If you live anywhere in the USA, then you probably will have heard the old wives’ tale that turtles are illegal in New Jersey. There are lots of different animals that actually are illegal across the different States of America, for example, hedgehogs.
Yet, a lot of people seem to focus on the ‘fact’ that turtles are illegal in New Jersey. Even though there are actually no laws preventing the ownership of turtles in New Jersey.
The main reason why people seem to believe that turtles are illegal in New Jersey is because the State’s laws are a little difficult to understand.
When you first read them, it is understandable that you might think they suggest that turtles are illegal in New Jersey. But in reality, they aren’t. Well, at least as long as you stick to the rules and regulations for this State.
In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at why people think turtles are illegal in New Jersey, and the laws that have led them to this belief.
Are Turtles Illegal in New Jersey?
As we have said, it is a common misconception that turtles are illegal in New Jersey. This is one of those ‘facts’ that people love to bring up at a dinner party, despite the fact that it actually isn’t true.
This is a rumor that has been developing over many years, primarily due to the fact that the laws regarding turtles and tortoises in New Jersey are rather confusing.
But, even if the laws are confusing, you should be aware that it is completely legal to own a turtle in New Jersey. This applies to both native and exotic species, so if you want a pet turtle, there is nothing really stopping you. But, in order to own a turtle in New Jersey, you will need to obtain a permit.
It is the fact that this permit exists which has contributed greatly to the misconception that turtles are illegal in New Jersey. Primarily because if you don’t have a permit, then it is illegal to keep a turtle as a pet. So, let’s take a deeper look at New Jersey law regarding turtles.
What is New Jersey Law regarding Turtles?
So, in New Jersey, it is perfectly legal to keep a turtle as a pet as long as you have a permit. This law applies to both turtles and tortoises, and includes both native and exotic species of these animals.
This permit is known as a hobbyist permit, and it is fairly easy to get your hands on. So, there is no reason not to get this permit. If you buy a turtle without obtaining one of these permits, then it is illegal.
To get a hobbyist permit, you will need to contact the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. This permit will cover you to keep a turtle as a pet without facing any legal consequences.
However, it is worth noting that this permit does not cover you to keep all types of turtles as pets. There are some limitations to the species of turtles that you are legally allowed to keep as a pet in New Jersey.
With a hobbyist permit, you can keep a variety of species of turtle as a pet. These include the red-eared slider, spotted turtle, eastern box turtle, eastern musk turtle, eastern spiny soft-shelled turtle, eastern mud turtle, common musk turtle, northern map turtle, northern diamondback terrapin, and the northern red-bellied turtle.
This permit even covers the North American wood turtle, which is actually classed as a threatened species.
There are some exceptions to this rule. If you want to have a common snapping turtle, or an eastern painted turtle, then there is no need to obtain a permit.
But, it is illegal to take one of these animals from the wild and make them your pet. Likewise, even with a permit, it is illegal to have the endangered bog turtle as a pet, with absolutely no exceptions to this rule.
It is also legal to keep the most exotic species of turtle as a pet in New Jersey. To do this, you will need to obtain the same hobbyist permit that we mentioned earlier.
But, if you want to keep an exotic species that is considered ‘endangered’ as a pet, then you will need to obtain additional certification.
This additional certification can be obtained from the United States Fish and Wildlife service, and it is known as the ‘Captive Bred Wildlife Permit’.
Until you obtain this permit, you will not be able to import an endangered exotic species into the USA. But as long as you follow all the regulations that we have outlined above, then it is perfectly legal to keep a turtle as a pet in New Jersey.
Why do people think it is Illegal to keep turtles in New Jersey?
Now that it is clear that it is perfectly legal to keep turtles in New Jersey, as long as you obtain a permit, then you might be puzzled as to why so many people think it is illegal.
As we have said, this is partly because of the confusing way that the laws for this State are worded. But, there are some other things that influence this idea.
Some people believe that turtles are illegal in New Jersey because of health concerns. Turtles have been linked to carrying Salmonella in their shells, which can then be transferred to humans when you pick them up.
Another possible reason is because of the impact that turtles could have on the native animals of New Jersey. But, as you can only keep turtles as a pet in New Jersey law, there is no worry of this.
In short, turtles are not illegal in New Jersey. As long as you obtain the necessary permits to keep your turtle as a pet, and its species is on the accepted list, then it is perfectly legal to keep a turtle in New Jersey.