Do you keep terrapins or turtles?!

16th April 2017


Implementation of European level legislation, the EU Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Regulation (1143/2014) to be precise, has changed the way in which certain turtles and terrapins can now move between owners. It is vitally important that as a turtle or terrapin owner you are aware of all the facts to avoid inadvertently breaking the law.


Essentially the changes concerning terrapins boil down to:


  • If you own a Red-eared Terrapin (Trachemys scripta) or any of the related sub species including the Yellow-bellied Slider, Red-eared Slider, Cumberland Slider or Common Slider these changed affect you! Hybrids of these species are also affected.


  • If you are no longer able to keep your pet there are now only two options available to you: surrender it to an animal rescue service or have the animal humanely euthanised by a veterinary surgeon.


  • You must no release your animal into the wild! These legislation changes are a direct response to the threat posed by invasive alien species to our fragile natural ecosystems. Not only does releasing your pet put it’s life at risk but it also endangers native flora and fauna. Besides this, it is also illegal!


  • If surrendered to an animal sanctuary said sanctuary will have to keep the animal for the remainder of it’s natural life; legally they may only transfer ownership to another suitable equipped sanctuary or have the animal euthanised. The animal must not be rehomed to a private owner.


  • Breeding of these species is strictly prohibited! It is up to you to ensure that no breeding occurs, if babies do miraculously appear you will be expected to keep the for the rest of their natural life!


  • You may not pass the animal on to a friend, family member or fellow exotics enthusiast (no matter how experienced).


  • Private owners will not have to endure inspections however a licensing scheme or registration for rescue centres and sanctuaries holding these species is likely to be implemented and details are currently being finalised. At the time of writing information of the precise nature of this aspect of the legislation is sparse, I will post updates as and when they come through.


  • Other non turtle/terrapin species of concern in the Regulation include the Coypu (Myocastor coypus), Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger), North American Bullfrog (Lithobates cetesbeianus), Small Indian Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus), South American Coatimundi (Nasua nasua), Raccoon (Procyon lotor), Siberian Chipmunk (Tamias sibiricus) and more - 23 in total - along with 14 different plant species too. If you own any of these animals the same rules detailed above apply to you!


Squirtle, a Mississippi May Turtle, was rescued and rehomed by Grace's Rest.


Grace’s Rest cannot currently accept turtles or terrapins as we do not have adequate space or facilities to house them (we hope that this will change in the near future as we have been utterly swamped with admission requests for these species in recent months. Despite this we will always work closely with owners to find their pet a placement.


If you like to read further into the implications of this issues please follow the links below:


The EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation – Frequently Asked Questions


Adoption of the first list of invasive alien species of Union concern


If you have any questions or concerns about this or any other exotic pet relates issue please get in touch and as always we will do our best to assist you.



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  • Tina (Monday, June 26 17 01:58 pm BST)

    Hi my name is Tina I have read the above information I am trying to re-home my son's terrapins as he no longer wants them if you could help in any way I would be gratefully appreciated. Thks

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Meet the Owner-Operator, Clare Barnard BSc.(Hons)


Clare is a research scientist and PhD candidate at the University of Lincoln where she is studying wildlife conservation and the direct impact of the exotic pet trade on wild animal populations.  She will be working from the Laboratory of Evolutionary Ecology of Adaptations.  Clare has also been honoured to become part of the Global Amphibian Biodiversity research team.


Clare has almost 20 years professional experience in the husbandry of exotic animals a specialism in the genetics of British herpetofauna.  She has worked with wild Adders (Vipera berus) and endangered Natterjack Toads (Epidalea calamita) under Natural England license conditions.  Clare has worked as a zookeeper and within private collections including her own.  She lives in rural North Warwickshire, on-site at Grace's Rest, with a whole host of animals!

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