How To Catch A Pond Turtle? [Traps, Baits, Tips]

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

Do you have a turtle living in your pond or swimming pool?  Or a turtle has made its home in your pond? If you responded yes to any of these inquiries, it is high time that you learned how to capture a turtle that might come in handy.

Catching pond turtles may be done in a number of distinct ways, such as by putting up traps or using bait and line techniques. The best way to do it depends on how big the pond is, how many turtles you want to catch, and how much time you want to invest.

Turtles are adorable creatures that might be a delightful discovery in your pond. Catching turtles and keeping them as pets is a hobby for some individuals. However, if not carried out with the appropriate level of understanding, this practice may become harmful to their health and cruel.

This article shows how to capture one and handle him without causing him any damage. It also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of including these animals as part of the ecology of your backyard pond. So then, let’s check into that, shall we?

How To Locate A Turtle?

If you reside in a location with only a few ponds, you will have no trouble finding turtles lurking in the rocky crevices that are found within the pond.

When it is relatively dry and the level of water is just slightly above ground level, turtles like lounging just on the outskirts of the water to bask in the sun.

Different Ways To Catch A Pond Turtle

There are a few different approaches one might use while trying to capture turtles within a pond. Bait and line is an efficient approach that makes use of drop lines and protects the bait from being consumed by fish by placing it inside tiny cans.

When it comes to removing turtles from a pond used for fish or animals, the most effective and convenient option is to use traps. Some simple and efficient ways to catch turtles are as follows:

1. By Digging A Hole

In this approach, you will need to create a hole in the ground next to the turtle which you may have found.

When you are digging the hole, it should be around ten inches deep, ten inches broad, and have extremely steep edges so that the turtle cannot climb out.

Put a substantial quantity of bait all around the trap so that the turtle can find it and enter.  Nevertheless, you must not overflow the hole by doing so.

If you want, you may use crushed lettuce leaves instead of whole ones and sprinkle a few of the shreds here and there throughout the trap. 

Now, you should let the turtle graze on the leaves that are around the hole and will struggle to resist the urge to grab the leaves within it.

However, given that there is no assurance that it would reach out for the remainder of the bait, it may as well disregard it.

But in this way, you will most likely be able to catch a turtle.

2. Bait And Line

Drop lines, in which the bait is contained inside tiny cans to prevent it from being consumed by fish, is another approach.

Cans for soft drinks work the best, but any small-sized container will do. Take off the whole top of the can, then make a little hole in the center of the can’s base.

You should start with the free end of the fishing line facing downwards within the container.

Attach a treble hook to the end of the line, then use bits of fish or other types of flesh to bait it. Put the bait into the water, then secure the other end of the line to a branch or a sturdy root. 

To capture slider turtles, alter the length of the string so that the bait will be underneath the surface water.  The can will slide over the bait and provide protection from any fish that could bite it.

Turtles will insert their heads inside the container, where they will retrieve the bait. This procedure produces good results but takes a lot of time.

Now, let’s take a look at how to create various kinds of traps, as well as the alternatives you have for moving them, as well as some useful advice you should be aware of.

How To Make A Turtle Trap?

The kind of pond turtles that you are attempting to catch will determine the kind of turtle trap that you should employ.

You will primarily have access to two types of turtle traps- those that are submerged in water and those that are floating or surface-based.

To catch snappers and soft-shell turtles, you’ll need traps that are submerged. Traps that are placed on the surface or float in water are the most successful for catching slider turtles and other species of turtles that sunbathe.

1. Underwater Or Submerged Traps 

Wire Basket Traps

The only difference between these traps and fish baskets is the size of the metal mesh and the form and size of the hole.

The shape of the tunnel should be that of an oval, with the section that is the broadest running parallel to the base of the pond. The hole needs to be big enough so that even large size turtles may squeeze through it.

The length of the basket itself should be between three and four feet, and the width should be around two feet. Wire with a large gauge that has been soldered together is a suitable material to utilize.

For turtles of varying sizes, mesh sizes may be adjusted to accommodate them. Welded wire with mesh sizes ranging from one-quarter inch to two inches works extremely well in the typical pond.

