Can I Release Turtle Into A Pond? [MUST READ]

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Due to the surge in popularity of keeping turtles as pets, there is a growing concern that owners may accidentally release their animals into the pond or wild. When individuals purchase a turtle, this issue often arises because they do not have sufficient knowledge about turtles.

It is imperative that captive turtles never be released into the natural environment such as ponds. It’s not only risky for the non-native turtles, but it may also throw off the balance of a whole ecosystem.

Releasing a turtle somewhere out of its regular habitat is the most damaging action that people do for both the turtle and the ecosystem since it will cause the turtle to suffer the most. There are a number of factors to consider before letting a turtle out into the natural pond that was kept as a pet.

In order to make things more understandable, I will discuss the reasons why this is harmful to the turtle, and the reasons why this is harmful to the ecosystem. And last, if you find that you are unable to retain your turtle any longer, I will explain what you should do with it.

Can A Pet Turtle Survive In A Pond?

The majority of turtles kept as pets were born in confinement, which means they were never required to stress about threats to their survival, such as food, predators, basking sites, or even other turtles.

So there might be several factors that can be against them in a natural pond environment. Such as:

1. Food

It is not necessary for captive turtles to hunt or capture their food, rather, the majority of the time, the food will just be “lying about” in the enclosure in which they are kept, such as an aquarium.

They will just have to make a little amount of effort in a few specific circumstances in order to successfully capture one of the fishes swimming in the aquarium.

Turtles that live in the pond must typically spend some time searching for food, and the majority of the time, the food they locate will consist of foliage rather than meat.

In the pond, turtles only receive a very seldom chance to consume meat, and when they do, it is often just a very little amount. The majority of native turtles obtain their protein from prey items such as tiny insects, larvae, and snails, with the occasional meal consisting of fish.

However, in order to acquire those proteins, they will need to look for, hunt, and sometimes even pursue the prey.

So a turtle accustomed to acquiring its food without exertion will have a hard time adapting to this new way of life.

This doesn’t happen because they are not really trying, rather, they have spent many years in confinement and haven’t had the opportunity to apply their abilities, which is why they have lost them.

It’s possible that you’re under the impression that turtles aren’t born with the urge to hunt. If this is the case, then you may be wondering how young turtles can survive, but pet turtles never do.

The majority of animals, including humans, are truly born with particular instincts, and turtles are no exception. However, if such instincts aren’t utilized from the very beginning, they will gradually disappear over time.

Additionally, newborn turtles have a low nutritional intake need. For illustration purposes, a young turtle can subsist on nothing more than a single cricket for a full day, whereas an adult turtle can only make it halfway through the day on the same quantity of food.

Therefore, a young turtle has far less time available to it to acquire what it needs to know in order to live than a pet turtle has after it is freed.

2. Basking

To keep their bodies healthy, turtles have to bask in the sun. There is a special basking area for turtles in confinement that is fitted with UV light and a heat lamp to provide them with the precise quantity of heat and UV light they need.

The only thing a turtle has to do in order to obtain all of the necessary heat and UV is to move or swim a very short distance, and then they will be at the ideal location for them to do so.

They won’t have too much trouble with this task. On the other hand, things are not so simple for turtles that live in natural ponds or wild.

In nature, ideal basking locations are not easy to come by, a turtle may have to explore for a long before coming upon a location that is at least partly suitable for basking.

Most turtles that live in that area will never come across a habitat that compares well to the one that pet turtles have access to.

Turtles can sometimes engage in hostile behavior against one another in order to secure a space at a popular basking location since these areas are often too crowded with other animals.

When there are no available basking areas in the region, many turtles will crowd together in order to guarantee that they get the necessary amount of heat and ultraviolet radiation.

The ultraviolet (UV) light that naturally occurring basking areas in the pond provide is one benefit that sets them apart from man-made basking areas.

There is nothing that can compare to the UV light that the sun provides. This is true even if the UV light bulbs provide sufficient UV light for the turtle to remain healthy.

It doesn’t matter whether a turtle can go further without sunbathing than it could go without eating, basking is still very important for its overall health.

The quest for a new basking area for a pet turtle that didn’t have to perform anything challenging while in confinement will be quite difficult.

As a direct consequence of this, their health will begin to gradually decline.

