Frequently Asked Questions

+ Do you adopt out any of the captive-bred turtles and tortoises your animals produce?

First, thanks for your interest in adopting some of our animals. We do adopt out captive bred animals from time to time. The best way to be considered for these animals is to fill out an adoption recipient profile form on our website.

Adoptions are seasonal and vary depending on our breeding success. Please realize that while we would love to accommodate every request for pictures and information, we realistically cannot answer every email or call. We do our best to take representative photos of each individual or species. Adoptions from our center go a long way to supporting turtle and tortoise conservation either at our breeding center or in the field with one of our various projects around the world. 100% of our adoption fees go into these programs.

+ Where can I find out about career opportunities at The Turtle Conservancy?

Please visit our careers page: click here

+ Do you have internship or volunteer opportunities?

Yes, please scroll down to the internship section of our Conservation Center to download and fill out the appropriate application.

+ How can I donate to the Turtle Conservancy?

  • You can give on our donation page
  • You can also mail your donation to our New York City Headquarters: Turtle Conservancy, 49 Bleecker Street, Suite 601, New York, NY 10012

+ Are my donations tax deductible? What is the minimum amount?

Yes, the Turtle Conservancy is a registered 501(c)(3) organization (20-2899240) and all donations are tax deductible. We only require a minimum amount for credit card donations.

+ I can't donate money at this time, but would like to make a non-cash contribution to the TC.

Contributions other than cash are still tax-deductible. You must be able to substantiate the fair market value of the goods or property donated, plus keep any written acknowledgements of the gift receipt.

+ What kind of non-cash donations could I make?

Please contact us at info@turtleconservancy.org about in-kind donations to make sure they are items we will put to good use.

+ Can I dedicate my donation in memory of someone or make a donation on behalf of a person?

Yes, currently there is a special instructions section when you donate that allows you to specify any details gift details.

+ Why do you require a minimum donation amount of $10?

Credit card companies charge us processing fees on online donations made to the Turtle Conservancy. We don’t want donors’ well-intended gift to be offset by processing fees.

+ I am a monthly donor. When will I receive a year-end statement?

Our monthly donors will receive a tax letter in the beginning of the new year outlining their total contributions from the previous year.

+ How do I report illegal activity?

Contact your local U.S. Fish and Wildlife office. There is a list of offices on their website.

+ What do I do if I find a tortoise or turtle?

It is illegal to touch, disturb, harass, harm, poach, or bother most native turtles and tortoises in any way. Let them be wild. If it is in harms way, you can carefully move it to a safer area (ie: off of the road in the direction it was crossing), but otherwise, the turtle/tortoise should be left alone.

The most common turtles and tortoises we help identify in the United States are the following:

Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) more ⇾

Russian tortoise (Testudo horsfieldii) more ⇾

African Spurred Tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata) more ⇾

Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) more ⇾

Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis) more ⇾

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) more ⇾

It is important to recognize that these species can look different as they grow, so be sure to google different ages to help you identify any turtle or tortoise. Also, if it is a wild turtle, please do not take it home. The best thing to do is to leave it alone, or if it’s in harm’s way (road, development, etc.) please help it move in the direction it is going and release it in a safer location.

If you still cannot identify an animal, please email us a photo and the location it was found at info@turtleconservancy.org.

+ I found a tortoise. Can I keep it?

It is illegal to collect tortoises from the wild. The best way to enjoy these animals is to observe them in the wild and leave them free in their natural habitat. If you are confident the animal is a non-native species to where you found it, please contact a local turtle or reptile club or animal shelter to find the original owner or best home for the animal.

U.S. turtle and tortoise organizations

U.S. reptile clubs

+ I have a turtle I can no longer take care of. Do you take rescues?

Unfortunately we are not a rescue, we deal with the conservation of threatened & endangered species all over the world. We will occasionally take in animals with significant conservation value, not limited to the species we care for in Southern California.

