I've had my turtle for several years and would like to return it to the wild. How can I release my captive turtle?

First - thanks for caring. Returning a captive turtle to its natural habitat may sound like the best thing to do, but please consider the following:

  • Clearly no turtle or tortoise should be released if the same species is not native to the area being considered for release. Please contact GCTTS if you are considering releasing a water turtle.
  • Research has shown that box turtles often have very limited home ranges and when released into a strange area seldom do well. To read more on this, please refer to: The McKeever Study and a study being done by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
  • Any captive turtle may harbor diseases (respiratory infections, shell rot, etc.) that are not recognized by the owner. When released, the former captive can make other turtles that they come in contact with sick. Undiagnosed and untreated illness can lead to the death of your turtle. It is likely that released captive tortoises are responsible for the severe die-offs experienced by some populations of desert tortoises - see: Demographic Consequences of Disease in Two Desert Tortoise Populations in California, USA. Even healthy captive turtles could introduce microorganisms that a wild population has no immunity against.
  • The GCTTS has a rescue / rehabilitation / adoption program that will take captive box turtles that are no longer wanted by their owners. The turtle will be evaluated for illness, rehabilitated if needed, and adopted to a GCTTS member with the proper experience and facilities to properly house and care for it. We only adopt to members who can house native species outdoors.
  • If you are not in the Houston area or are unable to get your turtles to GCTTS, please contact us anyway and we may be able to refer you to a turtle organization in your area.