PLEASE NOTE, WE DO NOT HAVE A CENTRAL SHELTER. ALL TURTLES ARE IN FOSTER HOMES.
WE ARE FULL WITH SLIDERS. We cannot accept any at this time. However, please read below for ideas on how to make it easier to care for your slider or find it a new home.
WANTED: FENCED-IN BACKYARD PONDS FOR TURTLE HOMES!
Sliders do best in fenced-in backyard ponds, or escape-proof ponds, of at least 300 gallons. Sliders will hibernate just fine in much of the US, but they have to go into an outdoor pond after mid-May and before the end of September in order to acclimate before winter sets in. If you know anyone with a FENCED-IN backyard pond, see if they want a turtle! Although we can't place a slider in a backyard pond again until mid-May, we can take the name of interested parties to contact in the spring!
MATTS is looking for FILTERS AND PUMPS for any sized tank or pond for housing turtles in foster care. Egg-crate screening (a.k.a. light difusers) also wanted to make basking spots. Donations are tax-deductable.
Currently, we're at capacity with red-eared sliders. We just CANNOT take any more sliders right now. We might be able to make sugestions that will make it easier to care for you slider, though. If you absolutely need to place your slider, contact your local animal control facility or humane society/SPCA or contact your vet for humane euthanasia. It is ILLEGAL to release a pet slider to the wild.
Have you purchased a baby slider and realized you were in over your head? If so, please consider writing, e-mailing, or calling Senator Landrieu. She is trying to make it legal to sell baby sliders again (it's currently illegal in all 50 states to sell a baby turtle as a pet in connection with a business). If you've purchased a baby slider, you know how much work they really are as they grow up. Please let the Senator hear your story.
http://landrieu.senate.gov/about/contact.cfm - for an on-line form
The Honorable Mary Landrieu
Washington, DC Office
328 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Telephone: (202) 224-5824
Fax: (202) 224-9735
----------- What to do If You've Found an Injured Wild Turtle ----------
For native, injured wildlife (hit by car, found sick in the woods, or a turtle with a fish hook embedded), please contact one of these sources for finding a licensed wildlife rehabilitator near you.
No. VA Wildlife Rescue League
PO Box 704, Falls Church, VA 22040
http://www.mwra.org/ The Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Association
Maryland Department of Natural Resources 24 hour holine that provides names and numbers of licensed wildlife rehabilitators:
---------------- The Slider Problem is Growing --------------
Please be leery of any organization that advertises baby turtle adoption without an application request. Baby sliders grow into large turtles in a few short years, and they can live 50+ years if given proper care. A true adoption organization will screen applicants before placing the turtle, and likely will not have a large volume of hatchlings for adoption.
Also beware of ten gallon "starter kits". NO turtle should live permanently in a 10 or even 20 gallon tank, and many kits sold via the Internet are lacking in proper filtration, UVB lighting, or may even be sold with lights that are too hot for a 10 gallon tank. Adult box turtles CANNOT live in a 10 or 20 gallon tank, and hatchling aquatics quickly outgrow 10 gallon tanks.
Our next meeting is October 5th, 2013. Meetings are held three times a year, on Saturdays from 6 - 8:30PM in Catonsville, MD. The 2014 dates are in March, June , and October. Directions can be found at http://www.matts-turtles.org
We have lots of special needs eastern box turtles needing permanent homes. Most simply need a softer substrate such as long-fiber sphagnum moss and more observation rather than special care. Although box turtles need more space than most people realize, at least 8 square feet of "turtle table", they can be inquisitive and responsive to their keepers. Tess Cook's Box Turtles book, available in most pet stores, is a good start for anyone wanting a box turtle.
Want to help? We can use donations to help buy food (Mazuri and Reptomin pellets and fresh vegetables), filters (small, in-tank filters), and veternary care (the average vet visit for a turtle costs $50-$100). A pre-paid account can be set up with our primary veterinary clinic, Chadwell Animal Hospital. in Abingdon, MD MATTS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and donations are tax-deductable. Donations can be sent to MATTS, P.O. Box 22321, Baltimore, MD 21203.
