How to catch turtles
How to Catch Water Turtles
If turtles live in a pond near your home, they may become a nuisance. You may want to catch and relocate the turtles. In some areas, turtle meat is a popular form of food. You may want to catch a turtle to cook later. Whatever your reasons, the process of catching a water turtle is fairly simple. All you need to do is prepare a trap, secure the turtle, and then prepare it as you see fit. Make sure to take certain precautions, like checking your state's regulation on catching turtles, before you begin.
Preparing the Trap
Determine the type of trap you need.In order to catch turtles, you'll need a trap. You can either use a baited net, if you plan on only catching one or two turtles, or a trap you set in the water.
- Floating box traps can be shaped in squares or in hoops. They're placed in shallow water near where turtles congregate. You place bait in these traps to entice turtles to enter. Usually, these traps contain a swiveling trap door that comes down and traps the turtles. You should use this type of trap if you plan on catching a large group of turtles. Floating box traps are best used if you're trapping turtles to use for food later, as you can catch quite a few turtles at once using these traps.
- If you're going for soft-shell turtles over breeds like terrapins, you may be able to catch the turtle by simply baiting a net. A lot of soft-shell turtles are captured in baited nets by mistake. If you know where turtles generally congregate, you can try baiting a net and dangling it in a river or stream.Nets also work well if you're simply trying to remove an unwanted turtle from a pond or lake for relocation purposes.
Purchase your trap.While a turtle trap can be built by hand, it's a good idea to purchase a trap if you're new to turtle trapping. The correct construction of a trap is vital to successfully catching a turtle.You do not want to risk making a faulty trap. Unless you have personal or professional experience in trap-making, purchase your own turtle trap.
- You can buy a floating box trap online, although you should be sure to read reviews of any online purchases ahead of time. You do not want to risk purchasing a faulty trap. Depending on your area, you may be able to find a floating box trap at a local hardware or hunting/fishing store. If you live in an area such as Louisiana, where turtle trapping is common, you're more likely to find a turtle trap at a local store.
- You should be able to purchase a net at most fishing stores. Make sure the net you use is strong, as turtles can fight quite a bit when captured. You should also avoid mesh-nets, as these can cause injury to a turtle.
Scout out locations where turtles live.To set up your trap, or attempt to capture a turtle in a net, start by scouting out locations where turtles may live. If you've seen turtles congregated by a rocky section in a nearby pond, this is a great place to put a trap or try and catch a turtle in your net. You can also wade through a pond or stream and see if you notice any turtles hiding in the rocks or crevices.
- If you cannot find any turtles, set your trap up in an area where they're likely to congregate. Choose a shallow area of a pond or stream near rocks and other hideaways.
Bait your trap or net.Before you place your trap or net in the water, make sure to bait the trap. For water turtles, you can use lettuce, worms, or other vegetables. You can also use a can of tuna with holes punched in the lid.You can also add sticks and foliage to the trap, making it look like an enticing place to rest.
- Where you place food-based bait varies by trap. Usually, there will be a contraption somewhere inside the trap for placing bait.
- In the rare event your trap does not have a section for bait, you can wrap bait in a mesh bag and hang the bag off one of the bars towards the back of the trap. This way, the turtle will be able to see and smell the bait, but the bait will not be released from the trap. You can also place items like this inside a net to bait a turtle.
Set up your trap.Depending on the type of trap you've chosen, set up will vary. Most turtle traps are placed in shallow water. Choose an area deep enough that only the top of the trap sticks out above water.
- To start, dig into the mud just below the water. Create a hole, shaped something like your turtle trap, that you will push the trap into until it's secure. You can dig by hand, or use a shovel.
- Once you've dug a small hole, sink your trap into the hole. Commercial turtle traps are usually fairly heavy. The trap should stay in place on its own without added weights, like rocks or stones.
Leave the trap alone.Once the trap is set up, you simply need to wait. How long you wait depends. You may be able to catch a few turtles within an hour. However, it may take almost a day for turtles to enter the trap in other cases. It all depends on how many turtles are in your area. Check the trap every few hours to see if any turtles have entered. Keep the trap up until you've captured as many turtles as you want.
Remove turtles from the trap with care.Once you've caught as many turtles as you want, you can remove them from the trap. Do so with care, making sure to use thick gloves to protect your hands. In addition to the risk of injury, turtles can carry a variety of diseases. You do not want to handle a turtle with bare hands until its clean.
- You should secure turtles in a closed container, like a cooler, before preparing them for meat.
Do not relocate a turtle on your own.If you were capturing turtles that have become pests, do not attempt to relocate the turtle on your own. Turtles require specific conditions to thrive in the wild, and the Humane Society recommends letting wild turtles remain where you found them.Therefore, if you must relocate, take your turtles to a local animal rescue or animal shelter. You can also call your local branch of animal control to help you humanely relocate the turtles.
Prepare the turtle for food.If you were catching turtles for food, you should kill the turtles shortly after capture. The easiest way to do so is simply beheading the turtle with a sharp hunting knife. You can get a turtle to protrude its head by applying pressure to the back of a turtle's shell. Then, make a quick and clean cut to remove the head fast. Make sure to wear gloves during this process to protect yourself if the turtle resists.
- From here, turn the turtle on its back. Cut off each leg. Then, make a cut through the skin or shell that's holding the top and bottom shell together.
- Place the turtle in boiling water for 10 minutes. This should cause the two shells to separate.
- Once the shell is gone, you can get to the turtle meat. You can usually get about four even quarters of meat from the fleshy area near the upper shell. If you want to preserve the ribs for a dish like tenderloin, you can cut them away from the rest of the body using a hatchet.
Check regulations in your state.Capturing turtles, whether for relocation or food, may be illegal in some states. Make sure to check with your state's Department of Natural Resources, which can be found through your state's government website. If you cannot find any precise rules about turtle capture through the DNR website, there should be a number to call somewhere on the site. You want to make sure capturing turtles is legal before doing so to avoid fines.
Wear protective gloves when handling turtles.Turtles can bite and scratch when agitated. Wear thick protective gloves throughout the entire process of handling a turtle to avoid injury.
- In the event you are injured by a turtle, wash the wound in soap and water and then seek medical care. While many turtle wounds can be addressed at home, it's a good idea to be safe. See a doctor shortly after being injured to make sure you don't need stitches or other medical care.
Be wary of salmonella.In some areas, smaller pet turtles can carry salmonella. This is usually turtles with shells less than 4 inches long. While salmonella has only been found in pet turtles in the United States, it may be a good idea to play it safe. Discard any small turtles you capture rather than relocating them or preparing them for food.
Video: Catching Turtles In A Farm Pond
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