Terrapin Rescue & Rehoming

Whether you’ve found a stray terrapin in need of help, are looking to rehome your terrapin as you can no longer give it the care it needs, or you’re looking to adopt a terrapin, we have you covered.

What do you want to do?

Caring For A Rescued Terrapin

If you have rescued a terrapin in the UK and intend on keeping it, even if only for a while, you’ll need to learn about the specific needs of your rescued species.

Terrapins and freshwater turtles are not native to the UK. That means, if you find one, it is almost certainly an abandoned pet (or an offspring of an abandoned pet). Unfortunately, terrapins living the wild can wreak havoc on local ecosystems and can often suffer malnourishment and struggle to adapt to the UK climate.

If you’re rescuing a wild terrapin, you’re doing a good thing. BUT, you will need to learn how to care for the animal, even if you are only keeping it until it can be rehomed or sent to a rescue.

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To cover the basic needs, most terrapins require access to both water and dry land (via a gentle ramp). The water will need to be heated and the dry land will need some form of UV light to keep the terrapin healthy. Essentially, you need to mimic the ‘real world’ as closely as possible.

You’ll also need to ensure it receives a varied diet (most prefer to fed in the water) and some kind of filtration system will help you remove waste and keep the water clean.

I cover everything you need to know in my complete turtle guide book which you can download FREE, here: https://www.terrapins.co.uk/free-terrapin-guide/

Transporting A Terrapin

Whether you’re rescuing a terrapin and need to transport it to your home or a rescue centre, or you are moving house and need to take a terrapin with you, you’ll need to prepare properly to transport the animal safely.

The good news is that terrapins do NOT need to be in water all the time. In fact, terrapins will often spend hours out of the water basking under the sun (or a UV light). However, they do still need moisture.

Therefore, to safely transport you’ll want to soak plenty of newspaper or good quality kitchen roll (avoid toilet roll as it breaks apart too easily and could suffocate the terrapin) in warm water.

Then, scrunch it up into loose balls and put it in a secure container. I like to use a small plastic tank with a lid or a polystrene box with air holes punched in the top.

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Ferplast Plastic Fish Aquarium GEO Large Aquarium Tank 6 Container for Small Animals Terrarium Insects Turtles, Sturdy Plastic, Ventilation Grills, Handle for Easy Transport, 30 x 20 x h 20,3 cm Blue
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Ferplast Plastic Fish Aquarium GEO Large Aquarium Tank 6 Container for Small Animals Terrarium Insects Turtles, Sturdy Plastic, Ventilation Grills, Handle for Easy Transport, 30 x 20 x h 20,3 cm Blue
This is the same transport tank I use for Terry. He's successfully completed no less than 9 house moves like this. The lid is reasonably secure but offers good airflow and the size is just right for him. You want the transport tank to be only slightly bigger than your terrapin. This will keep them comfortable yet secure (plus a smaller tank is easier to transport!).

This will help keep your terrapin moist. Plus, you’ll often find once you start moving, the turtle will bury itself under the wet paper. This then provides extra protection from any knocks or bumps.

Keep the box close to you at all times and, with a little care, you should find your terrapin is safe and well for up to 8-12 hours.

Terrapin rescue organisations in the UK

Before giving up on your terrapin, do consider if there’s anything else you can do! It may be you simply need a little more help to know how to care for them, in which case The Turtle Guide Book may tell you what you need to know. However, if you really have no alternative, then these organisations may be able to help:

Kent Turtle Sanctuary

The mission of the Kent Turtle Sanctuary is to rescue, rehabilitate, shelter and house any turtle that comes their way. They provide a loving home with proper care, plenty of food, spacious dry/aquatic habitat for happy living conditions for their remaining lives.

Headed up by founder, Michael Butcher, they are based in Staplehurst in Kent and can be reached via their website https://theturtlesanctuary.co.uk. Michael requests that turtles needing rehoming please be delivered to their sanctuary.

The British Chelonia Group

The British Chelonia Group is an organisation to educate and inform owners of tortoises, turtles and terrapins while supporting rescue, research and conservation projects worldwide.

Based in Tamworth, Staffordshire, they have a Rehoming Officer and do rehome tortoises to their members under strict controls.  See http://www.britishcheloniagroup.org.uk/bcg-info/rehoming

Terrapin Rescue

Set up as a sanctuary for unwanted Red Ear terrapins, this is a privately funded home-for-life for this terrapin breed. Terrapins taken in are not passed on.

Further details and contact information for this East Hampshire rescue centre can be found at http://www.users.waitrose.com/~terrapinrescue/TERRAPIN%20RESCUE%20-.htm

Reptilia Reptile Rescue

Based in West Yorkshire, Reptilia Rescue Centre is a privately funded rescue and rehoming centre for reptiles.  They also do a sterling job of educating reptile owners via workshops and impromptu advice.

They can also be found and contacted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/reptilia.ossett

Other sources of information

It’s worth noting that these are the rescue and rehoming centres that I have found. Your local animal rescue centres may be able to advise or take your animals, but because of the specialist needs of terrapins they may also refuse.  If the more specialist centres are too far from your home, then here are some other sources of information that may help you in your search:

  • The Tortoise Trust in London is a membership organisation that also runs an online forum where tortoise and turtle owners can post questions about the care of these animals. They may know of rescue organisations near you.  Please note: email questions will not be answered so use the forum.
  • The British Association of Tortoise Keepers is a registered charity and membership organisation that offers advice and support on keeping tortoises. Queries should be made via the online contact form.
  • You may also wish to contact your local RSPCA, who may be able to offer you further advice.

Not just for saying goodbye

Of course, if you’re just getting interested in terrapins, or would like to expand your family with another of these wonderful animals, then a rescue terrapin may be a very rewarding as well as a compassionate choice.

Consider contacting your nearest centre instead of a breeder to see if they have the right pet for you.