Are Red Eared Slider Turtles Illegal In California?

As an avid pet owner, you may be asking yourself, “Are Red Eared Slider Turtles Illegal in California?” Red Eared Slider Turtles, or RES, are one of the most popular pet turtles in the United States, but their legal status in California is a bit complicated. In this article, we’ll look at the laws governing the possession and sale of RES turtles in California and how they affect potential pet owners.

Are Red Eared Slider Turtles Illegal in California?

Are Red Eared Slider Turtles Illegal in California?

Red-eared slider turtles (RES) are popular pets in the United States and around the world. However, the state of California has placed restrictions on these animals due to their potential harm to the environment. The restrictions are in place to protect California’s native wildlife from the introduction of non-native species.

What Are Red-Eared Slider Turtles?

Red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) are a species of semi-aquatic turtles native to the southern United States and northern Mexico. They are small to medium-sized turtles that reach a maximum size of around 10 inches (25 cm). RES turtles are popular pets due to their attractive appearance, hardiness, and low cost.

Are Red-Eared Slider Turtles Legal in California?

Red-eared slider turtles are illegal to own as pets in California. In 2013, the California Fish and Game Commission passed a regulation to ban the sales and ownership of RES turtles in the state. The regulation was passed in order to protect California’s native wildlife from the introduction of non-native species.

Why Are Red-Eared Slider Turtles Banned in California?

Red-eared slider turtles are considered an invasive species in California. If released into the wild, they can out-compete native species for food and habitat. They also have the potential to spread diseases to native wildlife. For these reasons, the California Fish and Game Commission has determined that it is in the best interest of California’s native wildlife to ban the sales and ownership of red-eared slider turtles in the state.

What Does the Ban on Red-Eared Slider Turtles in California Include?

The ban on red-eared slider turtles in California includes the sale, possession, and release of RES turtles in the state. This means that it is illegal to buy or sell RES turtles in California, and it is illegal to keep RES turtles as pets. It is also illegal to release RES turtles into the wild in California.

Are There Alternatives to Red-Eared Slider Turtles?

There are a number of alternatives to red-eared slider turtles that are legal to own in California. These include painted turtles (Chrysemys picta), western pond turtles (Actinemys marmorata), and map turtles (Graptemys spp.). All of these species are native to California and are legal to own as pets.

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Where Can I Buy Red-Eared Slider Turtles in California?

It is illegal to buy or sell red-eared slider turtles in California, so you will not be able to purchase them in the state. However, they are still widely available in other parts of the US and abroad. If you are planning to buy a red-eared slider turtle, it is important to make sure that the turtle is captive-bred and not wild-caught.

Are There Exceptions to California’s Ban on Red-Eared Slider Turtles?

Yes, there are some exceptions to California’s ban on red-eared slider turtles. The ban does not apply to turtles that are used for scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes. In addition, turtles that are kept in zoos or aquariums are exempt from the ban.

What Should I Do If I Have a Red-Eared Slider Turtle in California?

If you have a red-eared slider turtle in California, you should not release it into the wild. Instead, you should contact a local animal shelter or rescue organization to find out if they can provide a safe home for the turtle. If the turtle cannot be rehomed, you may be able to surrender it to a local wildlife rehabilitation center.

Conclusion

Red-eared slider turtles are illegal to own as pets in California due to their potential harm to the environment. The ban includes the sale, possession, and release of RES turtles in the state. There are a number of alternatives to red-eared slider turtles that are legal to own in California, such as painted turtles, western pond turtles, and map turtles. If you have a red-eared slider turtle in California, you should not release it into the wild, but instead contact a local animal shelter or rescue organization for assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Red Eared Slider Turtles Illegal in California?

Answer: Yes, Red Eared Slider turtles are illegal to own in California. Under state law, it is illegal for anyone to keep, possess, import, or sell any non-native reptiles, including Red Eared Slider turtles, without a permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Violators of this law can face up to six months in jail, a $500 fine, or both. Red Eared Slider turtles are considered an invasive species in California, and can have a negative impact on local ecosystems. Because of this, the state has taken steps to protect native species by prohibiting the sale, possession, or importation of Red Eared Slider turtles.

What Other Turtles are Illegal in California?

Answer: In addition to Red Eared Slider turtles, other non-native species of turtles are also illegal to own in California. These include the African Spurred Tortoise, the Red Footed Tortoise, and the Sulcata Tortoise. Possession of any of these turtles without a permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is a crime.

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife also has the authority to add other species of turtles to the list of those prohibited from possession, sale, or importation into the state. The list of prohibited turtles is periodically updated, so it is important for potential owners to check for any changes before considering purchasing a turtle.

Are There Exceptions to the California Law Regarding Red Eared Slider Turtles?

Answer: Yes, there are certain exceptions to the California law regarding Red Eared Slider turtles. For example, people who are in possession of a Red Eared Slider turtle before the law was enacted are allowed to keep their turtle, provided that they obtain the necessary permit.

It is also possible for people to obtain a permit to keep Red Eared Slider turtles for educational and scientific purposes, as long as they meet certain qualifications. These permits are granted on a case-by-case basis and require an application process.

What Are the Penalties for Owning a Red Eared Slider Turtle in California?

Answer: Owning a Red Eared Slider Turtle in California without a permit is a crime, and violators can face up to six months in jail, a $500 fine, or both. The penalties for illegally owning a Red Eared Slider Turtle can vary depending on the circumstances. If the turtle was obtained illegally, the penalty may be more severe.

It is also important to note that anyone who provides a Red Eared Slider Turtle to someone else without a permit can also be subject to a fine or jail time. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife takes these offenses very seriously and will prosecute anyone found to be breaking the law.

Are There Alternatives to Red Eared Slider Turtles in California?

Answer: Yes, there are several alternatives to Red Eared Slider Turtles available in California. For example, native species such as the Western Pond Turtle, the Spotted Turtle, and the California Red-legged Frog are all legal to own in the state.

In addition, there are also a number of other non-native species of turtles that are legal to own in California, such as the Box Turtle, the Wood Turtle, and the Eastern Box Turtle. It is important to research any turtle species before considering purchasing one, as some may be more difficult to care for than others.

Are Red Eared Slider Turtles Illegal in California? 2

Why Aren’t Baby Turtles Sold Anymore?

California has strict regulations when it comes to exotic pet ownership, and unfortunately, red-eared slider turtles are one of the species that are not allowed to be kept as pets. Those who are found in possession of a red-eared slider turtle could face fines and other legal repercussions. Therefore, it is best to adhere to the laws in place and avoid owning a red-eared slider turtle in California.

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