Who We Are
We are an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in February, 1997, directed by concerned hobbyists and professionals, who saw a need to reach out to the public and improve the conditions under which captive chelonians are kept and try to protect local species and their habitats. We are a conservation group that also does adoptions as a public service.
We offer an adoptions program to help displaced or unwanted pet turtles and tortoise find new, loving homes. We are licensed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to find new homes for unwanted and/or unreleasable pet native turtles. The adoptions program is funded strictly by donations. We do not receive any grants or reimbursement from DNR or the government.
Please note, we do not have a central shelter. All turtles are in foster homes.
More information on MATTS can be found at http://www.matts-turtles.org.
========== Where do the turtles come from? ===============
MATTS has been doing adoptions for 14 years now, and since 2006 we've placed over 100 displaced, unwanted, and/or non-releasable turtles, tortoises, and frogs a year!
The turtles and tortoises available for adoption come from a variety of sources. Some are given up by their owners and some are from animal control facilities and shelters. Pet turtles cannot be released "to the wild" for a variety of reasons. Since most pet turtles have unknown histories, or were purchased from pet stores, they cannot be released for fear that they have come into contact with non-native animals while being kept as pets. In most states it is illegal to release a pet of any kind, even a turtle, to help protect native species that might be affected by diseases transmitted by non-native animals.
Turtles are given up for adoption for many of the same reasons that dogs and cats are offered for adoption. Often the turtle is an impulse purchase, and the turtle is given up when it grows too big and is too hard to care for. Turtles become victims of divorce, children going to college, owners relocating, declining health of the owners, owners passing away, marriage, and new babies in a home. Some turtles are found in abandoned homes after tenants are evicted. Some come from humane confiscations.
We are, on occasion, asked to find homes for baby turtles, usually hatchling red-eared turtles. Maryland residents CAN own baby turtles if the owner has a DNR Captive Reptile and Amphibian Permit. The permit is $25 annually per person, and must be renewed every December until the turtle is 4" in shell length. There is no adoption fee for red-eared sliders. Baby sliders can be adopted out-of-state where legally allowed. Please be leery of any organization that advertises the "adoption" of only hatchling, baby turtles without an application. Any company advertising a "buy one, get one free" special is selling turtle, not placing them for adoption. Baby sliders grow into large turtles in a few short years, and they can live 30+ years if given proper care.
HOW TO ADOPT- PLEASE READ BEFORE APPLYING
WARNING: Any reptile has the potential to carry Salmonella. Reptiles and other pets may carry and transmit germs (including Salmonella) to humans. It is important to wash your hands thoroughly after handling reptiles and other pets or coming in contact with their water, food, housing material, or container. Do not allow pet water, food, or housing material to come in contact with your food or areas where food is prepared. If you or any member of your family is prone to or has serious health problems or is pregnant or your family includes a child younger than 5 years old, it is suggested that you consult your physician before adoption.
PLEASE NOTE: MATTS CANNOT adopt out-of-country.
We DO NOT export.
Shipping is possible during fall and spring months, but the needs of the turtle come first, and some turtles may not be considered for shipping. We WILL NOT SHIP BEFORE APRIL 1st OR AFTER October 30th, due to the health risks associated with cold-weather shipping for turtles and tortoises. Shipping for box turtles and aquatics typically runs between $25-65, depending on your zip code and the size of the turtle. It typicallys runs $30 to VA, $45 to NC, and $85 to CA. Sulcatas between 5lbs and 15lbs may cost up to $120 to ship, and sulcatas over 15lbs must be transported by the current owner or picked up in person by the adopter, or shipped via Delta Dash from airport to airport - Delta Dash shipments must be arranged between owner and adopter. UPS shipping is done "next day express" only, and ONLY shipped on Monday or Tuesdays.
A FULLY COMPLETED ADOPTION APPLICATION is a requirement to be considered as an adopter.
*** PLEASE RESEARCH the needs of the turtle to see if a particular turtle is right for you before asking for an application. ***
Recommended websites and books are listed below. Turtles require more care than most people believe, and they are a long-term commitment.
