Skip to main content

How to Keep a Wild Turtle as a Pet

Jessica has worked in pet retail for over ten years. She adopted a light-sensitive albino leopard gecko (named Lewlew) in 2019.

Discover how to provide the proper habitat, lighting and overall care for a wild turtle.

Discover how to provide the proper habitat, lighting and overall care for a wild turtle.

Wild Turtle vs. Store-Bought One

  • Wild turtles are turtles that are found in the wild, as opposed to captive-bred turtles.
  • While turtles sold in pet stores have been bred and raised in human care, wild turtles have spent generations living in their natural, outdoor habitats.
  • Wild turtles can catch their own food, while a turtle from the pet store eats live feeder fish or pellet-based diets daily.
  • If placed in the wild, a captive-bred turtle would not know how to survive. Never set a turtle from the pet store “free” under the assumption that it will live a happier, healthier life.
Experts will tell you not to keep a wild turtle as a pet, and they are right.

Experts will tell you not to keep a wild turtle as a pet, and they are right.

Can You Keep a Wild Turtle as a Pet?

Many reptile experts and enthusiasts will tell you not to keep a wild turtle as a pet, and they are right. It’s the same reason you may be told not to keep a frog you found in your pond or a bunny you found in your backyard. Animals that live in the wild are not used to living boxed-up in a tank, cage, or hutch. They aren't used to taking food from humans, let alone the pellet diets sold in pet stores. Wild turtles are unaccustomed to being handled by people and to living in captivity. Wild animals only know freedom and day-to-day survival.

Parasites and Salmonella: Will I Be Exposed?

Most importantly, wild turtles can carry parasites like tapeworm, and are known for carrying salmonella bacteria. People can get salmonella from turtles by touching them and not washing their hands thoroughly afterward. Salmonellosis is the same disease you can get from eating undercooked chicken, and it's the reason that the sale of baby turtles was banned in 1970. Children are the most susceptible, as they often forget to wash their hands after touching turtles.

However, both captive-bred turtles and wild turtles can carry salmonella bacteria; wild turtles may even carry less because they aren’t cooped up in small turtle tanks!

How to Care for a Wild Turtle

Keep in mind that it is illegal to own turtles in several states, wild or otherwise. Look into your area's laws on pets and wildlife before considering having a pet turtle. And consider not removing a healthy wild turtle from its natural habitat—turtles are important to the ecosystem. There may even be a turtle rescue organization in your area!

If you do decide to keep a wild turtle, be an informed turtle owner. Many people who take home wild turtles do not understand the care that goes into owning a turtle.

Creating Proper Housing for a Turtle

Keeping a turtle in a fishbowl in the darkest corner of the room wouldn't be appropriate, just as keeping it in a tank without a filter or lamp would be wrong. Turtles need a large aquarium, along with a water filter, heat lamps, and other accessories. A turtle’s home makes all the difference in its quality of life.

  1. Purchase an aquarium and water filter for your turtle.
  2. Maintain temperature and humidity with lamps.
  3. Provide gravel and other habitat accessories.
  4. Clean and maintain the habitat carefully.
Turtles require a large tank, filter, heater, basking lamps, and more to stay healthy.

Turtles require a large tank, filter, heater, basking lamps, and more to stay healthy.

1. Purchase an Aquarium and Water Filter for Your Turtle

Turtles require a large aquarium that can accommodate their size as they grow. Most aquatic turtles (like red-ear sliders or African sidenecks) will grow up to twelve inches—isn’t that big? Remember that to stay happy, your turtle needs room to swim around. Wild turtles are used to a lot more freedom, so don’t cramp them into the smallest tank you can find. PetSmart recommends at least a 55-gallon tank for one aquatic turtle. If your tank doesn't come with a screened cover, be sure to purchase one—turtles can escape and fall out of their tanks!

Just like fish, turtles need a clean water source. I recommend this type of water filter because it can sit in shallow water, or suction to the tank at higher water levels. Not only will a filter keep water cleaner for longer, but it will keep your turtle healthier and happier. This doesn’t mean that you will never have to change the water in your tank; water changes should be done at least monthly, while filters should be rinsed weekly to keep the water clean. Some turtle owners change their water as frequently as every week or two weeks; if the water looks murky, your tank may need to be cleaned!