To make it easier to remove turtles and any fish that could have been trapped by mistake, a door measuring between 12 and 18 inches square must be carved into the side of the trap that is across the funnel.

Clipping the wire on three of the door’s sides is a straightforward method for building this door. After that, the opening may be wired shut. In most cases, the cross-section of a wire basket trap is oval-shaped.

This shape helps to keep the traps from rolling away and makes it simple to locate them again. You may identify the location of your traps by floating a float on a sturdy rope or tying them to the bank.

Slat Traps

Slat traps are generally built by attaching laths or lattice timber to a frame built from 2x2s at intervals of about 2 inches from one another.

There is no need that the exterior measurements of the trap to be exact, nevertheless, 4 feet in length, 3 feet in width, and 2 feet in depth is a practical size.

A smaller trap is more difficult to correctly set up, while a bigger one is cumbersome and difficult to manipulate because of its weight.

Typically, the two ends of the trap will each have a funnel created on them. The extraction of turtles from the trap is made simple by the presence of a doorway or a part of the top that can be removed.

The trap ought to be loaded down in order to stop it from moving, and it ought to be labeled with a buoy in order to make it less difficult to retrieve it.

2. Surface Or Floating Traps

Log Traps

In most cases, they are crafted from substantial wooden boards or shorter logs measuring around 4 feet in length. Constructing a framework out of 2x4s or 2x6s, 20-penny nails are hammered into the boards at 4-inch intervals.

Approximately two inches of these nails will be driven into the middle of the trap. A huge basket with a depth of around 2 feet may be fashioned out of netting, cloth, or wire.

After that, a 2×6 frame is attached to the basket and secured with screws. For further stability, logs or poles are attached to the structure.

Turtles will climb up on the logs to bask in the sun, and while they do so, some of them may accidentally fall into the trap. They will be unable to climb back out of the trap since it is filled with nails.

To enhance the number of animals captured, bait may be hung in the trap’s central chamber.

Tiltboard Traps

The initial step in constructing them involves constructing a frame out of 2x4s or 2x2s. Lumber that has been creosoted or treated with Penta may remain used for a number of years.

It does not matter how big the trap is, but if you want something manageable that can yet hold a lot of turtles, a trap that is four ft long, four ft wide, and four ft deep is ideal.

Cloth, netting, or wire may be used to cover the frame, with the exception of the top. Following the attachment of the wire, the tilt boards are next put in place.

These boards are often constructed out of 1 x 6’s that have been linked in such a way that they may easily tilt or spin. Drilling a hole in the middle is one technique to guarantee that this will happen.

After that, twenty penny nails are hammered through the framework so that they may be inserted into the holes in the tiltboards.

It is required to add a tiny weight to the board in order to guarantee that it will generally stay level.

Which Trap To Use?

  • The turtles may be successfully captured using one of the two underwater traps. Since the wire trap weighs less overall, it is simpler and quicker to remove and relocate.
  • In order to extend the useful life of slat traps and wire traps, you should treat them with a preservative. It is very necessary to bait underwater traps in order to be successful.
  • It does not matter what sort of bait you use. It is best practice to place the bait in cans with holes punched in them and hang them from the tip of the trap. The opening allows the smell of the bait to escape while yet preventing the bait from being washed away.
  • Surface traps are particularly successful in ponds that have a limited number of islands, floating logs, or stumps.
  • Tiltboard traps are more effective than log traps due to the fact that log traps get waterlogged over time, requiring the operator to remove the trap from the pond so that it can dry out.

What Is The Best Bait For Turtles?

The ability of the bait to successfully attract turtles is typically a critical factor in determining how effective a turtle trap will be in catching a turtle.

There are many different kinds of turtle traps and almost all of them need the correct bait. The bait that is used should mostly consist of a variety of cuts of meat, whether they are living or dead.


Live trap bait is generally made up of fish, which is an important part of a turtle’s meal and it’s also the most successful.

Bluegill, tiny bass, or minnows may be used to bait a living turtle trap by inserting hooks into them or fastening their fins with a fishing line and then connecting them to the trap or a dock.

Another simple and affordable way to get bait for a live trap is to use catfish heads or other bits and pieces of fish.

