Can You Release Red Eared Sliders Into The Wild (Should You & Will It Survive)?

Red Eared Sliders are a type of semi-aquatic turtle that comes from the pond sliders. They are the most popular pet turtle in the United States and have spread all around the world as one of the top turtle pets that people have at home.

The reason? They’re small and convenient, easy enough to maintain, and incredibly cheap to purchase from almost anywhere. 

The problem is that this species of turtle is also the most invasive type of turtle in the world. It will spread like crazy and take over local ecosystems. This is why you should never ever release them into the wild! If you can no longer keep your turtle at home, then you need to find a new home. 

But let’s talk about all of this in more detail. About whether you should release them into the wild, and whether they would survive or not. Basically, all the consequences, and what the correct course of action would be. 

Let’s get right into it! 

Can you legally release Red Eared Sliders into the wild?

Red Eared Sliders are an incredibly invasive species of turtle, which is why they should never ever be released out into the wild without the necessary permissions. They are also the most common turtle pet in the United States, and as such, they are also the most abandoned. It’s a case of numbers, after all. 

In regards to legality, it is absolutely and completely illegal to release a Red Eared Slider turtle out into the wild.

For most animals, you will usually need a permit in order to be legally allowed to release them out into the wild, as the permit will essentially be proof that it is okay to do so, and that both the animal being released and the local wildlife will be fine from it. 

But when it comes to the Red Eared Slider turtle, they would never provide you with a legal permit, as they should never be released into the wild at all. 

So essentially…no, you are not legally allowed to release this type of turtle out into the wild.

Will a Red Eared Slider turtle survive if released into the wild?

Okay, let’s say you decide to ignore the law, and you’re going to release your Red Eared Slider turtle into the wild. Most pets will die when released into the wilderness because they can no longer fend for themselves, as they have gotten used to being taken care of. But what about this turtle type? Would it survive? 

It will depend on your turtle, and majorly on the environment and habitat that you release it into out in the wild. But here is the thing; Your Red Eared Slider turtle might have been born in captivity, but it hasn’t been domesticated.

Sure, life has been easy, and your turtle has had everything it needed. But the turtle will still have the basic instincts, and will still know exactly how to survive out in the wild. 

Red Eared Slider turtles have a very high probability of surviving out in the wild after being released, and they will thrive in almost any habitat as long as it has the right temperature range.

This is why they are known to be such an invasive species, as they do relatively well and adapt quickly, meaning they will spread across the new habitat and reproduce. 

So to sum it up, the answer is pretty much a yes. Your Red Eared Slider turtle would probably survive being released into the wild. Whether the local wildlife survives is another thing…as your turtle is a highly invasive species. 

Should you release a Red Eared Slider turtle into the wild?

On the one hand, we’ve said that it is illegal for you to release your Red Eared Slider into the wild, but on the other hand, we’ve said that it would likely survive without much of a problem (the problem would instead be the fact that it is such an invasive species on the local wildlife). 

So…should you release your turtle? 

The answer is no. Never ever release your Red Eared Slider turtle into the wild, no matter your reasoning. It is not only illegal, but wrong to do so, and dangerous to the natural and local ecosystem.

Just so that it is completely clear, here are the main reasons why you should not release your turtle into the wild:

  • It is illegal to do so
  • It is an invasive species, and therefore could negatively impact the local wildlife and ecosystem
  • It’s immoral. If you can no longer care for your Red Eared Slider turtle then you should find a new appropriate home for it, not just leave it out in the wild
  • The turtle might die, especially if there is a scarcity of food or if the habitat is wrong 

What should you do instead of releasing a Red Eared Slider into the wild?

Hopefully, we’ve made it absolutely clear that you should not release your Red Eared Slider turtle out into the wild, under any circumstances at all. Just don’t do it. 

But then, what can you do if you can no longer care for your turtle? Where do you take it? 

Here are some of the things you could and should do, instead of releasing it out into the wild:

  • Find a friend or family member willing to adopt your turtle.
  • Contact a veterinarian office or a pet store, and talk about possibly setting up an advert in order to find a new home for your turtle.
  • Contact a turtle rescue center or pet rehoming agency, they might be able to take care of your turtle while they find a new home.
  • If you cannot find any people wanting to take in your turtle, and there are no agencies, charities, or rescue programs able to help, then you will have to put the turtle down through euthanasia. This should be a last resort, but it is better than releasing it out into the wild, as that would maybe harm the turtle and also maybe harm the local wildlife.