2. Maintain Temperature and Humidity With Lamps

Turtles have special needs when it comes to the temperature and humidity of their habitat. In a typical turtle tank, the water should remain between 72 and 77 degrees. To maintain the water temperature, you need an underwater heater for your tank. Underwater heaters automatically maintain the optimal water temperature and should always be kept running.


I prefer liquid crystal thermometers because floating thermometers fall apart on me. These thermometers stick to the side of the tank, and you can use multiple to monitor the water temperature and basking lamp temperature.

You'll need two thermometers in your turtle tank: one for the water temperature and one for your turtle’s basking spot. Turtles need a warm spot to bask during the day when they are awake and active. Most pet stores supply heat bulbs in the reptile section for this purpose. Your turtle’s basking spot should be as warm as 90 to 95 degrees. Heat lamps should be turned off at night to provide cooler nighttime temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees.

UV Light

Many new turtle owners don’t know that their aquatic turtle needs twelve hours of ultraviolet light per day! Turtles are naturally active during the day; in the wild, this is the amount of ultraviolet light they would normally receive. To replicate this setting indoors, you can purchase a UV (ultraviolet) lamp from your local pet store. There are also heat lamps that function as UV lamps. Using these bulbs reduces clutter on top of your tank and makes your life easier.

Most large pet stores have a turtle-specific section with basic supplies.

Most large pet stores have a turtle-specific section with basic supplies.

3. Provide Gravel and Other Habitat Accessories

You can line the bottom of your turtle tank with gravel for decorative purposes. Try to use rocks that are larger than the turtle's head—accidentally ingesting smaller gravel can seriously harm the turtle. You can also purchase a floating dock for your turtle to bask on. These surfaces suction to the side of the tank and detach easily for cleaning.

To further decorate the tank, try adding branches, plants or other turtle accessories. These are not required but can give your tank a more natural look. A wild turtle might enjoy a more natural environment!

Choose rocks that are larger than the turtle's head so it can't accidentally ingest them.

Choose rocks that are larger than the turtle's head so it can't accidentally ingest them.

4. Clean and Maintain the Habitat Carefully

You should clean the gravel in your turtle tank at least once a month. Food debris and other waste tends to sink between the gravel and dirty the water. Gravel vacuums are sold in most pet stores in both the aquatic and reptile sections. If you don’t have a gravel vacuum, you can dump out the gravel and rinse it in a strainer under warm water (though it will take longer). What is important is that the gravel is cleaned of debris and bacteria.

Remember to clean your other turtle accessories as needed—the cleaner the tank, the lower the probability of getting and spreading salmonella!

Everyone should always wash their hands after handling turtles, wild or captive bred.

Everyone should always wash their hands after handling turtles, wild or captive bred.

Final Thoughts About Wild Turtles

Keep in mind that turtles, whether found in the wild or bought in a pet store, are a big commitment. Turtles can live anywhere from ten years old to forty years old to one hundred years old. The life span of a turtle depends on the breed, so do your research before deciding to take in a wild turtle. If you are not prepared to care for a turtle for that long, reconsider your decision. If your children want to keep a turtle, explain to them why they are such a big commitment.

Getting a Pet Store Turtle Is Best

As opposed to captive-bred turtles, wild turtles can become both stressed and depressed when taken from their natural environment and put in a tank. Wild turtles are not used to human contact and can suffer from the experience. If you want a turtle that will enjoy its life swimming in your tank and being handled by people, getting one from a pet store or other seller is the way to go. If your wild turtle seems overly stressed and unwell, it may be best to return it to its natural habitat.

What Do You Think?

How to Identify Wild Turtles

Aquatic Turtle Online Care Guides

  • Petco Aquatic Turtle Care Sheet
    This online care guide has information about your turtle's diet and feeding habits, as well as housing, substrate, lighting and other recommended supplies.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: I found a wild turtle on a big freeway about to get run over. My dad has taken care of wild turtles before but I'm worried, what should I do?

Answer: Did your dad take it in, and that's why you're worried? If he's had experience caring for wild turtles in the past, he's already ahead of a lot of would-be wild turtle owners. If the place you rescued it from is near a body of water where you believe the turtle came from, you can always transport it there and let it go. I'm sure the turtle would appreciate it, as well as being saved from the freeway.

Question: What type of food should I feed my turtle?

