Are Eastern Box Turtles Protected From Being Pets in Georgia?

Eastern Box Turtles caught in Georgia are not “okay” to keep as pets in Georgia.

Basics of their needs and sexual dimorphism:  Needs to be within a couple thousand yards of drinking water and humidity. Male has red eyes, female, has orange or brown.

box turtles as pets
Illegal as pet if caught locally. But feel free to ship as many as you want out of state to sell out of state. They won’t even go GET them if they’re sitting at a wholesale out of state.

Legal (however) to harvest by the thousands and sell out of state and overseas:
If you find one that’s been damaged on the road: I can treat and release at no cost.
Roaming ‘home’ after capture is a popular misbelief. It’s true that (especially) male box turtles have a “territory” and they will patrol their enclosure for a while after capture to “see” about an escape route –  but they will not cross the country to get back to their birthplace.

They make marvelous pets, eat very well on common low protein dog food (low protein is the key or feed Mazuri Box Turtle Food (hello Amazon!)
I would feel guilty keeping a *country* wild-caught Box Turtle as a pet because in the middle of nowhere and away from mowers, those have half a chance.
The majority of ‘yard box turtles’ however; end up dog-gnawed, mowed in the lawn, starved for lack of slugs worms berries and mushrooms, or hit in the road.

Turtles have been my ‘jam’ since I was 7 years old, which was a very long time ago. We had more Box Turtles in Marietta in 1975 – they would have 5 crawling around on Old Canton road after any rain. I know enough about turtles to have captive bred a threatened species. Geochelone denticulata

Dr Erik Johnson is a Marietta, Georgia Veterinarian with a practice in small animal medicine. He graduated from University of Georgia with his Doctorate in 1991. Dr Johnson is the author of several texts on Koi and Pond Fish Health and Disease as well as numerous articles on dog and cat health topics.