Where Can I Donate My Red-Eared Slider Turtles?

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We all love our pets, but sometimes, life forces us to part ways with them. If you have a red-eared slider turtle and are moving, going to college, or starting a family, you might need to find a new home for your pet. So, when you can no longer care for your pet turtle, where do you go? To help you out, we’ve put together a list of places that take in red-eared slider turtles.

What You Need to Know about Red-Eared Sliders

Red-eared sliders are one of the most common pet turtles in the US. They are native turtles to the southern United States, but are unfortunately seen as an invasive species in many states due to their tendency to escape or be released into the wild, where they can pose a threat to local animals.

Wild turtles in general pose a threat to local wildlife because they often carry diseases and can compete with native species for food. In addition, they pose a salmonella risk to people, which is why it’s important to always wash your hands thoroughly after handling turtles or their habitats.

When Should You Consider Donating Your Pet Turtle?

Red-eared sliders may be extremely common, but they’re not low-maintenance pets. If you decide that you want to donate your pet turtle, there are a few things that should tip you off that it’s time for a new home:

You Can’t Provide An Adequately-Sized Habitat

These turtles start out pretty small, but they grow fairly quickly. If you can’t provide an enclosure that provides at least 10 gallons of water per inch of turtle, it’s likely time to upgrade your setup. This means that if your red-eared slider is 2 inches long, you need at least 20 gallons of water for it to live comfortably.

Over the course of your turtle’s decades-long life, they’ll need more and more space as they grow. You will need to upgrade to a larger tank, and eventually, consider fenced-in backyard ponds or an outdoor pond.

If you have no yard at all, your turtle could be in a glass bowl or an indoor habitat that’s too small. This could cause your red-eared slider to become stressed out or show signs that it is dying. Under such circumstances, you should definitely consider donating your pet so that it can have a more secure life.

You Can’t Keep Your Turtle Enclosure Clean

Curious aquarium turtle

Whether you have a tank or an outdoor pen, they need to be properly set up and kept clean. This means that you should change the water at least once daily and wash down the enclosure with hot soapy water every week. You will also need to stock tanks with live plants and stones that can be cleaned with boiling water.

In addition to cleaning your tank, you will also need to invest in a good, purpose-built filter for turtles that can handle the water volume in your tank. Good tank filters are able to keep your tank clean by cleaning the water of wastes and chemicals without removing too much oxygen.

Because maintaining a tank can be expensive and overwhelming, you should consider donating your pet turtle if you’re not comfortable keeping up with the maintenance for a long period of time. It’s much better to entrust your turtle’s care to a well-funded organization that will not run into money issues or be overwhelmed by the responsibilities of care.

You Can’t Keep Your Turtle’s Home Warm

Red-eared sliders need temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a range that allows your turtle to develop strong bones and shells, but it’s also the temperature at which they need to live. If you can’t provide a suitably warm enclosure, your pet turtle is going to suffer.

Those living in the Mid-Atlantic states also have to worry about chilly waters and frost level. If you can’t protect your pond from these conditions, it’s likely time to find a suitable new home for your red-eared slider.

Even if your turtle is housed in an indoor enclosure, many owners might find themselves wracking up thousands of dollars in care and heating bills for turtles, which might make a donation seem more appealing.

You Find It A Challenge To Provide Adequate Nutrition

It goes without saying that diet and nutrition play a vital role in maintaining the quality of life for your pets.

Taking care of turtles isn’t just about placing them in a tank with edible plants and calling it a day. Often, turtle owners find themselves spending a lot of money on turtle food and supplements, such as calcium. These foods and supplements keep your red-eared slider healthy and help them grow strong bones and shells.

Good nutrition is especially important if you own baby turtles, as they need to grow into healthy adults. If you can’t provide your turtle with a healthy diet, you should consider donating it to a place that specializes in caring for and rehabilitating turtles so that it has all the nutrition and care it needs.

Where To Donate Your Turtles?

Once you have decided that your red-eared slider needs a new home, there are various places you can donate it to. These places typically have staff that are dedicated to caring for turtles and being able to provide them with the kind of treatment, space, and diet they need. To help you get started, here are some places you can check out:

Pet Stores

It may seem like an obvious choice, but pet stores are actually your best bet for finding a new home for your turtle.

Pet stores aren’t just about selling turtles – they also have staff that are trained to care for them and make sure they stay alive. Of course, some stores that specialize in the pet trade might not be the best option because they might not actually care about your pet.

For this reason, your best course of action might be to contact nearby pet stores and ask them whether they are willing to take your turtles. If you’re unsure, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and choose a store that has a good reputation for taking care of their pets.

Turtle Rescue Centers

Sea Turtle Rescue Center

One of the most reliable options for finding a new home for your turtle is to contact local wildlife rescue centers and ask them whether they can take care of it. Wildlife and turtle rescues often have full-time staff dedicated to rehabbing turtles and caring for injured animals. These places typically offer round-the-clock care, which is essential when you’re dealing with turtles.

