NJ TURTLE LAWS

It is an all too common mistake for people to assume that keeping turtles and tortoises in the state of New Jersey is illegal. Throughout the years, rumors have spread mainly due to misleading information about New Jersey's laws regarding this subject. I have created this particular page to help straighten things out a bit and to properly inform others about the truth. Unfortunately, regulations in various states have changed drastically which is attributed to the disappearance of wild turtle populations. Though we may be sick of hearing this, it's no surprise that humans are to blame. Illegal collection for the pet trade, road mortality and habitat destruction have led to these changes. In return, some state's laws are very confusing.

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TURTLES ARE LEGAL IN NEW JERSEY.

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In the state of New Jersey, it is completely legal to keep and even breed most species of turtle and tortoise. This includes both native and exotic species. A hobbyist permit that is obtainable from the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, is required to keep them. Native species that are legal to keep are the eastern box turtle, spotted turtle, northern red-bellied turtle, northern diamondback terrapin, red-eared slider, common musk turtle, eastern mud turtle, northern map turtle, eastern spiny soft-shelled turtle and even the threatened North American wood turtle. The endangered bog turtle cannot be possessed in NJ under any circumstances and there are no permits granted for them.Two native species that do not require a permit of any kind to possess are the eastern painted turtle as well as the common snapping turtle, however they cannot be taken from the wild.

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Most exotic species are allowed in the state under the same hobbyist permit as long as they do not appear on any federally endangered list. A separate permit from the United States Fish & Wildlife service known as the Captive Bred Wildlife Permit would be required to legally acquire and import into NJ a species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA. Some example species are the radiated tortoise, Coahuilan box turtle, Indian spotted pond turtle and the Galapagos tortoise. The vast majority of other exotic turtles and tortoises can be brought into the state for hobbyist purposes. A wide variety of Mediterranean, South American, African, Asian and Australian species may be legally kept with a paper trail and approval from New Jersey Fish and Wildlife in the form of a hobbyist permit. 

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Residents of this state may also obtain an animal dealer/wholesale license permit from the Division of Fish and Wildlife to be able to sell turtles and tortoises legally and responsibly. However, turtles and tortoises cannot be sold within the state's lines. All transactions must be made to individuals residing outside of the state. All this means is that money must come from an out of state resident and you must either ship the animal(s) to their out of state address or deliver them yourself. No exchange of money can take place on NJ soil when it comes to turtles and tortoises. Residents of the state are of course allowed to leave the state and buy these animals elsewhere and then return with them as long as they have obtained or will obtain the proper permit. 

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Whether you are applying for just a hobbyist permit or an Animal Dealer License, you must be able to prove that the animals you are acquiring have not been collected from the wild, anywhere. All turtles and tortoises you obtain must come with a receipt to show proof that the animal came from a source where it was bred in captivity. Make sure to ask questions when purchasing from anyone and be firm about getting a receipt. Below you will find a link to NJ Fish and Wildlife if you are interested in learning more or to fill out an application. You'll also find the number to directly reach the Exotic and Non Game Species department of the NJ Fish and Wildlife service. Please follow the law! NJ is one of the last states that is actually fair with their regulations. 

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NEVER RELEASE A CAPTIVE TURTLE INTO THE WILD

 

NEVER TAKE A TURTLE OUT OF THE WILD.

 

BE RESPONSIBLE, ENJOY WILD TURTLES FROM A DISTANCE AND REPORT ANY SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY. 

To obtain permits and any other information, visit NJFishandWildlife.com, or call (908)-735-5450.

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