to have just hatched because he was no bigger than the palm of my hand. I took him in and have been taking care of him ever since. Its been a little over a year now and he is just too big and too snappy for me to take care of anymore. I want to set him free but fear that he wont make it due to the cold weather setting in and winter just around the corner. I live in Taunton Ma and want to set him free at Massasoit state park where I always see other snappers striving. Should I wait till spring or do it now? Please help.
mariekbloch (author) on September 20, 2015:
I can tell you cared about your turtle. I made mistakes with my turtle too in the beginning. Glad you cared enough to not only pay to have a vet take care of her but to let her go as well and have her return to nature where she belongs.
Cheyenne on September 19, 2015:
My turtle got sick and I took her to the vet yesterday. They told me she was a wild turtle and illegal to have. I wasn't aware of this, maybe I should have been, but I was only 13-14 when she was given to me and never thought to research. I have researched over the past years, but never found in useful information that helped me make a decision. The only turtle vet was 2 hours away and my turtle never got sick so I never took her. The vet she went to is an hour away and just started seeing turtles recently. He made me feel horrible about keeping her. I honestly didn't know. I loved Ralph and always only wanted what was best for her. So I immediately turned her over to him to get better and then for him to release her. I donated money to her care and left hoping I had made the right decision and he wasn't lying about her being able to survive. I found this and now I feel better. I now release I should have done things differently for Ralph and if I could go back I would do things differently for her. I always wanted to protect and thought I was, but I was really just hurting her and keeping her from true happiness. I raised Ralph from a few weeks old for the past 6-7 years. As exhausting as it was I enjoyed knowing her. I gave her 6 years when she should have died at a few weeks and that's something I don't regret. I'm sad, but mostly relieved and happy for her. I never meant to seem selfish like that vet tried to make it seem. I wish I could have seen her be released, but to late now. Though I will never have a turtle again it was definitely a unique experience to have. I'm still in shock that nobody I talked to (rescues, vets, animal people) mentioned she was illegal and I should release her. Maybe Ralph will meet a guy and have some babies now. :-)
Deborah on July 11, 2015:
Hello. I am in the same boat as several people here. A custodian at the school where I work gave me a baby snapping turtle. Its shell was about the size of a quarter in late October, last year. Now, it is mid-July, and his shell is about 7 inches long. I am concerned that he will get hurt, but your ideas about gradually switching the water, and also giving him live food, are helpful. Time to let him go, because he seems to want to swim freely. So, concerned still, but it is the right thing to do, I think. Thank you for this post.
Ashley on June 21, 2015:
This article was amazing! Very helpful and insightful!
mariekbloch (author) on March 29, 2015:
Is your turtle even a carnivore? Many eat vegetation. Besides, young carnivorous turtles are scavengers rather than hunters, so I wouldn't worry about it. And I agree with you 100%. Good luck.
Olivia on March 25, 2015:
Thank you very much for all this insight and information. I too, am in a similar situation. 7 months ago (Sept) my turtle,' Soup', was found in a pool filter across the street from a pond the day after a deluge of rain. He was a tiny little hatchling, shell barely the size of a nickel - though not a soft-shell...just a generic little 'guy?' Research disclosed 90% mortality rate for hatchlings. So I took him in. He seems to be very healthy & now his shell is a strapping 4.5" x 3". Now that the temperature is stable & warming, I plan to release him in a pond near my home later this week (I'm in Clearwater, Florida.) He has shared his tank with 3 feeder fish now for 4 weeks & couldn't seem less interested in them as potential food. He actually freaked out when I first put them in the tank - they are tiny - & he acted terrified of them at first. This concerns me a little as far as his dietary survival goes. At any rate, if he makes it, he makes it...if he doesn't, I gave him a better shot at it than his odds as a hatchling. On his release day, I'm quite sure I will shed a tear or two. My little turtle..."Soup."
mariekbloch (author) on August 07, 2014:
nehinc on August 07, 2014:
Update for Hermie & Harry , they have a new 30 gallon tank , will let them grow for one more year , once they are big enough not to be swallowed in one bite they will be free birds !
mariekbloch (author) on August 06, 2014:
Mine was about 4 inches when I let him go, although I think three inches is big enough to release. It's when they're a quarter size that surviving is slim. Also mine was a soft shell, so this could also make a difference. It depends on what you know is in the water and how big its mouth is; be your own judge. Thanks for the comment.
Eastern Painted on August 05, 2014:
Hi. Your article was the first that didn't make me feel like a horrible person for rescuing a 1 inch eastern painted two months ago. I've also come to the decision that I want to release him when he's big enough. Right now he's almost three inches long. Do you think it's still too soon to start prepping him/her for freedom? I'm going to also take your lead in adjusting the water and providing varied foods. You're article was very helpful, Thank you!
