I have had my Red-eared Slider turtle for several years and would like to release him into the wild. How can I go about releasing my captive water turtle?
First - thanks for caring. Returning a captive water turtle to a natural wild habitat may sound like the best thing for you to do, but please carefully consider the following information:
* A 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 sick. Undiagnosed and untreated illness can lead to the death of your turtle as well as others that it may come in contact with.
* Captive turtles, especially ones that have been kept indoors in aquariums, do not have an immune system as strong as turtles that have been kept outside. Your turtle may not survive being suddenly thrust into an environment where it does not have the immunity to fight off naturally ocurring disease causing organisms.
* It is best that turtles that have been kept indoors and have never been allowed to hibernate should be allowed to hibernate naturally, outside, at least one winter before release.
* Some turtles may not recognize natural foods found in the wild.
* The GCTTS has a native water turtle release program that will take captive water turtles that are no longer wanted by their owners. GCTTS members with the proper experience and facilities can care for your turtle temporarily and will:
o evaluate its health and treat any illnesses (vet care is available if needed)
o help it to recognize natural foods
o allow it to hibernate naturally in an outdoor in ground backyard pond for at least one winter.
* By doing these things under qualified supervision, your turtle will develop the strong immune system it needs to live a happy, healthy life in the wild.
* We only release water turtles into environments that are appropriate for that particular species and safe from humans, roads and vehicles. If your water turtle, for some reason, can not be released, it will be adopted by an experienced GCTTS member who has proper outdoor facilities that can allow it to live a quality life in a natural backyard pond-type setting.