Answer: It can depend on the species, but most turtles will eat small fish (feeder fish), crickets, vegetables (like lettuce), and other things. Pet stores also sell turtle food in the form of sticks or pellets, as well as vitamin supplements.

Question: I found a baby turtle on the side of the road while on a walk. Me and my parents have decided to raise it and in a couple of years put it in our pond. What do I need for him and how long should we keep him till we release him? He's a painted turtle. Also he looks very young.

Answer: If you found the turtle on a road near a pond or lake, you could easily release it back there right now. Be aware that in certain states it is not legal keep a wild turtle as a pet. Turtles outside get plenty of sunlight and warmth; turtles kept in an aquarium need heat and UVB lamps to simulate that and keep them healthy. Some turtle kits come with everything you would need to set up a new tank. A filtered, heated tank with the appropriate bulbs is what you would need at the very least.

Question: What do red-eared slider turtles need to live as pets?

Answer: They need the basics - a large tank, water filter, water heater, basking and UV lamps, substrate, food, and any decorations you want to add. A lot of pet stores sell kits that come with these. It would be worth it to get a larger tank kit - you turtle might be small now, but it is going to grow, and can live up to thirty years.

Question: I have a self built small, shallow rock river and pond in my front yard, could a wild turtle live here? Which species would be best suited were I to buy one at a pet shop?

Answer: Be sure that your pond has a basking area for the turtle, as well as a fence around the area (so it does not wander away, and so predators cannot get in). Some turtles that can live in an outdoor pond include red eared sliders, painted turtles, map turtles, and snapping turtles.

Question: I found a baby turtle on the side of the road. I put it in an inch of water, and then put a heat lamp over it. I want to transfer the turtle to our old fish tank, but I do not think the filter will work in such shallow water, and the temperature water heater is broken. What should I do until I can find a new one?

Answer: Most pet stores with a reptile section sell filters that can sit in shallow water, or can be suctioned to the tank to match the height of the water. You can also order one online. For now, the fish tank is definitely better than a cooler, even without a heater or other accessories.

Question: What do I feed my wild turtle?

Answer: Is this a turtle that lives outside, or a turtle that you rescued? If it's outside, I would leave it be. If this is a rescue that you now care for, you can try commercial turtle food (pellets), but it may not find them interesting. You can also feed dark leafy greens and small feeder fish.

Question: I found a red-eared slider in my front yard. I put it in a blanket. What's the next step?

Answer: Red-eared sliders are semi-aquatic, which means they spend part of the time in water. If you plan to keep caring for this turtle, it's going to need a large tank, a water filter, a water heater, a basking lamp, and other accessories. Most pet stores sell these in their reptile sections. An aquatic turtle kit where the tank comes with everything can help you save money while getting everything the turtle needs.

Question: How do I feed my baby turtle if they won't eat?

Answer: Did you take home your new turtle recently? New environments can be stressful, and they may not eat right away. And what are you trying to feed it?

Question: My pool is murky due to a broken motor. A turtle fell in about a week or so ago, and I can't get him out. We can't see him when he goes under water. I feel bad for the turtle. Do you have any recommendations?

Answer: Have you tried throwing a net over him when you catch a glimpse of him in the water? Does your pool have a ladder to get in or steps? If it has steps, you might be able to lure the turtle out with fresh lettuce near the steps outside of the pool. He's going to need food eventually.

Question: Should we move our three outdoor turtles to our new home?

Answer: Have you raised these turtles since they were young? Are they pets? If it is a matter of taking them with you or releasing them into the wild, you should not release them. They will not know how to fend for themselves and may not survive. If you cannot take your turtles with you, look into pet or wildlife rescues in your area and ask if they will take them in.

Question: I have a baby turtle. How do I know that it's happy?

Answer: You can try to judge by if your turtle seems healthy in the environment you are keeping it. Is its shell clean and hard? Remember that turtles need a heat lamp (to bask under) and a UV lamp to have healthy shells. Does your turtle have a good appetite? Is it active? If your turtle is healthy and in an appropriately sized and furnished tank, it is likely a happy turtle!

Question: I saved a small spiny soft turtle from being slaughtered for its meat. It's around six-inches long. Our country declared it an invasive species, and says it needs to be terminated. That's why we can't release it in the wild, so I would like to keep it instead. It is not eating the blanched fish I gave it, and the pond isn't built yet because of its unexpected arrival. It's in a ten-gallon tank right now, without a filter. I'll try to install a filter tomorrow. What is appropriate to do in the meantime?