Yaya on July 24, 2014:
On Saturday we will release our yellow bellied slider into the lake where he was born three years ago. He is big, now, and lonely. He is ready to bask on bigger rocks. Thank you for your article. Nice to know we're not the "only ones".
nehinc on June 21, 2014:
Have had Hermie and Harry for at least 3 years, will keep them until they are four to 5 inches, will get a bigger aquarium for the final leg of their stay here with us. They seem happy and they are spoiled, but freedom beckons soon, I know exactly where they came from so release is not an issue. I will transition using some of the tips from this article , so tank you :) The Johnson's
http://oi59.tinypic.com/rku451.jpg their home
wileycat66 on June 12, 2014:
Thank you so much for this article. I just rescued a really tiny turtle from my mother's yard. The marsh he came from was on its way to being bone dry pretty much. I thought I would put him back, then realized I had no idea where to put him. So I kept him, going to a pet store for advice. The guy there suggested I keep him for a couple of weeks until he gets a little bigger, but it sounds like I might be waiting a while for him to get big enough. So I am going to get him an aquarium tomorrow. I kill mosquitos for him and feed him baby turtle pellets. I bought conditioner for his water like the guy suggested.
I have been wondering if releasing him back into the wild will be too much of a shock to his system and so your ideas are great. I will do what you are doing just to be safe. Will release him somewhere nearby that has a good source of water in the woods. I have put plants from the marsh in his water and a rock for him to climb up on. He seems like he is doing really well. Thanks again! I would have let other things I read totally scare me. My mother thinks I am a little neurotic about the turtle and we have a good laugh about it.
Turtle Texas on May 23, 2014:
I was planning to release mine this summer? She is under 6 inches and still small in my eyes. So I have decided to keep her for another year just to make sure she is big enough to not be pray for birds.. I keep thinking if we could build a pond that would work..but its costly.
tb on May 14, 2014:
Im going through this right now i have 2 a res and box but its been a year i have been told to take to nature reserve but its miles away i feel confident since reading these blogs that they will be fine taking them back to the lake were i got them but im so sad because i raised them
mariekbloch (author) on April 08, 2014:
Obviously the bigger the turtle, the less likely it will be eaten by larger turtles and fish. But you have a point about alligators. If you're that concerned about the turtle's well being, is there an animal sanctuary you can take it to ensure it lives a long life? Or perhaps you can keep it for 10 years and then pass it down to a relative or close friend. I'd rather just let it go, but there's no need to come to a decision quickly. Take your time deciding on what you believe is best for the turtle.
I would let it go where you found it. Maybe one stream has dangerous animals in it and the next one doesn't. It may not matter at all, but that's what I would do.
Texas Tutle on April 07, 2014:
My Red ear slider was quarter size Feb 4th, 2013 she now is 5 inches long and ready to be released. I'm planning to add lake water starting next month into her tank..I was told to release once the temp is over 50 and I'm waiting for the temp to be much hotter before I take her back to the lake. I'm now also feeding her worms so she is use to the live food..
shannon on April 07, 2014:
I've enjoyed reading these post and feel better about releasing the baby wood turtle we rescued last October. My question we got him from a stream about an hour away from our house, we have similar streams around our house but I want to release her where she has her best chance of survival. Do you think we should take her back to where we found her? I love the part about the turtle knocking against the glass, it will be hard to let her go but her freedom will be worth it.
KC on April 06, 2014:
I also have a baby turtle. I think it is a Yellow Belly Slider. I rescued him/her from a busy 6 lane highway. I have no idea the source of water from where it came, and I don't think it would have survived the traffic. That was about two months ago, and its shell was only about an inch in diameter, now it has grown at least twice its size. It is still small though, and I recently read that even adult Yellow Bellies don't have much protection from raccoons, dogs, or foxes, and probably bobcats too, since their shells don't close off. I live in Florida, so I worry about alligators too! Originally, I was just planning to keep the little guy until the cold weather was definitely over and until he/she grew a bit, and it has. Now, I am still worried about the preditors. I too want my turtle to be free, but I also want him to live. In Florida, the weather is hot or mild most of the year. We can get some days in the 40's or even freezing, but those are rare. I asked my husband if we could build a pond with an outdoor enclosure, but then I read that Yellow Bellies can live 40 years in captivity, and I can't commit to that as I may not be around myself. I am wondering, is there a size of turtle that has a significantly better chance of survival? My turtle is about 1 and 3/4 inches in diameter and his shell is about 2 inches long. I too will acclimate him to pond water, and I will feed him live food, etc... but when should I release him?
Turtle Texas on March 28, 2014:
I have the same story. We found our quarter size red ear slider in our pool about 1 year ago. I've been taking care of her so that she grows strong to take care of herself in the wild.
Thank you, ALL for sharing your personal stories it is helping me feel stronger about a release when the temps here in Texas are higher.
We have Lake Ray Hubbard 1/4 mile down the hill that she came from and once we have more water in this part of the lake she will be back home.
I also plan on getting lake water (in her tank) before she is let go to ensure she gets use to the water...
Thank you All
I really love this Turtle had NO clue ..I would feel so much for a Turtle that only wants food from me..
Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 01, 2014:
Great points. I take Atlantic Green Sea Turtle hatchlings and put them right by the ocean so that they will not be eaten on the way down the beach, but often wonder about what effect my meddling has.
Really interesting points you raise. Thanks.
Popinjay on September 01, 2013:
Today I am releasing our mature (9 years old) eastern box turtle into a Wildlife Habitat. This turtle has always been an outdoor pet...hibernating, hunting and the like...but in a 3 foot square enclosure. It came to us from another family who had it in an approx. 20 ft. square enclosure with 18 other turtles.
I just think it's time for this reptile to "get back to where it once belonged" and live a full turtle life...whatever that entails. I appreciate the common sense and sensitivity of your article after reading so much opposition to release.
Steph on July 31, 2013:
I just released my turtle. Very much like your story, someone found a wild turtle and passed it on to me. I also began feeding it live food and slowly changing his tank water to Pond water. It was sad to let him go, but I knew it was for the best. I had him for 2 summers, and he grew to a good size.
mariekbloch (author) on July 10, 2013:
Wow, if it was the same turtle, that's amazing. If he knew how to get back to your house from the get-go, it would only take him a few hours to walk there.
My turtle seemed so happy when I released him (or her) into the lake that I wouldn't believe he would want to return to his 20 gallon. Did you keep the snapper? During what season did he make his reappearance?
dave on July 10, 2013:
we saved a snapping turtle from being ran over, it was only the size of a quarter, we had kept him for two years and I took him to the near by river which is about 1/2 mile, 2 month later the turtle returned and walked right into the garage right where his tank was, I was shooked, I didn't think it was the same one but it was, now I feel bad to relese him cause it went through so much to return here
mariekbloch (author) on March 20, 2013:
I was extremely attached to my turtle. If you have the room and all his needs, then why not keep him for one more year? Of course, it won't be much easier a year from now. But yeah, unless you're willing to set up a tank the size of a small swimming pool, you're going to have to let him go eventually. I think two years is fine because they get big enough not to get eaten by most fish and they only miss out on a few hibernations. We sure love our animals, but when they are supposed to be in the wild, that's the best place for them. There's a reason why pet turtles live shorter lives than those in the wild. Good luck.
Dee and Seppy on March 20, 2013:
That was a very nice!! answered a lot of questions that i had. My boyfriends sister took a snapping turtle(September aka Seppy ha ha) and had it for a few days and then gave it to us. I didn't know a thing about them or even have a tank. He was very small like the size or a quarter when we got him and its been about 7 months almost now and he is getting big. I know that i cant keep him forever but i am also scared to let him go. Two reasons, One being that i have become attached to him and two because of a lot of questions that you did answer above. I still will always worry about where he is, if hes okay, hoping that he did not get eaten. Its so hard. So what to do if i cant let him go? But your post did help me lean towards letting him go in the near future. Decisions, Decisions.
mariekbloch (author) on March 05, 2013:
I don't regret anything. From time to time I miss seeing my turtle in his sandbox, doing quarky things. If I could catch another baby, I would raise it for a year and release it, but my brother's friend chancing upon them entering the water was luck.
I'm sure my turtle and your turtles are doing fine. He acted so happy in the water after I released him, not bumping into glass, no limit. It's where they are meant to be.
Areeb Hossain on March 03, 2013:
I let my turtles go after having the male for about 6 years and the female for the last 2-3 of that six. It's been about 8 months since then and I've been very sad lately and I can't keep myself from tearing up. I would give up anything to have them back. They were getting 5-6 inches in diameter and outgrowing the 30 gallon tank. But I hope they are living a good life because there is a bunch of water weeds algae and small minnows there.
carmella on July 03, 2012:
Thanks, my husband saved ours from 2 kids in SC. They are very healthy. They were the size of a quarter and are now about 4 inches across. They have out grown their tank. We are going back to SC and we are going to bring them back to where they came from. We will miss them, but hopefully they will be happy.
chris on June 05, 2012:
i am stuck in the same situation.. but i just cant let them go its really hard
mateodemysterio on May 18, 2012:
great story you convinced me too
mariekbloch (author) on March 28, 2012:
Thank you Pam, this is the kind of thing I want to hear. This is why I write these. You just made my day!
Pam on March 28, 2012:
I am in the same position - so I was happy to read your post. We got our Eastern Painted when he was about the size of a quarter! He is now 2 years old and quite healthy;like you, I hesitate to 'let him go' fearing for the worst...but your point is well taken...you saved yours from certain death, and I'm sure that now quite big, (yours did) he will do just fine. He knows how to catch minnows, spiders, beetles, and flys on his own, but LOVES the pellets! Ours will be launching very soon, and I feel much better about it after reading your post :)
mariekbloch (author) on June 02, 2011:
Thanks, I hope he'll be fine. Nature can be so cruel, but it's where he belongs.
Cellwood on June 02, 2011:
Fellow turtle lover here! You've gone above and beyond ... and the little guy will be just fine!