3. Predators

A turtle that is kept as a pet never has to be concerned about being eaten by another animal. The vast majority of turtles kept as pets may, on occasion, show signs of fear when confronted by people or other animals, such as dogs or cats, that they have never seen before.

Turtles kept as pets still have the impulse to protect themselves, which may occasionally be seen when the turtle tries to attack the person who is holding it or when the turtle hides in its shell.

However, a pet turtle will not need to protect itself against predators such as snakes, raccoons, birds, eagles, or alligators. The majority of the dangers that people are trying to protect themselves against are really not dangerous at all.

A turtle that lives in the natural environment will need to be on high alert at all times since it is possible for a predator to target it at any time, and the attacker will not abandon the turtle merely because it attempted to bite it.

When a turtle is attacked by a predator, the predator is doing so because it wants to eat the turtle, thus, the turtle must at least damage the predator in order to get it to back off, or it must hide within its shell and withstand until the predator surrenders on the turtle.

Turtles in natural settings are able to camouflage themselves well to avoid being discovered by their enemies.

The only way for turtles to become proficient at hiding is for them to spend a significant amount of time in the environment attempting to avoid being discovered by predators while also exploring a variety of potential hiding locations.

If it has never been forced to defend itself against a real threat, a turtle’s chances of surviving an ambush are very low.

Pet turtles aren’t familiar with the pond water, region, and they don’t have any previous experience with hiding from dangerous animals, so hiding isn’t the greatest choice for them either.

4. Other Turtles

When they are released into a pond, many turtles who were kept as pets never had the opportunity to socialize with wild turtles, which might be problematic for their survival.

The majority of turtles only engage with one another in order to mate and compete for resources like food, basking sites, and breeding partners.

Turtles are not sociable creatures in any sense of the word but turtles do interact, and when they do so more frequently over the course of their lives, they will get good at it.

As a result, they will know how to scare the competitor so that they are not required to fight, and they will also know how and when to entice other turtles to pair with them.

Even though turtles only utilize their social skills relatively seldom, it is vitally crucial for them to have them.

When the time comes for an adult pet turtle to have a family, they will have very few opportunities to mate with another turtle, as well as no past knowledge of competing with other turtles.

You can’t expect pet turtles who have been raised together to be as excellent at socializing as wild ones, but they will be better at it than they would have been having they grown up alone in an aquarium.

Outdoor turtle pond setup guide infographic

For a printable version of this infographic, click here!

How Can A Pet Turtle Affect The Ecosystem?

In the unlikely event that a turtle kept as a pet makes it back into the natural pond, it may do a lot of damage to the ecology.

They are able to accomplish this through a wide range of aspects, some examples of which are as follows:

1. Food Chain Disruption

When living in outdoors, a turtle will consume a great number of different kinds of insects and larvae of varying sizes, water plants, decaying fish, etc.

If they consume a sufficient number of those small insects, it is possible that they will end up causing a disruption in the food chain.

This is because certain species will begin to go desperate for food and will begin searching for alternatives to eat, even though they would usually avoid it as it is too unsafe. There are a lot of different ways that this situation may turn out badly.

2. Infectious Diseases and Bacteria

Turtles kept as pets may have germs that aren’t harmful to the turtles themselves but might be harmful to other animals.

If the turtle is successful in spreading the bacterium to even just a handful of other species, then the whole region has a chance of being affected by it, and the animals will begin to experience the symptoms of the sickness.

3. Overpopulation

If a number of turtles are released into the pond and some of them are able to live long enough to have offspring, then this indicates that the offspring will be able to make it through their first few years of life.

Simply said, there is a new species inhabiting that environment, and this may lead to overpopulation, which can lead to competition for food between different species, as well as a great deal of other unfavorable outcomes.

There are many species in an environment but just a handful survive after a long period of time when a lot of other species died out.

Eliminating any one of these species has the potential to throw off the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Introducing a new one might be just as risky, if not worse than the previous ones.

Turtles are capable of adapting to an extremely wide range of environmental circumstances, but in order to do so, they must consume the feed that’s been traditionally consumed by other creatures and occupy the space that was previously occupied by those other species.

These objects have the potential to cause harm to other species of animals and ultimately result in the disappearance of those individuals in that region.

Therefore, releasing a captive turtle into its natural environment is harmful not just to the turtle but also to the surrounding ecology.

