Is It Illegal to Own a Turtle in Tennessee



Is It Illegal to Own a Turtle in Tennessee

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Yes, it is illegal to own a turtle in Tennessee. The possession of turtles is prohibited in the state.

Tennessee law prohibits the ownership of turtles as pets. It is important to be aware of the legal restrictions on owning certain animals in different states. This article will discuss the laws and regulations regarding turtle ownership in Tennessee, as well as the potential consequences of violating these laws.

Understanding the legal framework around owning turtles in Tennessee is essential for those considering having a turtle as a pet. By being informed about the laws, individuals can ensure they are in compliance and avoid any legal issues related to turtle ownership in the state.

Is It Illegal to Own a Turtle in Tennessee


History Of Turtle Regulation

History of Turtle Regulation:

Evolution Of Laws In Tennessee:

In the past, regulations surrounding turtle ownership in Tennessee were minimal.

However, as concerns for wildlife conservation grew, laws began to evolve.

Initially, restrictions were placed on capturing certain species of turtles.

Over time, stricter regulations were implemented to protect native turtle populations.

Today, owning certain turtle species in Tennessee may require permits to ensure conservation efforts.

Is It Illegal to Own a Turtle in Tennessee


Types Of Turtles Allowed

Permitted Species In Tennessee

In Tennessee, owning certain types of turtles is legal, and these species are permitted for ownership under state law. It’s essential for potential turtle owners to be aware of the specific species that are allowed to be kept as pets in Tennessee.

Common Turtle Species In Tennessee

Below are some of the common species of turtles that are permitted to be owned in Tennessee:

  • American Box Turtle
  • Eastern Painted Turtle
  • Red-Eared Slider Turtle
  • Common Snapping Turtle

It’s important to note that there are specific regulations and requirements for owning each of these permitted species, including size limitations and habitat standards. Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that any turtle being kept as a pet was not captured from the wild but was obtained through legal means.

Restrictions On Turtle Ownership

Owning a turtle as a pet can be a rewarding experience. However, it’s important to be aware of the restrictions on turtle ownership in Tennessee to avoid any legal issues. Understanding the prohibited actions and species can help ensure a responsible and lawful pet ownership. Let’s explore the specific restrictions in place for owning turtles in Tennessee.

Prohibited Actions And Species

When considering turtle ownership in Tennessee, it’s crucial to be aware of the prohibited actions and species. The state law prohibits the sale, purchase, and possession of certain turtle species, particularly those identified as endangered or threatened. Additionally, it is illegal to harvest turtles from the wild for commercial purposes or as pets.


Specific species of turtles are strictly regulated in Tennessee. The state prohibits the ownership of several turtle species, including but not limited to:

  • Box turtles
  • Spotted turtles
  • Alligator snapping turtles

It’s important to research and ensure that any turtle species considered for ownership is legal in Tennessee. Violating these regulations can result in legal consequences and harm to local turtle populations.

Permit Requirements

In Tennessee, it is illegal to own a turtle without a permit. The state requires a permit for both native and non-native turtle species, with regulations in place to ensure their welfare and conservation. It is important to obtain the necessary permit before keeping a turtle as a pet in Tennessee.

If you are considering owning a turtle as a pet in Tennessee, you must first understand the state’s regulations on pet ownership. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is responsible for regulating the possession of native wildlife, including turtles. It is illegal to keep a wild turtle as a pet in Tennessee without a permit. Additionally, some species of turtles are protected and cannot be kept as pets, even with a permit.

Necessary Documentation For Legal Ownership

To legally own a turtle in Tennessee, you must obtain a permit from the TWRA. The permit application requires several pieces of information, including your name, address, and the species of turtle you wish to keep. You must also provide proof that the turtle was not taken from the wild and that it was purchased from a reputable breeder or dealer. In addition to the permit, you must keep documentation that proves you legally obtained the turtle. This documentation includes a receipt from the breeder or dealer, as well as any necessary health certificates or other paperwork required by the state.