Two excellent books for researching the care of turtles and tortoises are The North American Box Turtles: A Natural History by C. Kenneth Dodd, Jr. and
The Practical Encyclopedia of Keeping and Breeding Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles
by A.C. Highfield. Both are available at many book stores and Amazon.com.
Many on-line forums such as www.turtleforum.com http://www.turtleforum.com
have caresheets and experienced keepers that will chat with newbies to help you find the right turtle.
We DO adopt to first time turtle keepers. HOWEVER, we need to know that you understand the proper care for a turtle, and the long-term commitment that comes with a turtle or tortoise. Feel free to write or call if you have any questions about keeping a turtle, but do review other resources when making your decision.
Most of our foster homes are located in Maryland, USA., and the majority of turtles available for adoption are near Baltimore, with turtles occasionally for adoption in PA, VA, and DE.
An adoption contract comes with each turtle. Basically, you agree to care for a turtle or tortoise in a humane manner and maintain it in accordance with the laws and ordinances in the county and state in which you reside. You further agree that you will not sell, trade, release, or give away said animal in any way without the written permission of MATTS. If you cannot care for the animal for any reason, it may be returned to MATTS. MATTS reserves the right to approve the transfer of adopted turtles to another individual or organization - you don't have to return it to us if you can't keep it, but we'd like to know where it goes if you don't keep it.
TO REQUEST AN ADOPTION APPLICATION: Applications can be mailed to you, either as an e-mail attachment, or through the US Postal Service. E-mail email@example.com to request an application. Complete the application in full. A vet reference is required, even if your vet does not see turtles. If you do not have a vet, please explain the reason.
We need to know that you understand how to care long-term for a turtle or tortoise. This includes the correct size and type of housing, proper food, hiding spots, substrate, lighting, humidity, and water requirements. If you currently own turtles or reptiles, please include a picture of your set-up(s) including lighting, basking spots, hiding spots, and any pertinent information that proves you have proper enclosures. Pictures of outdoor enclosures should indicate that the enclosure is escape-proof and watering areas, hiding spots, and the like should be visible. If you're looking to add a turtle or tortoise in with another turtle, please include that in the application.
If you do not currently own a reptile, include a full description of how you intend to care for the animal in which you are interested. This includes the size of enclosure, types of food you will offer, substrate (for non-aquatics), what will be used for hide spots, types of lighting for indoor enclosures, fencing for outdoor enclosures, etc. Pictures of outdoor areas that will serve as the site of future enclosures will be helpful. Once you've been approved, we'll let you know, so you can prepare an enclosure for the turtle, then send a picture of the completed enclosure before picking up the turtle or arranging for shipment.
Please research your state laws and regulation regarding turtles and tortoises, particularly box turtles. Many states have regulations concerning the ownership of native reptiles, and some cities and counties have ordinances restricting the ownership of reptiles.
MD residents: A permit is required if you own more than one turtle of each native species, including eastern box turtles and native painted turtles.
New Maryland regulations went into effect March 31st, 2008. Eastern painted, midland painted, northern redbelly, stinkpot (common musk), muds (Kinosternon subrubrum), terrapins, eastern box, snapping turtles, North American woods, and spotted turtles are regulated but CAN BE kept as pets under certain conditions. Please contact the MD Department of Natural Resources at
for information on owning a native turtle in MD. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-785-3390 if you have questions about MD regulations before adopting.
AL residents: If you can find the state wildlife code that allows you to keep a subspecies of Terrapene carolina, shipping will be considered.
GA residents: We cannot place eastern box turtles or any Terrapene carolina subspecies, common map, Alabama map, Barbour’s map, alligator snapper, spotted, or diamondback terrapins
in GA due to state wildlife regulations unless you possess a scientific or educational display permit. Visit http://www.georgiawildlife.org to learn more.
OH and IN residents: Your state requires a permit for eastern box turtles and other native turtles. Box turtles must be microchipped in OH and IN. Native reptiles must be microchipped in OH. We cannot place red-eared sliders into Ohio. Visit here to learn more about Ohio regulations http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/Portals/9/pdf/pub03.pdf
MS residents: Mississippi requires a hunting and fishing license to keep native species, and limits native species to four per species per person without a permit. http://home.mdwfp.com/
MI residents: We can ship at least one eastern box turtle to MI per resident. Please check your state regs if you want more than one eastern box turtle or any other native turtle. Residents of Detroit are not allowed to have reptiles.