Putting A Turtle Back Into The Pond After A Short Captivity

If you locate a wounded turtle in the environment and bring it into custody for a few months until it has fully recovered, you are then able to release it back into the pond.

They have lived in natural settings for most of their lives, and although they were injured and needed to spend some time in captivity to recover, they will have no trouble returning to their usual existence in natural pond settings.

Be very cautious if you try to help a wild turtle that has been hurt since they do not adjust well to being kept in captivity, even for a short time.

Just keep in mind that you need to take them with you to the veterinarian before you can properly care for them and release them back into the pond.

Where Can I Take My Unwanted Turtle?

The idea of giving your kids a pet turtle as a means of instilling a sense of responsibility in them while also providing them with a companion of their same size may seem appealing.

However, youngsters may sometimes shirk their obligations or grow uninterested in their new pet if they are given the opportunity.

The treatment and care of a turtle have to be substantial. Their enclosures need to be cleaned on a regular basis, and they consume a significant amount of food.

There are instances when something like this is not suitable for everybody, and you might be considering releasing your pet into a new home.

There comes a time for every owner of a pet when the duty of caring for another animal becomes too great and making the decision to stop doing so may sometimes be challenging.

Unfortunately, finding a new home for a turtle is far more challenging than finding a new owner for a dog or a cat since not everyone appreciates the special qualities of these creatures. So what you can do is,

1. Adoption Of The Turtle

You may reach a point when you are unable to provide your turtle with the care and attention that it requires, in which case you should look for a new home that is more suited to the requirements of the animal.

If this is the case, you could want to inquire with some of your close friends or members of your family about whether they are up to the task of caring for a new member of their household.

Because you can rely on your own discretion and know that the person you entrust your pet will does their best to take care of it, this is sometimes the most sensible course of action.

It is always crucial to find a new home for your turtle with someone you can trust or with someone who is willing to listen to guidance and recommendations on how to take care of a turtle in the best manner possible.

In addition, you could be able to pay a visit to your old turtle whenever it is convenient to do so, as well as when it is acclimating to its new habitat, which will help it adjust to its new surroundings in a healthy and effective manner.

If you believe that giving your beloved pet turtle to a new family is the most responsible thing to do, then you should investigate the possibility of adoption.

To do this, you may search for people interested in adopting turtles by posting an ad on turtle forums, pet websites, or classifieds websites like Craigslist.

You might also put-up posters around your neighborhood or make advertisements on the internet to find someone who is looking for a pet turtle and is willing to take yours off your hands.

Just remember to use extreme caution and watch out for any dangers and find a good home for your turtle.

2. Talk To A Zoo

There are certain zoos that welcome contributions with open arms. You won’t need to be concerned about the health of your turtle since there will be professionals around who are aware of the appropriate ways to care for it.

In addition, you always have the option to go and pay a visit. If a zoo already has turtles in its care, it is common practice for the zoo to accept donations of pet turtles.

Hence, if you have tried everything else and are still unable to find your turtle, giving it to a zoo is an excellent last resort.

3. Take Back To The Store

Get in touch with the store from which you purchased your turtle and inquire about their return policy.

Some stores will accept the turtle back after a certain amount of time has passed, or at the very least, they will provide you with information regarding a store to which you can bring your turtle.

4. Ask a Vet

You also have the option of asking a veterinarian for assistance, many of them are aware of specific facilities that are happy to look after turtles. Or, at the very least, they will provide you with some pointers on where to look.

5. Organizations

There are groups out there that provide care for turtles, however, the turtles that are found in their natural habitats are the primary emphasis of these groups rather than pet turtles.

If you are having issues with your pet turtle, they will be able to assist you, but they are not a facility that can house your turtle permanently.

They would be unable of carrying out any other activities if they agreed to take in all of the turtles.

In some exceptional circumstances, they will assist you in giving away your turtle, nevertheless, as a rule, this is not something that they do.

Therefore, an organization that aids turtles are not the best place to go if you are looking to get rid of your turtle nut you will get some assistance regarding this matter.

6. Sell your turtle

You may sell your turtle to someone who is willing to take care of it if you place an ad for it on the internet.

It is recommended that you also sell the equipment and the aquarium, or at least a portion of it, to the individual in question.

They will be equipped with everything necessary to care for the turtle in this manner, and the turtle will have the ideal environment in which to thrive.

