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   common vs. alligator
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   feeding habits


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Importing & exporting a turtle 


Laws and regulations constantly change. Anyone planning on importing a turtle or any other animal into the country should first contact the appropriate government office dealing with wild life and fishery and ask for current rules and guidelines.
By doing so, one has to remember that laws change not only with time, but also from place to place. The

  • federal laws, which give an overall outline and guidance of whats right and whats wrong in the country.
  • Secondly, the regional laws, specific to smaller areas in as states, provinces or territories.
  • international laws, apply to all the countries
It is a grave mistake to think that what is right for the country will be good for the people from your neighbourhood or your backyard forest or lake.And so goes with the turtles.There is usually a diversity of natural environment in almost any country, depands on the region, especially for big countries like Canada or the United States.What might be a comfortable habitat for one turtle species could be hazardous to another.
Some people let their pet turtle loose to a nearby pond without taking any responsibility of what will happen to the animal or all the other animals which are going to be encountered by it in its new surroundings.Sad to say, the consequences are often fatal. For example, releasing a bunch of preditors, like the snapping turtles, to a previously `quiet fish pond` will result in desturbing the natural balance of that habitat and endanger the native species.Also a turtle which came from a warm country and was put in cold, dump climate will surely die.This is exactly what the regional bylaws are trying to prevent from happening.

The last set of laws that can not be here ommited are the international laws.These laws, known as C.I.T.E.S., take care of protecting the endangered species and apply to all the countries around the world.With some species being taken of the list (due to the increase in the head count) some are constantly added, thus the content of the list might change anytime-just like the laws.The complete list of all the protected turtle species can be found from the The World Conservation Monitoring Centre hompage and should never be forgotten.
For your quick reference click HERE to see the recent list of the protected turtle species.


For Canada:

As for January 2nd, 2000, there are no restrictions on exporting or importing live turtles, but there are some things that have to be done before sending a turtle or taking it with you:

  • the turtle can not be included on the Endangered Species List
  • an importation/exportation permit has to be obtained from the Ministry of Environment prior to moving the turtle
  • it is not against the regional importation laws of the Province or Territory to which the turtle is destined (the currently valid bylaws should be always checked with the Provincial Departament of Agriculture of the area where you live-they might change from day to day)

The list of contacts assisting Canadians in obtaining importation permits CLICK HERE

As I mentioned earlier, the laws change constantly and bylaws in different provinces might not be the same.So, the best think to do is to contact the Provincial Fish and Wildlife Dept. of Agriculture and ask for recent updates on laws and ways of obtaining the permit.

WARNING: a turtle either without the importation permit or not reported to the customs at the border will be confiscated and most likely distroyed (there are no adoption funds generated by the government in support of the adoption program), and the person risks fines and imprisonment.

For people more interested in the subject a good starting reference site is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

For the USA:

As for January 2nd, 2000, according to federal laws there is no need of obtaining an importaition/exportation permit, but since the laws change they should be checked for updates before taking any action.Checking the local offices of Deapartment of Agriculture for detailes is a must.

In the meantime, here`s the general imortation guideline:

  • the species can not be on the endangered species list
  • a person can not import at once more than 4 live turtles if the turtles are less than 4 inches in carapace lenght
  • there are no restrictions on turtles over 4 inches
  • it is not against the regional importation laws of the State to which the turtle is destined (a very important thing to check-some states, like California for example, completely forbid posession of snapping turtles)

Other countries:

Any person interested in importing/exporting a turtle from one country to another should always

  • call both countries customs and adequate government office which deals with regulating the fish and wildlife laws
  • check with C.I.T.E.S. if the species is not on the endangered species list


  • make sure the turtle you are going to import is not endangared
  • make sure it is legal to bring it to your country
  • it has to be healthy
  • make sure that it will not suffer during the transport
  • be responsible-make sure it will have a new home upon arrival
  • take care of all the legal papers before sending it or taking with you
  • think the whole thing over again
Got it all ALL RIGHT ? Mr./Mrs.Turtle, have a nice trip !


Just in case, so the turtle or... you would not get `destroyed` by the authorities, please - double check all the information and get all the paperwork done as soon as you can.There would be nothing more sad than having your long life pet or a `friend to be` taken away from you with the perspective of ending its journey in a trash box.

More reading & related links:
        Basic snapping turtle info in one file - Introduction to snapping turtles.pdf (116 Kb)  


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