NY residents: New York requires a permit for native species and all North American box turtles. Please visit
to find laws about turtles in NY. Currently, we cannot place native turtles into NY unless you supply a copy of your NY permit.
NJ residents: Your state requires a permit to keep turtles, but the permit is fairly easy to obtain. To obtain a permit to keep or breed turtles in New Jersey, call the NJ Department of Fish and Wildlife at 609-292 9591 or go to http://www.njfishandwildlife.com - click on "regulation" and click on "other", then click on Exotic and Nongame Wildlife Species Possession Permit application (Hobby Permit). You can download the application for a permit and mail it in. Proof that a turtle was not wild-caught in New Jersey is required - all MATTS turtles come with an adoption contract and ID number that serves as proof.
PA residents: New regulations went into affect January 1, 2007. We cannot place eastern box turtles or any other native turtle into PA as a result. Please contact Chris Urban of the PA Fish & Boat Commission at 814-359-5113 to learn more about PA regulations.
TN residents: We will NOT ship to TN residents due to the difficulty of interpreting TN health code regulations.
VA residents: No permit required, but there are number limits. Your state allows up to five individuals of any given native species that is not threatened or endangered, but does not have a permit for breeding, and does not have a permitting system. So, you are allowed five eastern box turtles, plus five of any other native species not considered state threatened or endangered, but no more than five of each.
For box turtles, outdoor enclosures are preferred, although indoor enclosures will be considered. Box turtles need a substrate to dig in (such as hardwood mulch - we prefer ICBIN brand from www.soilandmulch.com), at least one hiding spot (such as an artificial silk plant) and a water source that allows them to soak. Some box turtles can hibernate outside depending on the turtle's species, health, weather conditions, and other factors. Indoor enclosures should be at least 10 square feet, and will require a heat light and UVB light. Outdoor enclosures should be larger to allow for proper thermoregulation outside. Here is a sample indoor box turtle enclosure - although it is considered a "tortoise table", it would also work for box turtles. http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/Tortoisetable.htm
IF WANTING TO KEEP MORE THAN ONE BOX TURTLE TO AN ENCLOSURE: Keep in mind that male box turtles typically fight other males or harass a lone female. If you have a male with females, or more than one male, you'll need lots of visual barriers and hide spots in a fairly large enclosure. Also, female box turtles may lay viable eggs for up to five years after contact with a male. Do not mix subspecies if they could breed (i.e. male easterns with female three-toeds or female ornates). Mixing ornates with easterns is highly discouraged.
For adult aquatic turtles, a 40 gallon breeder aquarium or larger is preferred, with outdoor ponds in enclosed yards being the ideal. Female aquatics particularly need ponds in yards. For juvenile aquatic turtles, a ten gallon to forty gallon tank is needed, depending on the individual animal (but NO turtle should live permanently in a ten gallon aquarium or even a 20 gallon aquarium). Indoor ponds and aquariums require a haul-out spot, a.k.a. basking spot, a heat light over a basking spot, a UVB light over the basking spot, a high-powered filter, and usually a water heater. Outdoor ponds must be in an escape-proof yard or the pond itself must be escape-proof. Outdoor winter hibernation is allowed depending on the size of the pond, the species involved, and your winter temperatures. If using an aquarium, a good rule of thumb is at least 10 gallons per inch of turtle (straight carapace length). So, a 5" turtle will need at least a 55 gallon aquarium. A full-grown female red-eared slider is going to need at least a 75 gallon tank, although a backyard pond is best.