7. Turtle Rescue

There is an alternative for you to consider if you get to the point when you just cannot maintain your turtle any longer owing to any reasons, regardless of the reason.

Your turtle will be well taken care of if you bring it to the turtle rescue centers. They are a trustworthy group that will rescue your turtle, and their mission is to ensure the safety of all turtles and tortoises.

On the other hand, they provide a service in which they assist with and give information on turtle rescue facilities located inside the United States.

To identify the turtle rescue facility that is closest to you, all you need to do is select the state in which you now reside.

You may also be able to discover a local pet adoption facility in your area that is staffed by knowledgeable individuals who are familiar with providing the appropriate level of care for turtles as pets.

When you split ways with them, you will be able to go on with the peace of mind knowing they are being cared for.

If you choose to part ways with your turtle, you will first need to locate it a decent home and then carefully consider your alternatives before taking that step.

Does Petco Accept Turtles?

It is strongly recommended that you go to the Petco in your neighborhood and inquire there about the possibility of the store assuming responsibility for the turtle you no longer desire.

Petco offers an initiative for pet adoption that matches individuals who wish to adopt an animal with those who are seeking to get relieved of their pets.

If they are unable to accept your turtle themselves, they will try to find another home for it.

Will PetSmart Accept My Turtle?

On its website, PetSmart provides a resource for finding adoptable pets. Nevertheless, it is only applicable to cats and dogs.

Having said all of this, it is always a good idea to contact or stop by your neighborhood PetSmart shop to get additional details.

If they are unable to take in your turtle directly, they will most likely be capable of placing you in contact with an animal rescue facility.

Can A Red-eared Slider Be Released Into A Pond?

You should never release your pet red-eared slider into a wild environment including a pond.

The maintenance of red-eared sliders may be highly demanding, expensive, and need a significant amount of ongoing upkeep and maintenance.

To sustain a good turtle environment, you will need to provide the appropriate heating, lighting, water, and substrate.

Moreover, your turtle might fall sick which will result in extremely expensive veterinary costs if the circumstances of your turtle habitat are incorrect and particular to the kind of turtle that you have.

For these reasons, releasing of the turtle into a nearby pond is thought as the best course of action by some owners of Red-eared sliders. But this is one of the worst choices they can make for their pets.

In many places red-eared sliders can be a species that is invasive to that location. Any form of invasive species that is brought into a new location will cause chaos to the species that are already there.

If you let them loose in the surrounding waterways, you might endanger not just your own pet turtle but also the natural home and very life of our native turtle species.

Loss of habitat has a significant negative impact on turtles, which is one of the many reasons why several native species are safeguarded. Therefore, a pet red-eared turtle should not be released into a pond.

Possible Solutions

Finding the time and a suitable location for your turtle is your greatest hope at this point. This might not be a simple task, and I am aware that for certain people, it may not even be feasible at all.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. In the end, red-eared slider turtles will require an outside arrangement, which can be created with a little bit of effort and expense.  

The concept of a backyard pond is exceptional and effective as well.  A pond in the backyard with proper enclosed fencing is a wonderful idea, and it may be a gorgeous addition to the yard.

The size of the pond and water quality should be maintained at optimum for the best habituation for your pet turtle.

The practice of turtle gardening is becoming more popular, and there are a variety of web resources available to provide further information about it.

There are several advantages to housing your turtle outside, including providing it with a setting that is closer to its natural habitat, exposing it to natural sunlight (the UVB emitted by the sun is essential to the health of turtles), and reducing the amount of upkeep and care that you need to provide.

You may provide your turtles with food that is commercially available, produce a variety of plants that are edible for them, and populate your pond with feeder minnows or goldfish as one source of nourishment.

The initial effort involved in creating a turtle pond will more than pay for itself in terms of the finished product, which may even increase the value of your property.


After a period, turtles may become a hassle for those who do not have the resources necessary to properly care for them, such as time, space, or money.

Putting your turtle into a natural pond in the wild is never a good idea for a variety of reasons, but there are other, more compassionate, and effective methods to handle the situation.

Realize that it is unlawful, immoral, and may do major harm to the local fauna in your region if you just “let go” your turtle into the pond.

The vast majority of turtles that are discharged into the pond will perish, and the remainder may put native turtles at a disadvantage when competing for habitat and food.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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