Natural Range: North America
Natural Diet: Minnows, dark leafy greens by the waters edge, and algae
Captive Diet: Feeder guppies, minnows, worms, crickets, dark leafy greens, berries, and turtle pellets.
Average Size: Males: 7-9 inches Females: 9-14 inches
Lighting: UV lighting is needed for this animal
Heating: Basking Lamp or Cermaic Heat Emittor and Aquarium Water Heater are needed for
Temperature: Ambient: 80°F Basking: 85°F Water: 78-85°F
Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons Per 1 inch of shell
Laws and Regulations
The U.S. laws prohibiting the sale of viable eggs and pet turtles with shells less than 4" in length are
directly associated to the rise of salmonella infections. It was incorrectly believed those over 4" survived the disease or
were less likely to carry it. These laws introduced in 1975 have been amended several times and have been effective in reducing
infections and are still in effect. Despite recent claims and articles, salmonella can still be carried and transmitted by
turtles. Although it is easy to avoid transmission, it is still a potential health hazard.
There are laws regarding the release of turtles - millions of hatchlings have been farmed, collected and
exported to where some have established themselves in non-native habitats. As a result, they displace native terrapins and
overpopulate or do not survive.
In some regions, local laws allow for the capture and captivity of wild turtles. This obviously puts them
at greater risk for capture and sale for profit.
*** I do not encourage anyone to take wild turtles or tortoises from their natural habitat, unless it
is strictly for the safety and well being of the animal. The animal should then be brought to an appropriate organization
and/or be administered the correct veterinary care, then released if possible.***
Habitat loss and nesting activity increases the chances you might meet a wild RES. There are possible scenarios
in which you may encounter a wild RES and wish to take action. Any action is optional. For instance, it is up to you if you
want to help a nest survive since most wild nests do not. The RES is not an endangered or threatened species and you may decide
to let nature decide what happens. I do recommend helping an injured turtle since there are options to offer care. Do be careful
when handling wild animals. There is no reason to expect them to be hospitable and they may be even more dangerous if injured.
Please think ahead and take every measure to be careful.
Local laws vary and it may be illegal for you to remove it from the wild. If you have captured a wild RES,
you should release it immediately. Wild animals do not adapt well to captivity despite your intentions. Captive RES are readily
A captive RES will be more susceptible to predators, starvation and disease. They are not conditioned for
a harsher environment and are dependent on people for their food and safety. A released captive must compete against a native
turtle population, could disrupt an ecosystem and may possibly introduce new diseases. Released captives may dangerously stray
from their area of abandonment. They will be vulnerable to predators out of water, to people and to vehicular traffic. They
may not be prepared for harsh weather conditions or seasonal changes.
Releasing a previously captive turtle is not an acceptable or humane decision. If you can no longer keep
your turtle, you should search for a nearby turtle keeper, rescue operation or re-homing organization. A local veterinarian
may have resource information if you require it.
In all respects, it is not a good idea to remove a healthy animal from the wild or to release a captive
animal into the wild. This site does not endorse the capture of wild RES or other turtles regardless of the laws in your area.