Answer: As far as food, could you try feeding it small live fish (like feeder fish sold in pet stores, if you have access to that), worms, or crickets (either alive or dead, they sell these in pet stores too). I bet it will love the pond you are building it. Just be sure that there is no way for the turtle to escape your pond area and go out into the environment - if it is seen as an invasive species in your area, it could do serious harm to your local ecosystems.

Question: My dad brought home a pond turtle he found on the street, what should my next step be?

Answer: The first thing I would suggest (out of necessity) is releasing it back into the wild where it was found. If you are unable to do that at this point, or are set on keeping it, you need supplies - a large aquatic tank, water heater, water filter, basking bulb, etc. A lot of pet stores sell turtle kits, where the tank comes with these things included for a decent price. It is also worth trying to research what type of turtle it is based on its appearance, to see how big it may get and if it has any other requirements.

Question: I really want this turtle I found in a lake. It is a baby painted turtle, but I don't know if I am ready for the commitment. I already have two fish that I have kept alive for two years, though. What should I do?

Answer: If it is living happily in the lake, I would leave it be. Turtles are definitely a more significant commitment than fish. They would need a big tank, water filter, water heater, basking bulbs, and live a lot longer. And as a baby, it would need access to all of these things to grow up healthy. I'd make sure you can commit to owning a turtle, whether wild or domestically raised, first.

Question: Would a fenced-in backyard with plenty of grass and gardens and water be ok to raise a wild turtle?

Answer: What do you mean by plenty of water? Is it a large pond, deep enough for the turtle to swim? Does it have access to fish in said pond? Will it get plenty of direct sunlight? These are all things to take into consideration.

Question: I just found a baby turtle. I don’t want to keep it as a pet but is there something I can do to help it survive?

Answer: Find a local wildlife organization that you can turn it over to.

Question: Do yo have to use a big tank for a little turtle and if so can I use a 2-gallon tank?

Answer: A 2 gallon tank is WAY too small for any turtle. I would start with a 20 gallon, as that is not too big and many kits exist in that size with everything you would included - lights, a filter, etc.

Question: I found a tiny turtle (about the size of a quarter) in a stream in my backyard. The current is too powerful for it to swim through, so I am worried about releasing it. What do I do?

Answer: Is there a local wildlife rescue you can contact and surrender the turtle to? They will be better able to care for or release it in a safe place.

Question: I found a baby red eared slider turtle in my backyard pool. I keep it in a shoe box, but it keeps trying to get out. What should I do?

Answer: Red-eared sliders are semi-aquatic, which means they spend part of the time in water. It cannot survive in a shoe box with no water (among other things). Do you live near a body of water where it may have come from, like a lake or pond? If you don't know where it came from, is there a turtle rescue you can hand it over to? If you plan to keep caring for this turtle, it's going to need a large tank, water filter, water heater, basking lamp, and other accessories to survive and thrive.

Question: Should I take a turtle from my lake?

Answer: Honestly, no. That is not what this article is trying to promote. Leave the turtles in your lake alone in their natural habitat. There are domesticated turtles that you can buy from either pet shops or breeders that are accustomed to captivity.

Question: How do you do an outside turtle enclosure?

Answer: It has been done, but I don't have any firsthand experience! I would research more online about how to build one.

Question: Is there any way you can’t get sick from a pet turtle?

Answer: There is always a risk of salmonella when handling turtles or any other reptile. As long as you wash your hands well right after handling (before touching your face, eating food, etc) you can prevent infection.

Question: What do I feed this snapping turtle I found?!

Answer: Snapping turtles will eat a lot of things - minnows, crickets, worms, leafy green vegetables, and even meat.

Question: I am going on a 3 day vacation today to my grandma's lake. I want to catch a turtle because I have seen and tried to catch them. I don't know if she will have the right supplies and I have to drive 3 hours ... What should I bring?

Answer: I would suggest not taking the turtles from the lake. They are likely thriving there, and it is three hours away from you. You would also need to know/find out if you can legally keep a wild turtle in your state. If so, you would need to have a setup ready for when you get home - the big tank, filter, heater, heat bulbs, etc.

