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Freshwater Turtles

New rules for diamondback terrapins

New rules for diamondback terrapins are effective on March 1, 2022.


A virus is impacting several freshwater turtle species. To lessen impacts of this virus, Executive Order #21-19 prohibits the take and transportation of all softshell turtles and yellow-bellied sliders.

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Freshwater Turtle Management

FWC rules prohibit taking or possessing turtles from the wild that are listed on Florida's imperiled species list.  These turtles are listed as imperiled:

  • Alligator snapping turtles (Macrochelys temminckii)
  • Barbour's map turtles (Graptemys barbouri)
  • Suwannee cooters (Pseudemys suwanniensis)

Also prohibited is taking species that look similar to the imperiled species, which include common snapping turtles and cooters.

  • Cooters (Pseudemys sp.)
  • Escambia Map Turtle (Graptemys ernsti)
  • Snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina)
  • Striped mud turtles (Kinosternon baurii; lower keys population only)

FWC rules also prohibit taking species that are biologically vulnerable, including: 

  • Diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) 

For all other freshwater turtles, take is limited to one turtle per person per day (midnight to midnight) from the wild for noncommercial use. The transport of more than one turtle per day is prohibited, unless the transporter has a license for sale or exhibition of wildlife, aquaculture certification from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, or documentation that their turtles were legally obtained (proof of purchase).

Freshwater turtles can only be taken by hand, dip net, minnow seine or baited hook. Most freshwater turtles may be taken year-round. Taking turtles with bucket traps, snares, or shooting with firearms is prohibited. Softshell turtles may not be taken from the wild from May 1 to July 31. Currently, all softshell turtles and yellow-bellied sliders are prohibited from take and transportation all year round under Executive Order #21-19. In addition, collecting of freshwater turtle eggs is prohibited.

Possession limits for the following turtle species and their eggs are as follows:

  • Loggerhead musk turtles - two
  • Box turtles - two
  • Escambia map turtles - two
  • Diamondback terrapins - zero

No one may sell turtles taken from the wild in Florida. In addition, no one may buy, sell, or possess for sale alligator snapping turtles, Barbour's map turtles, Suwannee cooters or parts thereof.

Captive Wildlife no longer issues that Class III permit for LISTED turtle species. Permitting is now handled by the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation and a Scientific Collecting Live Possession Permit is required. For more information, you can call 850-921-5990 or email

Buying, selling, taking, or possessing gopher tortoises, or parts thereof, is prohibited except by permit from the FWC executive director.

Additional regulations apply for sea turtles.

For additional information, see the Wildlife regulation 68A-25.002(9) of the Florida Administrative Code at

Non-native species that are released into the wild may compete with native species for habitat or food, prey on native wildlife, transmit diseases, or, in the case of the red-eared slider, interbreed with Florida's native wildlife. FWC Rule 68-5.001, F.A.C., prohibits the release of any non-native animal in Florida.

Red-eared sliders are a common non-native turtle that has been popular in the pet trade. Red-eared sliders are listed as a conditional species in Florida. Anyone that possessed a pet red-eared slider before July 1, 2007 can legally keep their turtle and no permit is required. However, Floridians are not allowed to acquire red-eared sliders as personal pets after that date.

Anyone importing or possessing red-eared sliders for research, exhibition, or out of state sale is required to have a Conditional/Prohibited/Nonnative Species Permit. Certified aquaculturists with restricted species authorization from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services may possess and cultivate red-eared sliders for out of state sale and for sale to permitted Florida researchers, exhibitors or dealers, or to other certified aquaculturists. Authorized aquaculturists that import red-eared sliders also must obtain a special permit.