If you are considering an aquatic turtle, please visit one of these sites or try
Red-Eared Sliders (Animal Planet Pet Care Library) by Katrina Smith from TFH Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ (2011), available in Petco stores or from http://www.amazon.com
This is an example of a perfect mud turtle tank, where one of our adopted turtles is living. Mud turtles like to climb to the surface rather than swim to the surface, which makes this the perfect mud turtle tank. For a slider, you want to find some way to make the basking spot without having rocks under it, so that there's more swimming room. Rocks can also scrape the shell of heavier (larger) turtles. Plus, the rocks should be fixed together somehow, either with cement, epoxy, or aquarium sealant. It's a 75 gallon tank, which is larger than most people use for US native mud turtles, but it gives you an idea of what you can create for your turtle. Notice tha the smooth river rocks at the bottom are too large to eat. If you can't see the picture, visit http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w209/beautifuljoe1313/SamplemudtankIApril2009.jpg
We do not often get tortoises for adoption, but if you would like to be put on a waiting list of potential homes, please request an adoption application. We do occasionally have sulcata tortoises for adoption, if you are prepared for the enormous responsibility of these giant tortoises. We can ship sulcatas in mild weather, but adopters are asked to pay for shipping.
If you are interested in tortoises, the following websites might be useful to learn more on their care.
Harpo and Friends is dedicated primarily to leopard and sulcata tortoises. Please visit "My First Year with Harpo" to get a first hand account of what life is really like with a sulcata tortoise - and for a good laugh, too!
Meetings are held three times a year - March, June, and October - at the Benjamin Banneker Museum outside of Catonsville, MD. The public is welcome. Adoptable animals will be on hand. Please visit www.matts-turtles.org for times and directions. We also have one or two field trips during the year.
- Corporate sponsors - ask how you can be a sponsor.
- Shelving units or gift card to a home improvement store for creating additional foster and storage space.
- 50 to 300 gallon Rubbermaid stock tanks for fostering aquatic turtles.
- Donations to our veterinary fund.
- Bleach for disinfecting enclosures. We have to disinfect each enclosure after every turtle before another turtle can be fostered - and we find homes for over 100 turtles each year!
- Copy paper, paper towels, clear packing tape
- Betadine, hydrogen peroxide.
- Mulch (ICBIN brand), for our box turtles and tortoises.
- Food: Earthworms, superworms, and waxworms for box turtles from http://wormman.com/ , produce such as fruit, sweet potatos, sqashes, and greens, and commerical pellets such as Reptomin for aquatics and box turtles, and low-protein hay mixes (timothy, orchard, and/or Burmuda) or cactus pads for tortoises. Reptomin and Oxboy alfalfa or timothy hay is available in most pet stores. Non-perishable food such as turtle pellets can be mailed to our P.O. Box. Please contact us first if you would like to donate perishable food such as earthworms or produce.
- High-powered filters and/or pumps rated for aquariums and/or ponds from 10 gallons to 250 gallons..
- Artificial silk plants to make turtles and tortoises feel more secure. They make great hiding places for box turtles, aquatics, and even tortoises. Many turtles and tortoises eat better and just feel better psychologically if they have a place to hide.
- Python siphoning systems (50ft) from http://www.pythonproducts.com/ to help clean enclosures quickly and safely.
- Monetary donations always gratefully accepted to help with veterinary bills and transportation, feeding, housing, and heating costs.
- Foster homes and transporters to help get turtles to permanent homes, or to pick up turtles when owners either can't drive, or are unwilling to drive to foster homes.
- Volunteers are also welcome to post adoption flyers in their local pet store, veterinary clinic, plant nursery, home improvement center, community center, or any location they think a potential adopter might see a flyer. Please call or e-mail to request a flyer.
