Hi!!! and thanks for your help!!!!
    I live in the state of Ohio and have a bait & tackle shop.  We have a 650 gallon display tank that the kids LOVE!!!  
    We were checked by the DNR of Ohio and they said that we are not allowed to have turtles without a permit.  I can not find anywhere that we have to have them permitted.  They also told me that they will not give us a permit to keep them.  Is this legal and true?  We DO NOT sell the turtles, they are strictly our pets.
We have 8 turtles that are all above 7 inches and can hand feed them, all besides Snappy the snapping turtle.  We have red ear sliders, regular sliders, paint turtles and a snapping turtle.
We take very good care of them and they are fed regularly.
    I am trying to save my turtles lives because they told my daughter that they would probably destroy them which seems like a crime to me.
    I would GREATLY appreciate and information that you can give me.

Thanks for your time,

Follow up at bottom

You live in a much more liberal state, which almost everything native is regulated. There is quite the possibility that if these turtles have been taken from the wild, that they are subject to confiscation if you do not have permits to take or trap, or to display and can't prove the origin. I need to know exactly what species. There is no such thing as a "regular" slider. I need to know that species. Is it a Yellow Belly? The Painted Turtles it depends on which subspecies. The snapping turtle, depends on if it's native because there are two species. I need to know if it's a Common or an Alligator. Pictures are going to be needed. The Red Eared Sliders they can't do anything about unless you have a local ordinance preventing you from owning them in city limits, because RES turtles are commonly sold in the pet trade in almost every state and are one of the least regulated as long as they are over 4 inches. They pretty much can't do anything about those otherwise unless they can prove you took them from public lands without a collection permit. But I will check the regulations and get back to you. In the meantime I also need to know what action they took. Obviously they didn't confiscate them at the time, but did they cite you and state that you had "x" amount of time to get rid of them or what?

Even if this is a case of neglect or unlawful sales or trapping, etc...I still by default do not trust any DNR agency and I personally don't work with them if I don't have to, I deal only with other rescuers and wildlife rehabilitators. So, what I suggest for protection of the turtles is that you get them out of plain view if you can and set them up elsewhere or transfer them off the property for a while if possible to a rescue or something, and do not allow DNR or any other government agent on the premises for purposes of search WITHOUT A WARRANT. They have zero power to search places out of the public space and public eye unless they have a warrant, with the exception of if you have a permit. The irony is that accepting a permit is accepting and agreeing to being searched without a warrant, so that might not be the best idea. At this point, if it's out of plain view, they need a warrant, and the more time that goes by the info that you had them there goes stale and they can only use the info they have to obtain a warrant for a few days following, or it's considered stale information for the affidavit.

Get back to me with more details on how this went down and more specifics on the species and what they told you. The fact they didn't take them means they may be looking to get a warrant to seize them and they're checking their legal dept too so if you can relocate those turtles now until it's sorted out then that's what I suggest first of all and fight the legal battle after the turtles are safely out of the way where they can seize them. If they're not on the property they can't do anything to you even if the have a warrant. If they are on the property but out of the public areas, then they can't search unless they DO have a warrant. I advise under no circumstances allow them to pilfer about anywhere you wouldn't let the public unless they have a warrant.


Actually, this information was all too easy to find and came up first in search results. Their rules are just a bit convoluted. Actually, these are some pretty fucked up rules. About the worst I have ever seen...


Bottom line is this as I read it, and I have experience -

You don't need any permit to have the snapping turtle, you only need a fishing license IF you took it from the wild in OH. O.A.C. 1501:31-13-05. You can't *legally take them from the wild even with a fishing license though unless they are 13 inches carapace length or larger. So, it would behoove you to claim the snapper belongs to someone who already had a fishing license or a person under the age of 17, or to claim it was taken from another state where it is legal to take them. If you didn't and you took him from the wild, then they could possibly seize it, whereby he may be euthanized. They won't give you a permit for something after the fact, so don't even bother.

You need a propagation permit to possess the Red Eared Sliders, and if you have Midland Painted Turtles, IF you got them from the wild and are over age 17, unless you are an adult and you got them from out of state legally from a pet store or where it is legal to take them from the wild, and then you can only have 4 or less. Having more than 4 of each species requires a permit according to the state of Ohio. So, my advice is that unless you've talked to them already and blown the lid, then "Then 4 or less red eared sliders and midland painted turtles belong to anyone in your household other than you, who is under age 17, and they came from a pet store, out of state." That would be my line on that.

I still don't know what "regular sliders" means. There's no such language so I need to know species definitively, or if you got them from the wild in OH that means they are native species and they are subject to permit too if they are possessed by someone over age 17 and there are more than 4 of them. If they are a Yellow Bellied Sliders, then those aren't native and not subject to requiring a propagation permit or fishing license, and you can have as many as you want.


Ohio requires they ALL be implanted with a chip after they reach a certain size.  