Penalties For Illegal Ownership

If you are found to be in possession of a wild turtle without a permit, you could face fines and other penalties. The TWRA may also confiscate the turtle and release it back into the wild. Additionally, if you are found to be in possession of a protected species without a permit, you could face criminal charges and significant fines.


If you are considering owning a turtle as a pet in Tennessee, it is important to understand the state’s regulations and obtain the necessary permits and documentation. By doing so, you can ensure that you are not breaking the law and that you are providing a safe and legal home for your pet turtle.

Penalties For Violations

Tennessee prohibits owning certain turtle species, violators face fines up to $500. It is illegal to possess turtles for commercial purposes without a permit.

Owning a turtle as a pet is legal in Tennessee, but there are some restrictions on certain turtle species. Violating these restrictions can lead to severe consequences, including fines and imprisonment. In this article, we’ll discuss the penalties for illegal turtle ownership in Tennessee.

Consequences Of Illegal Turtle Ownership

If you are caught owning an illegal turtle species in Tennessee, you may face a fine of up to $2,500. Additionally, you could be sentenced to up to 11 months and 29 days in jail. It’s important to note that the severity of the penalty may depend on the number of turtles you own and the circumstances surrounding your violation. It’s also worth mentioning that illegally obtained turtles can be confiscated by authorities. This means that you could lose your pet turtle if it is found to be illegal. Furthermore, the cost of legal fees and penalties can quickly add up, making it a costly mistake to own an illegal turtle.

How To Avoid Penalties

To avoid penalties for illegal turtle ownership in Tennessee, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the state laws and regulations. Tennessee has specific rules regarding the sale, possession, and transportation of certain turtle species. Some species are protected under state or federal laws, meaning that they cannot be owned as pets. If you’re not sure whether the turtle you want to own is legal in Tennessee, it’s best to consult with a local veterinarian or wildlife expert. They can help you determine whether your desired turtle is legal and provide guidance on proper care and handling. In conclusion, it’s important to follow the rules and regulations regarding turtle ownership in Tennessee to avoid severe penalties. By doing so, you can enjoy the company of your pet turtle without risking legal trouble.
Is It Illegal to Own a Turtle in Tennessee


Public Awareness And Education

Public awareness and education play a crucial role in ensuring that individuals in Tennessee are aware of the laws surrounding the ownership of turtles. Efforts to inform the public about turtle laws are essential to prevent illegal possession and ensure the well-being of these animals.

Efforts To Inform The Public About Turtle Laws

Various organizations and authorities in Tennessee are dedicated to educating the public about the legal aspects of owning turtles. Through outreach programs, educational workshops, and online resources, these entities strive to provide comprehensive information on turtle laws to residents.


In Tennessee, owning a turtle is legal, but certain species may require permits. It’s important to research regulations to ensure compliance. Remember to provide proper care for your turtle and enjoy the companionship they bring. Stay informed and responsible to create a safe environment for your pet turtle.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest posts

  • How Do Sea Turtles Survive in the Ocean?

    How Do Sea Turtles Survive in the Ocean?

    Sea turtles survive in the ocean by using their streamlined bodies and strong flippers to swim efficiently. They also have adaptations like a powerful sense of navigation and the ability to hold their breath for long periods underwater. These features help them find food, escape predators, and migrate across vast distances in the ocean. Sea…

    Read more

  • How Many Fingers Do Turtles Have

    Turtles have five toes on each front foot and four toes on each back foot. They have a total of nine fingers. Turtles have a unique anatomy with webbed feet and claws that help them navigate in water and on land. Turtles are fascinating creatures known for their slow and steady pace. Their distinctive features,…

    Read more

  • How Long Does a Painted Turtle Egg Take to Hatch

    A painted turtle egg takes approximately 72 to 80 days to hatch. The incubation period varies slightly depending on temperature and other conditions. Painted turtle eggs typically hatch in around 2 to 2. 5 months. During this time, the eggs are kept warm and safe until the baby turtles are ready to emerge. This process…

    Read more