Dr. Gold and Dr. Haskin, Chadwell Animal Hospital, Abingdon, MD http://www.chadwellanimalhospital.com/ ~ 443-512-8338
Dr. Felter, Westview Animal Hospital, Catonsville, MD ~ 410-744-4800
Dr. Ryan, Feathers Scales & Tails Vet Clinic, Wesminster, MD ~ 410-871-0244 http://www.fstvet.com/
Dr. Hollifield, Best Friends' Veterinary Hospital, 7600-H Lindbergh Dr., Gaithersburg, MD 20879
~ 301-977-1881 http://www.bestfriendsvethosp.com/
Dr. Davis, Kingsbrook Animal Hospital, Frederick, MD 301-631-6900 http://www.kingsbrookvet.com/
Dr. Shaw, Chesapeake Vet Hostpita, Chester, MD (Kent County eastern shore) 410-643-3101 http://www.chesvethos.com/
Dr. Stahl, Stahl Exotic Animal Veterinary Services,
4105 Rust Rd Fairfax, VA 22030
Dr. Weiher, Atlantic Veterinary Center, 741 N. Broad Street, Middletown, DE (302) 376-7506, http://www.atlanticvetcenter.com/
Dr. Dawkins Morgan , 3705 Lancaster Pike Wilmington, DE, (302) 998-2995
Dr. Harris, New Holland Veterinary Hospital,700 E. Main StreetNew Holland, PA 17557 717-354-8095 or 717-354-8095
Click here for a list of pets at this shelter
Currently, we're at capacity with red-eared sliders. We just CANNOT take any more sliders right now. If you absolutely need to place your slider, contact your local animal control facility or humane society/SPCA or contact your vet for humane euthanasia. It is ILLEGAL to release a pet slider. If you need some tips on how to make caring for your turtle easier, or how to trasnport your turtle as part of a move, let us know.
Please call 301-785-3390 or e-mail email@example.com. We can't take all turtles all the time, but e-mail or call to see if we have room. The most important information we'll need is
- Your location and contact information
- The species ( painted turtle, Russian tortoise, ect.) and
- The size - measure the top shell straight from the front edge to the back edge.
If you have a picture, that would help as well, as we can get the animal posted on Petfinder ASAP. If you don't know what species or gender your turtle is, we MUST have a picture of the head and tail to help ID the turtle. No turtle will be accepted without a positive ID. Other information that helps:
- Size when purchased or acquired.
- How long you've had the turtle
- How soon you have to place the turtle
- How is it currently housed? Aquarium size, lighting, food?
- Are there any medical problems?
We have several suggestions for helping in the care of your pet, if this could help you keep it, or at least keep it until a suitable home is found.
If your aquatic turtle is getting too large, and you have a backyard, consider adding a pond in the spring or summer. If you can't add a pond, do you have any neighbors, family, or friends that do? Sliders can live year-round in much of the US in a fenced-in pond dug below frost level (usually at least 300 gallons). There are many websites and books on ponding that can help you create an outdoor habitat for your pet. The area must be fenced in, as it is illegal to release a slider to native waters, and sliders can leave a pond. Someone also needs to feed the turtle regularly.
If you are having trouble keeping your tank clean, consider purchasing a Python siphon. This accessory connects to almost any sink or faucet, and drains and fills an aquarium without requiring buckets or priming. It makes cleaning and filling even a large aquarium fast and efficient. Most pet stores and several on-line stores, sell this product. http://www.pythonproducts.com
A quality filter can help with water quality as well. Canister filters often work much better than over-the-tank filters. Also, many people over-feed their turtles, and this can impact water quality and the rate of growth. An adult or older juvenile can be fed every other day. Some people also feed their turtle in a smaller "feeding container" such as a Rubbermaid or Sterilite container filled partially with water, to keep food particles from fouling the aquarium water. Please contact us if you have questions on the frequency of feeding your turtle.
If your turtle is growing larger and you need a larger tank fast but the budget does not allow for an up-grade in the near future, consider a large Rubbermaid or Sterilite container from a home improvement store until an aquarium or pond can be purchased. How about a Rubbermaid stock tank? A 100-gallon Rubbermaid stock tank is an ideal size for a large female slider, and runs about $80 at farm supply stores. While it's not as pretty as an aquarium, the outside can be decorated to fit in with a room color or theme, and, if you use a pond pump and filter, it doesn't have to have a stand.. Also try www.craigslist.org, www.freecycle.org, Pennysaver, flea markets, garage sales, and thrift stores to find inexpensive aquariums. Remember, you need roughly 10 gallons per inch of turtle.
If you are moving, turtles can be transported in the car or shipped to a new location after your move. UPS ships turtles (use next day noon only), and Delta Dash will transport pets from one home to another with same day service, if both parties are willing to pick up/drop off at the airport! Ask us for more details on transporting if you would like to take your turtle with you during your move.