Beef Cuts

Another kind of meat that may be found in live turtle traps is beef cuts in various cuts. In general, tougher beef cuts have a longer shelf life in water compared to more tender pieces of beef or ground beef.

To entice the turtles, make use of less costly portions of meat, such as the neck. You might likely get leftovers from the neighborhood butcher shop if you ask nicely.

When there are already fish eating on the bait, the tougher chunks of meat will also last for a longer period of time.


In a live turtle trap, if there is no meat available, a variety of other types of vegetables may be used as bait instead.

Although lettuce is often used as a vegetable bait, it has been shown that other kinds of greens, such as spinach and kale, are as effective.

Remaining vegetables from meals may be utilized as a free supply of bait for turtles, however, turtles may reject food that is heavily seasoned.

Vegetables have a lower risk of being consumed by fish in the water, and contrary to popular belief, turtles are not nearly as attracted to them as they are to meat.


Worms may not be as effective as fish or beef slices when it comes to capturing turtles, nonetheless, they are an inexpensive source of bait that is also easily accessible.

When fishermen reel in their catch, they often bring in turtles instead of the worm that was on their hook.

A bait bag may be used to enclose worms, which will prevent fish from eating the worms before the turtle is able to locate the trap.

What Is The Best Time To Catch Turtles?

Because pond turtles hibernate over the winter months, the best time to capture them is in the summer when they are most active.

In contrast, the morning before it becomes too hot when the sun first rises during the summer is when one has the highest chance of capturing turtles.

However, the appropriate time for capturing may also need periods of time throughout the nighttime, depending on the kind of trap that is utilized or the approach that is followed.

How To Relocate Turtles?

After you have successfully captured the turtles who are living in your pond, it is necessary to appropriately move them. Unfortunately, you can’t simply drive over to a nearby stream, get out of the car, and throw the turtle in there like it’s nothing.

To begin, you will need to get in touch with the local conservation office or the Department of Wildlife and inform them of your intentions to move the turtles to a new location.

Depending on the state in which you reside, you may be required to get a permit before relocating the animals that are causing a nuisance.

Second, moving turtles to a new location might have several very negative effects:

  • When abruptly moved to a new area, turtles may experience fear and confusion due to the change in their surroundings. They could have a hard time locating food and staying secure from potential enemies.
  • When new turtles are brought into an area that is already inhabited by existing turtles, there is a greater chance that there will be fierce competition for available food sources.
  • In addition to this, you run the risk of spreading illnesses from one community of turtles to another without even realizing it.

There is the possibility of relocating turtles, but, before making any attempts to do so on your own, it is recommended that you consult with an expert at your community’s conservation agency.

They ought to be ready to aid you in finding new housing for your turtles and could have prior expertise in different situations of this kind.

What Size Of Hooks For Catching Turtles?

The supplies that are required for turtle catching are not very expensive and may be found without much difficulty. You are going to need some sharp fishing hooks, a nylon rope, some rubber boots, and a knife in order to get started capturing turtles.

The length of the Hooks should be at least three and a half inches (3½), and there must be at least an inch spacing between them. And made sure that they are sharp.

Before being used, even brand new hooks that have just been removed from their packaging should be sharpened.

However, depending on the size of the bulk of the catches, some individuals may find that a 4x strong 5/0 to 8/0 Gamakatsu, Mustad, or circle hook is more suitable for their needs.

Can A Turtle Survive A Fish Hook?

It is possible for any species of turtle to get hooked when fishing in areas frequented by fishermen, however, snapping turtles tend to be caught on hooks more often than other types of turtles.

This is likely due to the fact that snapping turtles are the largest, most widespread, and most actively feeding species of turtle.

If a hook is left in a turtle and it is not removed, the turtle might die. There are a variety of measures that may be implemented to lessen the harm that is caused by fishing hooks to turtles.

When fishing in locations with big turtle populations, it is a good idea to use hooks that do not have barbs.

If a turtle gets accidentally hooked, removing the barbless hook is much simpler.

Instead of merely ripping the line and throwing away the hook when the fishing hook gets caught on some plants, one should make an effort to extract the hook.

How To Hold The Turtle After Catching It?

It is important to ensure that you are holding the turtle around its central area while you are holding it. Also, refrain from putting your fingers anywhere near his limbs.