Though turtle rescue centers seem like an obvious solution, you have to remember that they are often struggling for funding and space. Red-eared sliders are one of the most common turtles in the pet trade, which is why you find so many of them in rescue centers. Though these places are willing to take care of your turtle, keep in mind that they often have a long waiting list for pets.

Even if your local turtle center is at capacity and incapable of taking in any more red-eared sliders, they are likely able to give you advice on places that might be willing to take them. For example, the Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society provides a comprehensive list of alternate reptile rescue options and turtle rescue organizations for people who are looking for a new home for their turtles.

Nature Centers

Another great place to donate your red-eared sliders is nature centers, which are typically full of staff that have experience caring for reptiles. Most nature centers care about animals and want to make sure that they live healthy lives. When you come into the center with your turtle, you might get lucky and find a staff member who can take it in.

If you don’t quite get this lucky, nature centers are also great because they often have good relationships with local pet stores and wildlife rescues. For example, if your nature center doesn’t have space to take in your turtle, it might be able to give you the name of a place that does.

Furthermore, nature centers that take in animals are often regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These regulations ensure that animals are stored, fed, and housed in a way that is safe for them. This means that if a nature center decides to take in your turtle, your pet will find itself in very safe and capable hands.

Humane Societies

Humane Societies logo
Image Source: www.hsi.org

Another great place to take your turtles is humane societies. Humane societies are charities that help care for pets and protect them from harmful conditions. When you come into a humane society with your turtle, the staff will likely be able to find appropriate homes for him or her.

Remember that many humane societies are underfunded and simply do not have the space to house every pet in their community. Though you might get lucky, your turtle is more likely to be adopted if it comes into a place that has an existing relationship with people who are looking for pets.

In addition, red-eared sliders that have grown to a relatively large size (8 inches or longer) are often not suitable for adoption at humane societies. This is due to the fact that turtles of this size (which can be as heavy as 5 lbs.) require special care and housing. Therefore, if you find a humane society that does allow larger turtles, your best course of action might be to put down a deposit for your turtle.

Animal Parks

An animal park or zoo is yet another great place to donate your red-eared sliders. Though many people expect that these sorts of places are already overpopulated with turtles, this isn’t necessarily the case. Many zoos enjoy having large reptiles on display, and red-eared sliders are some of the most popular turtles to have!

When you bring your turtle to an animal park, it’s important to remember that these places will likely only take in turtles if they have the space. Unfortunately, this means that there is a possibility of your pet being euthanized or set up for research if you bring it to a place that simply doesn’t have room. If you find these outcomes upsetting, it’s a very good idea to call ahead and do some research before you go.

Be that as it may, if an animal park or zoo does have room, they are full of knowledgeable staff that are used to caring for turtles. This means that your pet will likely find himself in very capable hands. One such resource might be a veterinary staff, which helps keep the turtles healthy and regulated.

Turtle Forums

If you’re still looking for suitable options after considering all of the above, you might want to consider posting on a turtle forum. Forums are great because they give you the opportunity to connect with people who like turtles as much as you do!

Because it can be difficult to find someone looking for your specific turtle (and someone that has the space and capability to care for them), it’s important to post several pictures of your turtle. When you do this, be sure to put the size of the turtle in the picture. This way, forum members will know if they have space for your pet or not.

Many sliders for adoption are found by people who are looking for turtle pets of their own. Be sure to mention that you’re willing to provide support if the new owner runs into any trouble, and be as descriptive as possible when describing your pet. If you can, take a video of it eating and swimming so that the potential owners know what they’re getting!

Animal Control Agencies

Animal control agencies should be viewed as a last-resort option. Although many people have taken their red-eared sliders to animal control agencies, it’s important to remember that these places are often underfunded and poorly staffed. This means that your turtle might not receive the care he or she needs, and could ultimately be euthanized if a suitable place cannot be found.

In addition, many states consider red-eared sliders an invasive species, which means that animal control agencies could be required to euthanize the turtle. If you do decide to take your red-eared slider to an animal control agency, it’s important to call ahead and find out what facilities take in reptiles so that you can be sure you have a place for your pet. 

Conclusion

Red-eared sliders are extremely popular pets for various reasons, but you should absolutely think twice before you bring one (or three) into your home. That said, many people still find themselves in a position where they have to give their pets up for adoption. In that case, we hope that this article was helpful for you!

Remember to share this article with someone who is thinking about getting a red-eared slider turtle as a pet, or who recently got one and might have to give it up. Together, we can help ensure that red-eared sliders are not homeless or euthanized when they don’t need to be!

Wanda is a second-generation aquarist from the sunny tropics of Malaysia. She has been helping her father with his freshwater tanks since she was a toddler, and has fallen in love with the hobby ever since. A perpetual nomad, Wanda does her best to integrate fish-keeping with her lifestyle, and has taken care of fish in three different continents. She loves how it provides a nice break from the hustle and bustle of life.

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