Question: My dog found a turtle/tortoise but it won't come out, so I can't identify whether it's a turtle or tortoise. Right know it's in my sink. I have no experience and want it to feel comfortable. What do I do?

Answer: Where is the sink? Is there any way you can keep your dog away from that portion of your house/property and leave a door open so the turtle/tortoise can leave safely? I think that, as long as your dog is around, it may be too afraid to come out.

Question: Are you able to take a wild baby painted turtle home if we do what the article tells us?

Answer: Wildlife laws are different for every state, but owning a wild turtle is prohibited in many. You'd need to look up your state's laws. I would advise not to take a baby turtle away from it's environment, though. That is not what this article is trying to promote.

Question: Can a wild turtle be released in the wild after being kept in a tank for several years?

Answer: There are differing opinions on this, but since it came from the wild in the first place, it may be all right. If it has been living off of a pellet-based diet, you may want to try feeding it fish for a bit first, since that's what it would be living off of. And releasing it into the same environment, it originally came from.

Question: Can you keep a red eared slider if the lake it was in was used as a pay lake? I just took one home and it's a baby. It's only a few months to 1 year old, And I don't want harm to come to it. I've only had it for a day and it has not eaten the food we bought it.

Answer: I would release it back where you found it. Wild turtles are not used to captivity. It is likely not used to pellets as a food source, so it isn't eating it.

Question: What do red eared sliders eat?

Answer: They can eat a lot of things! Most pet stores sell pelleted turtle diets. They also eat comet goldfish (feeder fish), and can be given dark leafy greens and cut up vegetables.

Question: We found a wild turtle on the side of the road and we are low on money and can't afford turtle food for him. My mom raised turtles and said to feed him lettuce. Is this a good idea?

Answer: Turtles can eat many types of leafy greens, so lettuce should be fine! The turtle may even enjoy it more.

Question: I found a baby olive ridley turtle on the beach near the ocean. They do baby turtle releases in the area so it must have slipped away. I thought it was nearly dead from the sun and heat. Brought it home and put it in shallow water, took awhile but now it is moving around. What should I do with this baby olive ridley turtle? I am afraid if I take it back to the beach it will just get eaten by birds.

Answer: Is there a wildlife rescue organization or center in your area that you can contact for help? Maybe they can safely release it back into the ocean, or care for it until that is possible.

Question: My dad bought a tank for my turtle, but I don't think it's big enough. What should I do?

Answer: Can you find out how many gallons the tank is? If the turtle is small right now, a smaller tank may be able to hold you over, but you are going to need a large tank in the future.

Question: How can I tell if a turtle is a male or female?

Answer: This can depend on the type of turtle, and is easier to do with adult turtles. Male turtles tend to have longer claws than females, and may also have a V-shaped notch on their shell where their tail is located. Adult females also tend to have longer shells than adult males. The underside of a male's shell may also curve a bit inwards, while the underside of a female's shell tends to be flat.

Question: Is it good to give my pet turtle fish food pellets?

Answer: Fish food does not provide turtles with the nutritional value that they need to grow and thrive. Most pet stores (or online sites) sell turtle pellets. You can also feed live feeder fish if the turtle is big enough to eat them.

Question: I found a box turtle or a terrapin and don't know if I need a permit to keep it. We've taken care of lot's of turtles before including land turtles and water turtles, and most of the time we only picked them up because they were hurt, but I was younger and didn't know that some times people need permits. If I need a permit how do I get one?

Answer: Check your state's Department of Environmental Conservation website (if applicable). There should be some resource pertaining to your location that has information about which animals are exotic or endangered, and how to apply for a license to keep them.

Question: I rescued and kept a wild river turtle for over 7 months. I have always intended to set them free again when they are a bit bigger, as the lake they’re from has fresh water crocodiles. Do you have any tips for setting them free? Is there a better time?

Answer: If it's winter where you are, now may not be the best time (as many species of turtles hibernate in the winter). Springtime may be a better time to release. It's good that you plan on releasing in the lake the turtle came from.

Question: What do turtles eat?

Answer: Turtles can eat food pellets, feeder fish, some insects, and potentially fruits and vegetables. It all depends on the species of the turtle!