Be wary because, in addition to having the ability to bite, these creatures may surprise you by having unexpectedly massive and strong claws that are tough enough to do you injury.

Tips That Will Help To Catch Turtles

The following are a few helpful tips that will guide you through the process of catching a turtle:

  • If this is your first time trying to capture the turtle and you don’t have much time, all you have to do is set the trap alone for a few days.
  • Because of the possibility that other creatures may consume the bait, each effort may need some additional time. If you are good at what you do, ultimately it will work out for you.
  • If you are not very bold around turtles, you should protect your hands by wearing snow gloves or gardening gloves so that you do not come into close touch with the turtle. This is also the most reliable method for protecting oneself from getting scratched or bitten.
  • Because of this, there are a few different types of traps that may be used to capture them. Do some study and get familiar with the species of turtles that are native to your region before you make an effort to trap one.

Are Turtles Beneficial to Pond?

The vast majority of turtle species are quite safe for ponds and, in some instances, may even be helpful to the environment of your pond. The majority of the time, it is recommended to just let them alone.

A small number of turtles in your pond, particularly slider turtles, may actually be beneficial to the environment of your pond.

Moreover, they contribute to its cleanliness while having only a marginal influence on the physical life in your pond.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the positive aspects associated with keeping turtles in a pond.

  • Turtles are omnivorous organisms, meaning that they consume both plants and fishes that are ill or have died.
  • Even though they are believed to be predators, snapping turtles will often choose to consume sick or dead fishes than living ones. This is mostly due to the fact that fish are far nimbler and quicker in the water compared to turtles.
  • Facilitates the cleanliness of your pond and reduces the danger of diseases caused by decaying meat.
  • Because they like eating specific kinds of weeds that may cause problems in ponds, turtles can also contribute to the process of controlling underwater weeds.
  • When kept in reasonable numbers, turtles have relatively little effect on the ecological community of your pond.
  • There is no proof that having a modest number of turtles would cause your fish to hunger, despite the fact that they may fight the fish for food (pests, plants, and so on).
  • Turtles are not only fascinating to see, but they also provide a certain character to every pond.

Are Turtles Detrimental To Ponds?

Turtles can provide certain advantages to the ecosystem, but when there are too many of them in a pond or lake, they may well be a problem.

There are several different reasons why some turtles have the potential to be harmful. So let’s take a more in-depth look at the reasons why turtles aren’t always good for ponds.

  • People’s primary concern about turtles is that they have a high rate of reproduction and may rapidly lead to an overpopulation of a relatively small pond in a matter of years.
  • Overpopulation can cause problems with the pond’s water quality.
  • If you keep fish in your pond for aesthetic purposes, such as goldfish or koi, the possibility that some species of turtles may consume live fish is a potential problem.
  • They will also consume any aquatic vegetation that you may have in your pond if they find the opportunity.
  • when snapping turtles are irritated, even unintentionally, they may become highly violent.
  • In addition, the bites of the snapping have the potential to inflict significant injuries to anybody who is in or near the pond.
  • Salmonella is one of the infections that turtles are capable of passing on to people.

To reiterate, in most circumstances, it is perfectly acceptable and even good to leave the turtles alone.

However, there are certain situations in which turtles become a nuisance and need to be managed or caught. Let’s get some instruction on how to accomplish things the right way.

Concluding Thoughts

One of the most prevalent types of turtles found on the continent of North America is the pond turtle.

There are around 95 distinct species of turtles that belong to the family Emydidae, however, there are only a few kinds of turtles that are common enough to be found in ponds or to be kept as pets and added to ponds.

Turtles are adorable creatures that might be a delightful discovery in your pond. However, despite the fact that they may be maintained as pets, they can also be a nuisance and cause havoc in more ways than one.

You will need an efficient method to capture the pond turtles in your pond, regardless of whether you see them as useful or detrimental to your pond’s ecosystem.

Instead of bringing the turtle inside with you, it is strongly recommended that you leave it in its natural environment where it belongs.

If it seems content with its current dwelling, there’s no need to move it. A turtle may be captured in an area where its life is at risk, such as an industrialized region.

And that’s all there is to how to catch a turtle.

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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