Polk County Conservation

Pet Store Turtles

  • My son LOVES turtles. Every summer he finds a turtle and keeps it in a small pond he built in our yard. He releases the turtle at summers end wherever he found it to begin with. This year he has yet to find a turtle. I'm wondering if it would be ok to buy a turtle and release it at the end of the summer or if store bought turtles shouldn't be released. I just want some advice. Thanks!

    Absolutely under no circumstances should a store bought turtle be released into the wild. Your pet turtle may unknowingly carry fungal diseases that could be transferred to wild turtle populations. These kinds of diseases can be detrimental to native turtle populations.

    Another reason not to release them is that turtles sold in pet stores don’t normally live in Iowa. When an animal is introduced into a region where it’s not typically found, the balance of the habitat is altered. The introduced turtles may out compete the native turtles for food and shelter and eventually kill off the native populations. Also many "pet store" turtles are not adapted to survive the winters in Iowa.

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    Administration Office
    12130 NW 128th St
    Granger, IA 50109

    P: (515) 323-5300
    F: (515) 323-5354

    Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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