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 many of the tri-state's wildlife laws have changed drastically attributed to the disappearance of several wild populations native to this area of the United States and 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 and it has made individual state laws rather confusing. In the state of New Jersey, it is completely LEGAL to keep and breed native and exotic species of turtles. A hobbyist permit that is obtainable from the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, is required to do so. This includes 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. This excludes the endangered Bog turtle.The Eastern painted turtle as well as the Common Snapping turtle DO NOT require any kind of permit to be possessed in NJ, however they cannot be taken from the wild. Most exotic species are allowed in the state under the same permit so long as they do not appear on any federally endangered list (a separate permit from the United States Fish & Wildlife service is then required). 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 legally and responsibly. However, turtles and tortoises CANNOT be sold WITHIN the state of NJ. All transactions must be made to individuals residing outside of the state. 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 IN THE WILD, anywhere. All turtles and tortoises obtained 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 to show proof. Below I will include a link to NJ Fish and Wildlife if you are interested in learning more and I will also leave a number to directly reach the Exotic and Non Game Species department of NJ Fish and Wildlife service. Please follow the law! NJ is one of the last states in the North East that is actually fair.
*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 illegal activity.
To obtain permits and any other information, visit NJFishandWildlife.com, or call (908)-735-5450.
Turtles are not illegal in NJ!