Turtle Shelter

My big dream

Since years with my turtle-lover friends we are considering the idea to build a shelter for unwanted pet turtles. Most exotic turtles are counted to the invasive species in my country, e. g. red-eared or yellow-eared sliders, gliders, snapping turtles, and so on.

cute red-eared slider hatchling

Lovely baby turtles are bought by adults for their kids. Alas, as the animal grows in size, they mean more ‘problem’: they need expert care, bigger enclosure, aquaterrarium with special lighting and water filters, fresh-water fishes for food, etc. Also, turtles aren’t ideal pets for children: they don’t cuddle and don’t enjoy being handled. This is why hundreds or even thousands of pet turtles end up discarded. They get thrown into rivers, lakes or ponds. Despite of the common belief, these places are far from being ideal for these creatures. They are likely to starve, to freeze, or to die because of weakness, illness, or a predatory attack. Those who survive are serious threat to local wild fauna.


Aranka, one of my turtle ladies, her right front paw missing

Red-eared and yellow-eared sliders are famous invasive species, massively built, made-to-survive animals. In my country, placing them into the nature is a crime. However, no serious sanctions are applied against careless owners to prevent more animals from being dumped… We all see that the problem exists, but no solution comes from the state, and the most of the conservationsist organizations are rather short on funds. So, it’s up to us, turtle-lovers to do something.

grown up red-eared slider

grown-up red-eared slider (photo by John White, Maryland DNR)

As I see there are two major tasks:

  • lobby for the ban of exotic pet trade as it is (including inland breeding)
  • create shelters where these pets find a safe home, without endangering local wildlife

I think the shelter needs at least a territory of 1 square kilometre (250 acres). This would be enough to install a buffer zone – so no polluted soil, harmful substances or poisonous plants would infest the habitats. For a start 10 ponds would be created: 1 as a quartantine, the others for permanent living. The place could accommodate about 1000 turtles at best. Also, a complex building (powered by green energy)would be erected where winter lodging would be possible – and at the ground floor the animals could walk in or out at their leisure to reach underground ponds and hiding areas. In the upper side of the building we’d create a vet station, and a few halls and rooms, for yoga classes, education, or conference (without disturbing the animals). Plus there would be a few rooms for living. 🙂

the plans
the plan of the shelter

Everything would be constructed with the comfort of the turtles in mind, humans’ interests come as second. There are questions about making a sort of roofs for smaller ponds, to defend the animals from bird attacks. The fences would have to be also thoughtfully designed, to prevent escaping. Monitoring and etological research would be possible. Laid eggs would be collected, preventing hatching. Also, when the institution works finely, with time we may build an additional place for helping the conservation activities to save the local turtle Omys orbicularis with an incubation program. Expert help is already available (and has been offered) from conservationists and animal welfare activists.

To create this wonderful place, all help or advice is accepted! 🙂

In case you feel you’d like to contribute to the shelter project (amount needed: 200.000 EUR):

Bank account:

HU91 1410 0110 1227 1249 0100 0003

to the notes write: turtle home