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Turtles/Painted Turtle Hatchling Found Keep/Release?


Hi, I was in the city visiting my brother this morning when I found a painted turtle hatchling in his walkway. There are no ponds/lakes around where he lives. So I was shocked to see it. I live on a pond where there are both painted turtles and snappers. I don't know whether I should just release it into the pond with the other wildlife--or if it would have better chances of survival if I took care of it for awhile, so it could grow bigger, and then release it. Any advice on the matter of what to do with the turtle so its chances of survival are optimized would be very helpful.

I would release it into the pond as soon as possible.  Once a turtle has been in captivity, it can't be released back to the wild because there is a risk of transmitting foreign pathogens to the wild population, so if you keep it you won't be able to release it later..  Survival is always a risk, but it's a risk for the bigger turtles as well, and they need the gene pool to keep their population healthy.  In addition, it's better for a hatchling to have the entire summer to acclimate itself and grow, rather than to release it at the end of summer when it will need to adjust before winter begins.  So best to release it now, and thank you for wanting to do what's best for it!


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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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