© 2013 Jessica Peri


Jessica Peri (author) from United States on September 10, 2020:

@Mireya: I absolutely agree that no one should keep wild caught turtles, or wild animals in general. However, that isn't going to stop everyone. There are still people that will keep a wild turtle against advice. I've tried to convince people in person against it, and failed. I would rather convey the work and expenses that go into turtle ownership, to prevent them from being stuck in tiny bowls and tanks without the appropriate equipment. A turtle from a pet store will always be a better pet.

Mireya Seymour on August 28, 2020:

This is absolutely horrible advice! No one should be keeping wild turtles period. Wild animals are meant to be wild. The information for the first half of this article is good but then you go on to say "If you do keep a wild turtle here is how to do it!" No, do not do that. If you find a turtle that's hurt, call animal control because it's their job to help wild animals and then put them back where they belong. It's in no one's best interest and especially not in the animals best interest to capture and keep it in your home. Go buy one from a pet store, educate yourself!

Jessica Peri (author) from United States on July 08, 2020:

@Ryan The best thing to do would be to surrender it to a local wildlife/turtle rescue, so that it could get the proper veterinary care and eventually be released back into the wild!

Ryan Blanchard on June 26, 2020:

How would I be able to help the painted turtle that I found? It has a hurt foot, it also isn't eating anything. Can you please help!

Thank you,

Austin gosnell on March 24, 2020:

I don’t know if my turtle is distress

Jessica Peri (author) from United States on September 19, 2019:

@Michelle Normally (for pet turtles) an exotic vet will repair the shell with turtle-safe epoxy and a special type of fiberglass cloth. I am unsure if the crack will heal on its own. It may depend on the severity of the crack. But I do not know enough to say for certain.

Michelle T. on September 13, 2019:

We rescued a red eared slider from certain doom on a very busy highway 2 weeks ago. Tried to get her to a turtle rescue, but that turned out not to be possible. She has a cracked shell but it is aligned, and not exposing her too horrible bad. We had to clean it for a couple of days, but once the site remained clean and dry, have basically left her alone.

I'd like to release her in a body of water I am assuming she was coming from or going to. My question is, do I have to wait for the cracks to seal completely to do this? It is my observation she is doing well in this captivity habitat. Can she do as well on her own and heal the rest of the way? Thanks for your help.

William on September 10, 2019:

I am from Korea and I found a baby Chinese softshell turtle. I found him under a bridge, where there are no lights, nor oxygenated water. I didn't provide him with basking spots and filters because he lived in such dirty environment. I also provided sand at the bottom, because I know that these species like to hide under sand. However, he won't eat anything. Is he not eating because of the size of the tank and the lack of materials? How do I get him to eat(I do provide UV light)?

Jessica Peri (author) from United States on August 20, 2019:

@Kenneth Hey, it's good to hear from you! Turtles are really cool creatures, and deserve the best care they can receive. I plan on increasing my activity here again, so I'll definitely check in more often. Thanks for the comment and for loving turtles!

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on August 11, 2019:

Jessica: long time since talking to you. You are one of my treasured-followers and I just want to say thank you for that.

I loved this hub about turtles. My gandkids love turtles as their mom did when she was living. She loved ALL animals and lots of reptiles.

Just wanted to share my love for my grandkids and daughter with you and to read your exceptional hub about one of my favorite life forms. Hey, write me anytime.

Leandrea on June 28, 2019:

Can i keep a box turtle in a small pool with a small amount of water grass leaves so that it can think of it as a swampy area?

Rachel on June 27, 2019:

Am I allowed to take a wild red ear slider turtle from a local public pond to my 1,300-gallon backyard pond?

Jessica Peri (author) from United States on May 21, 2019:

@Riley Did you find it outside? I would release it where you found it.

Riley on May 20, 2019:

I have a baby red eared slider in a 5 gallon bucket with some water and rocks should I release it or should I keep it

Tim on November 11, 2018:

just put my temporary pool away and found a nest of baby turtles that have apparently hatched and have been trapped under the liner they since I put the pool up in late June. There are 7 of them about the size of a quarter and seemed to be hibernating there. Well the nest is now exposed and they are awake and crawling around. Its November 11th here in Buffalo NY and the temp is 33 degrees now. I am afraid to just set them free this late in the season as I fear they are too 'young' prepare for winter, especially since not properly nourished and winter just about already here. what is the best way to handle this? Just let them go and figure it out, or re-bury them in a safe place (how deep and any special instructions) or take them in for the winter and care for them and set them free in the spring?