For most rescues, it is best to contact a local reptile club or turtle rescue organization in your area. Here are some links to find a rescue near you:

U.S. turtle and tortoise organizations

U.S. reptile clubs

If you still cannot find an appropriate rescue, it would be best to you call your local ASPCA or U.S. Fish and Wildlife office and have them refer you to a rescue that specializes in reptiles and exotic species. Laws vary by state in accordance to what species the animal is, and they would be versed in providing the best resources possible for the animal.

+ I can no longer care for my pet turtle or tortoise, can I release it into the wild?

No! We understand that there may be turtles in a local pond or lake near your house, but please consider this - pet turtles are often invasive species. Invasive species make it harder for native wildlife to thrive by out competing them for resources (food, water, space) and by potentially introducing disease (mycoplasma, ranavirus, etc.).

This includes tortoise species like California Desert Tortoises, which are known carriers for infectious respiratory disease, which can kill wild desert tortoises. Other tortoises that are common carriers of disease include European tortoises of the genus Testudo, leopard torotises, and sulcatas.

+ I have a turtle and do not know how to care for it. Do you have any care sheets or information?

We have the natural history information for many species on the species page of our website. If your particular species is not listed feel free to email us with your inquiry.

A good resource for general caresheets is the California Turtle and Tortoise Club website.

+ What should I feed my pet turtle or tortoise?

Aquatic turtles need a complete diet with trace nutrients and vitamins. The simplest way is to try some of the commercial turtle pellets available such as reptomin, zoomed, and mazuri. You can then supplement this with worms, insects, and dark leafy vegetables (for most pond/river species).

Tortoises are similar, but their diet should be composed of approximately 90% dark leafy greens (kale, mustard, dandelion, etc.) and 5-10% fruits and fleshy vegetables. A good supplement is a commercially prepared tortoise diet like Mazuri tortoise chow. For larger tortoises, they may eat it without water, but smaller tortoises try soaking the pellets in warm water for 60 seconds, drain, and offer to your pet. These pellets are a great way to get extra vitamins and calcium necessary for proper growth and health!

Terrestrial turtles will benefit from extra protein like worms, slugs, snails, and cooked chicken or fish.

Also, it is important that all turtles and tortoises have access to UVB lighting. We recommend a google search on "UVB lighting for reptiles" to find a bulb that fits your needs/budget. Or better yet, keep them outdoors as weather permits in your area!

Please remember these are GENERAL recommendations for most common species of pet turtles and tortoises. For all aspiring turtle keepers, it is important to research your specific species online and in books. Your local library can be a great resource for reptile husbandry!

The California Turtle and Tortoise Club is a good start!

+ I am thinking of getting a turtle or tortoise for my child. How do I do that?

The first step in owning a pet turtle is understanding the great responsibility there is in its care during its lifespan. It is a commitment that can span decades! Turtles aren’t like dogs that can just be let outside to use the bathroom. Be sure to do some research on the species you are interested in to make sure it is a responsibility your child would be able to manage. We encourage first looking into adoption, as pet stores aren’t usually a trusted resource for ethical sourcing of their animals. You can find adoptions through your local ASPCA or online forums such as these. Please also visit your local library, as they can be a great resource for literature on the natural history of turtles and keeping them as pets.

+ There are some turtles nesting on my property. What should I do?

Nature is an amazing thing and turtles naturally know what to do on their own. You can certainly observe them, but it is best to keep a distance and let them naturally nest and the eggs will hatch in time. They do not need any help or assistance and letting nature run it’s course is the best way to help keep them safe.

+ I have turtles on my land and would like to protect the area. What should I do?

Contact your local U.S. Fish and Wildlife office so they can assess the property and it’s ecological needs. U.S. Fish and Wildlife is a government agency that partners with other conservation (Federal & non-Federal) agencies and non-governmental organizations that recognize critical habitat and the species therein.

+ Will you help me fundraise or advertise for my turtle eco-trip or project?

First of all, that’s awesome you want to help turtles!

We wish you luck, but it is our policy not to post personal fundraisers that do not directly fit our organization's mission statement.

However, we encourage all our supporters to get out into nature, and live out your turtle dreams, it is an important aspect to appreciating these amazing animals!