Red-eared sliders are among the most frequently surrendered or abandoned pets in the United States and elsewhere. When quarter-sized hatchlings grow into dinner plate-sized giants, unfortunately, these turtles quickly outgrow their welcome — leading to questions like “where can I donate my red-eared slider turtles?”
That being said, we also know that no pet owner ever wants to give away his beloved pet for no reason. These turtles can live many decades and require hundreds or thousands of dollars in care and treatment.
You know your turtle and your situation the best. So, if you are thinking of placing your turtle in someone else’s care, that’s entirely up to you. However, there are several things you need to consider.
When parting ways with a Red-eared slider, it’s not just about emotional consequences but environmental ones too. For instance, if released to the wild, these ‘invasive species” carry the potential to wipe out the entire native turtle population.
So, in this blog, we will discuss the potential and most suitable options available to you to donate your Red-eared Slider.
Where Can I Donate My Red-Eared Slider Turtles?
When giving away your Red-eared Slider, your best bet would be a friend or family member who is willing and capable of adopting a pet turtle. If that’s not possible, you can contact the local zoo or one of several reptile rescue centers in your state and make a request.
Let’s weigh all of these options in detail below.
Friends Or Families That Will Love Your Pet The Way You Do
Okay, this probably wasn’t the answer you were looking for. And I’m sure you have already toyed with the idea before, but hear me out.
First thing, giving your turtle to a capable friend or family member who can welcome him with open arms will provide you with the emotional closure you need. Second, it will also take the burden off the shoulders of reptile rescue centers already working over their capacities.
The truth is that once rescued or adopted, Red-eared sliders have only a tiny chance of finding a second home. So, if you can find someone you know who is willing and experienced enough to raise these turtles, it’s best to go down that road.
However, it’s critical to rightly assess the prospective owner’s ability and readiness to welcome a Red-eared slider. Do you think he is sound financially and emotionally to raise a turtle? Is his house environment favorable enough?
Once you give away the pet, make a point to enquire about him often during the first few weeks or months. You can also ask for some photos and videos. But you need to make these requests clear before handing the turtle so they don’t get annoyed with your frequent inquiries later.
A Nearby Zoo Or Park With Turtles In Care
Giving away your turtle to a local zoo or part may seem far-fetched, but there’s no harm in trying. If successful, this is great for your Red-eared Slider, too – who can live and mingle with fellow turtles and won’t have to adapt to drastic environmental changes.
In many states across the US, zoos and local animal parks are kind enough to accept a turtle if they’re able to take care of it. You can always ring in and explain your situation. However, there’s also a legal side to giving your turtle away like this, I believe. If all goes well, you will have to complete some paperwork before giving away your pet.
Reptile Rescue and Adoption Centers
Luckily, there are several rescue and adoption centers for reptiles in the US that are well-equipped with infrastructures, resources, and trained staff to give your Red-eared Slider a safe and secure life.
Note that some of these centers house all kinds of animals, some just house reptiles, and some exclusively run for turtles. To give your pet away, you will need to undergo some paperwork and some preliminary screenings to ensure that you are the rightful owner or donor.
This page here has an extensive list of turtle rescue centers dotted across all US states.
One thing to note: You should never go unannounced. Make sure to call, explain your situation, and book an appointment first.
Local Pet Stores
Many fish and pet stores will often adopt your Red-eared Slider for a small amount of fee. For these turtles, the abandonment rate is high, but so is the buying and selling rate. Every year, millions of Sliders are bred commercially for the pet trade.
So, there’s a good chance that your local pet store will take in your pet. Juveniles and babies often get accepted readily, but adults have slimmer chances.
Nonetheless, you must gauge the buyer store’s intention and capacity once again.
We cannot rule out the possibility of your turtle being exploited for breeding purposes and being abandoned into the wild later. Confirm that the store in question is a reliable one, has good intentions, and can give you updates on the turtle’s wellbeing in the future.
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Can I Leave My Red-Eared Slider Into The Wild?
Do you know in Mid-Atlantic states like New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington, it’s illegal to release a Slider turtle into the wild? This reckless action can land you in legal trouble. Environmentally, too, this can prove disastrous to the local ecosystem. So, the answer is no. You cannot and should not leave your turtle in the wild.
By the time the Red-eared Slider is abandoned or dumped to an unknown location, he will be highly stressed, physically exhausted, and unable to survive. In most cases, they lose their life to starvation, cold, and predation within a few days of abandonment.
In some cases, the pet may survive the adversity and even reproduce to establish self-sustaining bales. But that’s far from good news. This will inevitably have devastating consequences for the native wildlife species.
Why? Because Red-eared sliders are notorious for being effective invaders. They reach sexual maturity quite early and have a long fecundity period. And since they get quite large (10-12″), they often establish dominance over basking spots, resources, and food wherever they go.
In several states like California, Oregon, and Washington, Sliders have successfully invaded and replaced native turtle populations.
And lastly, releasing pet turtles raised in captivity into the wild can lead to an outbreak of diseases that wild turtles are unaware of and incapable of fighting.
Two Options To Try Before Donating Your Red-Eared Slider
If there’s even a tiny chance that you can keep your Slider turtle with yourself, I will request you to give it your 100%. Often, all you need is a little more time and money. As a result, you get to experience a beautiful interspecies friendship for a good part of your life.
Sliders are ultimately outdoor turtles. You can create an outdoor habitat for easier care. You can also assess the equipment and habitats’ current situation and see if any upgrades or changes can help you out.
Relocate Red-Eared Slider To Outdoor Habitat
Sliders best enjoy fenced-in backyard ponds of at least 300 gallons dug below frost level. I know it’s not easy and sometimes impossible for some folks, but I would strongly suggest shifting it to an outdoor pond if you have space and money. It doesn’t have to be too fancy.
This way, you don’t have to care about 10 different basking lights. He will get all the light and UVB he needs directly from the sun. You can also plant a few edible plants and stock the pond with minnows and goldfish for food.
The initial effort and labor cost may seem like too much, but I can guarantee that it’s well worth the end result.
Consider Equipment Changes
If you think you cannot give your pet Slider a good quality of life, you can consider switching to larger tanks if an outdoor pond isn’t possible. And if the tank gets too dirty too often, maybe it’s time to invest in a better filter.
The one I use for my turtle is from Fluval, a brand I trust.
It’s suitable for tanks up to 400 gallons and is built with Smart Pump Technology for efficient multi-stage filtrations. Works Like a charm!
A good quality Siphon kit can also make your life a lot easier by removing all the gunks and debris from the substrate.
Conclusion On Where Can I Donate My Red-Eared Slider Turtles
Where can I donate my Red-eared Slider turtles – this is a question thousands of reptile pet parents ask every year. After all, owning a turtle is a big commitment for decades of your life.
So, if you think you are unable to provide your Slider with a loving home anymore due to any reason, your best bet would be a turtle-loving friend or family member. You can also donate him to a reptile rescue center in your state or give him away to a trusty local pet store.
Just make sure that you don’t release your turtle into the wild since it can have ravaging impacts on both the Slider and the region’s native turtle population. It can even lead you to legal problems!