Jessica Peri (author) from United States on November 09, 2018:

@Curtis I'm glad you plan on letting them go!

Curtis on November 03, 2018:

I had a wild res lay her eggs n my front yard, all 5 of them r now n a tank, I plan on letting them go this spring or when it’s warm enough

Jessica Peri (author) from United States on May 30, 2018:

@Cat Why catch food? If you can, getting food from a pet store would be much easier. Depending on the size of the turtle, they have feeder fish and even small turtle pellets.

Cat on May 25, 2018:

What would be the best way to cach food for the red ered slider turtle?

Jessica Peri (author) from United States on May 10, 2018:

It varies between different types of turtles, and won't be obvious until it is adult size. Male turtles tend to have longer claws than females, and can also have a V-shaped notch on their shell where their tail is. There are other methods, but with such a young turtle you may not know for a while.

Try researching online to figure out what species of turtle you have, and see what they eat specifically. Some stores have very small pellets designed for baby turtles. You can also try leafy vegetables (lettuce, cabbage) but it will have to be cut up very small.

Isabella on May 09, 2018:

How do you find out if a turtle is a male or female??? And also my turtle I found on my driveway was stuck in the rocks and I helped it it was about the size of a pennyy and it was all route and happy but now it won’t eat or anything. How do I get it to eat?

Jessica Peri (author) from United States on August 02, 2017:

@Sharon Etienne Maybe she is gravid (egg-bound)? Apparently, females can carry eggs whether there is a male around or not. The symptoms included a change in eating habits and basking habits. If you look it up and it sounds familiar, I know you can try to get her to lay the eggs, or take her to a vet if that fails. I'll look for some links to send if you can't find anything - email me via my profile if you like.

Sharon Etienne on July 30, 2017:

We have an approximately 50 + year old female, south american wood turtle, as we are told, that we keep in her own aquarium, appropriately we hope. However after 15 years together, she seems to be changing her behavior. Climbing on her log, when she only ever has dwelt inside of it, eating less or waiting for food, which has never been her norm etc..Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Lisa on July 15, 2017:

I have a wild box turtle and he isn't scared of me and my family

Tucker on July 04, 2017:

I don't know what type of turtle mine is

Turtleluver02 on May 21, 2017:

I had a wild turtle and his name was raph we let him go in the same place we foind him after having him fot a week and he came right back to his tank and sat there cause he could not get in. We had to force him to swim away in his natural home and he never came back luckily. Now i have 10 wild turtles in my yard and 1 of them has 1 toe! Im thinking of keeping 2 of the babys they are as big as a toonie and i named them shaylah and orea. Im adicted to them i luv them so much and i will do enything in my power to adopt them but if the get streased or if this is to much work i will let them go in a heartbeat for there safty and happyness.

I am already writting down important things and researching they are painted belly eild turtles. I have them in a tank out side and i will be bring them inside when i get room ( later on today )

Thx so much for this articme it really helped me i will care for them and send them all my luv.



Jessica Peri (author) from United States on July 25, 2014:

He came back? That's strange. Maybe you had him long enough that he wanted to return. Who knows. :)

lol on July 24, 2014:

hi i have a wild turtle and i let it go and the next day i was going to clean and put up his aquarium that is outside and he came back he was on the side tring to climb the wall

Kenneth Avery on April 21, 2014:

Hi, Dream,

You are very welcome. That is cool. I asked because my hometown doesn't have a pet store--shows you how rural we are. And I appreciate you looking at my hubs.

And thank YOU SO MUCH for the follow which I will send you my personal note of thanks in a few days.



Jessica Peri (author) from United States on April 21, 2014:

Thank you so much! While I don't own a turtle, I'd like to help people who bring them home from the wild and insist on keeping them. And of course I'll check out your hubs!

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on April 21, 2014:

Hi, Dreamhowl,


Excellent hub. Great read and great topic. I voted up and all across on this presentation. Loved the presentation, graphics, and refreshing style of lay-out.

Turtles are one of my favorite beings. I appreciate how you taught us how to keep one as a pet. You are a very caring person.

I am going to leave you some fan mail and then become a follower. Would you consider reading one or two of my hubs and do the same?

I would love that.

Thank you sincerely,