This is really the most jacked up shit I've ever read. Their laws are some of the most convoluted open to interpretation for vagueness that I have ever seen. Even California isn't that friggin bad! My real advice, what I would do, instead of arguing with these jackbooted government thugs and morons who are looking to screw with citizens with their abusive police powers for anything and everything, is to simply remove the turtles and put them on completely private property where they cannot be visible from the road or driveway, and if they ask about it, tell them that you transferred them to someone out of state. End of story, and I would not answer a single question more, NOT ONE. My answer would be "I make no further statements without a lawyer". At that point they have to get a warrant and charge you with something, and you DO NOT have to consent to a search of private property without a warrant and you DO NOT have to answer any questions of them, I don't care who they are. You have the right to say nothing to them and to ask them to leave or else you will file a complaint for trespass. Without a warrant or your having a permit from them already, they can't be there unless you allow them to be there. You don't have to allow them there or talk to them, even if they bring cops. That's your right. You have the right to not answer any questions or make any statements, and you have the right to close your establishment to anyone you do not wish to be there, and unless they have a warrant, they can't override that. I'm a former cop who has studied law for many years and successfully defended myself many times. I know exactly what I'm talking about. Don't be intimidated, tell them off and stand on your rights. If they smell weakness or that you will give a little more info to incriminate yourself if you are intimidated, they will use that against you. They will never do anything to help you if their lips are moving. They are only looking to charge you with something and squeeze some fines out of you. Make them prove their case - don't HAND IT to them by running your mouth or keeping the turtles there on property or in plain view. Above all else I am a liberty advocate and while I'd be pretty pissed if you are just taking crap from the wild and putting it in a damn tank to show off like ornaments, I also hate intrusive government and I've had enough of them. They have rules to follow too, so if they want to nitpick, then they need to be nitpicked to follow the rules as well, and for me, that means I don't say jack shit to them and I don't let them walk around my place to "have a look" unless they have a warrant.  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




YOU WILL GET A REJECTION OF YOUR QUESTION IF YOU FAIL TO FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO QUESTIONER IN FULL!!. I am primarily here to assist with health concerns. I am here for the more difficult questions. Not for questions that you could research and easily find the answer yourself. I have stringent standards that you provide DETAILED and RELEVANT background history on your pet before you ask me ANY question about it other than GENDER or ID. The requested information is in the instructions to questioner. Failure to answer EACH of those questions to provide that background will result in your question being REJECTED. I can answer questions related reptile husbandry, identification (esp. in Texas and the SW), legal aspects, and intermediate-advanced level medical care. I am the director of Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue (TX), a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in reptiles, a founding member of The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation, a subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service, wikivet.net, lafebervet.com, and a Dept of State Health Services certified animal control instructor (CE) for reptile handling. I do most of my own veterinary care in-house. I am most experienced in Chelonia (turtles&torts) with box turtles and common smaller tortoises; and in Squamata (lizards & snakes) with everything from Anoles, Geckos, Beardies, and Monitors, to venomous snakes. I am most known for my expertise with horned lizards (Phrynosoma). With snakes, my primary expertise is in Crotalids (rattlesnakes), but I can answer a broad range of questions about various species. I am not aware of any reptile related question, in general, that I would not be able to provide some reasonable answer for. I have a direct style and may tell you something you did not want to hear; but the welfare of the animal comes first with me, and I will always reflect that position in my answer.


I am an amateur herpetologist, with 20+ years experience in reptiles. I am a reptile rescuer and subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service. I have medical and scientific resources available, and have had to learn herp medical care over the years. I am not a vet, but I read from the same materials and have had to correct a few in the past, as it related to reptiles. My specific area of expertise is in Chelonians ( primary- Box Turtles ), Phrynosoma ( Horned Lizards ), and Crotalids ( primary- Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes ); though I have some knowledge and/or experience also with aquatic turtles ( primary- Red Eared Sliders ), tortoises ( primary-Sulcata and Horsfieldii ), monitors ( primary- Savannah ), many other smaller lizards, and with some colubrid snakes.

I am currently the caretaker of 5 Horned Lizards, 22 Box Turtles, 18 aquatic turtles, 7 fire Bellied Toads, 3 Green Iguanas, 1 Spiny Lizard, 1 Bullsnake, 5 Eastern Ratsnakes, 4 Great Plains x Eastern Ratsnakes, 1 Albino Great Plains Ratsnake, 1 Massasauga Rattlesnake, 1 Leopard Gecko, 7 Fox Squirrels, 2 Deer Mice, 2 Hispid Cotton Rats, 3 Merriam's Pocket Mice, 1 Cotton-Tail, 1 Former racing pigeon, and 1 Budgie. Previously: Leopard Geckos, Golden Gecko, African White-Spotted Wall Gecko, Mediterranean Geckos, Bahama Anoles, Ca. Kingsnake, Brazilian Rainbow Boa, Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Russian Tortoise, Savannah Monitor, and Eastern Cotton-tail rabbits.


Co-Founder & Director: Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue http://wichitafallsreptilerescue.webs.com http://facebook.com/reptilerescue

Founder: The Society for Horned Lizard Preservationhttp://facebook.com/hornedlizards

LafeberVet.com contributor. The Horned Lizard Husbandry Manual - self published 75 pages of care information on genus Phrynosoma.

Wikipedia entry "Horned Lizards" - contributed to a majority of the content.

allexperts.com, and various reptile related forums and email lists under the handles "fireside3" and PhrynosomaTexas".

My 20+ yrs of hands-on field, rehabilitation, and captive husbandry experience beats a PhD any day of the week. I am also a state accredited animal control instructor for reptile handling.

Past/Present Clients

I was requested to provide my care manual on the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), for the Montreal zoo. My manual is also used by several other zoological institutions in N. America. I also teach reptile education to summer camps, and instruct wildlife rehabilitators on live saving and rehab techniques with reptiles.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.