Adoption Program

GCTTS Adoption Program

Prior to Adoption

  • All turtles and tortoises are evaluated, treated for illness, malnutrition, and kept for an observation period. Tortoises and some exotics may be adopted out "as is".
  • Turtles are not available for pick-up if they are hibernating, however Adoption Applications are still processed during the winter months to facilitate a quick pick-up following hibernation.
  • For adoption applications received during the winter and before April 1st, these will be processed and if approved, turtles can be picked up as soon as they pass their post-hibernation examinations. For applications received after April 1st, these will be processed as time permits so those turtles may not be available for pick up until the summer. In March and April GCTTS is very busy with post-hibernation examinations and Earth Day Events.
  • See the link at the end of this page for photos of turtles and tortoises available for adoption.

Basic Requirements for Adoption:

  • Native species must be housed outdoors in spacious natural habitats.
    • For multiple box turtles in communal pen, a minimum of 16 square feet (4' x 4') is required for each adult turtle. More space is needed if males are housed together and if sexes are mixed.
  • Minimum pen size for one turtle is about 30 square feet (4' x 8'). Larger is always better with turtles.
  • Non-natives must be housed outdoors in spacious natural habitats when the weather permits. Provision for over-wintering non-hibernating species must be provided.
  • Adoptions will not be made to overcrowded habitats, and male/female ratios must be appropriate, at least 2 females for each male.
  • Non-related species must be housed separately with no run-off from one pen to another.
  • You must be a current member of GCTTS and be 18 or older to adopt. There is no adoption fee, although any donations are sincerely appreciated as GCTTS is an all volunteer, non-profit, donation funded group. For details about joining, please see our Membership Information page.
  • We must receive a completed Adoption Application.
  • We must receive a photograph of your outdoor enclosure - please limit photograph size to 800x600 pixels.

Please Consider Before you Adopt

  • If you end up with male and female turtles of the same species, you must be ready to deal with babies when they mature. One red-eared turtle female may produce more than 25 babies each year. Turtles remain fertile years after mating. With hatchlings, you will not know the sexes. If you do not want to deal with hatchlings, different species with similar habitat requirements, such as a cooter and a red-eared turtle, can be kept together.
    • Please note: GCTTS will not take in baby turtles that result from turtles adopted from GCTTS.
  • New additions to an existing population should be isolated for 3 months before being housed together. Turtles can mask illnesses and will be stressed when relocated. The additional stress can bring out the hidden illness.
  • Those adopting tortoises should have bloodwork done by a veterinarian to rule out illnesses such as mycoplasma and hepatitis before placing them with other tortoises.
  • In-ground enclosures are required for tortoise, box and adult female water turtles. You will need to include a land area in your enclosure or around your pond for digging a nest should any adopted turtles turn out to be female. They usually form infertile eggs even if never mated and need a land area to dig a deep nest. If they cannot dig a nest, they will try to retain the eggs, causing potentially fatal illness.
  • Turtles are great climbers. You will need to fence the enclosure to prevent escapes. The enclosure needs to be protected from native predators such as raccoons and skunks.
  • Above ground pools such as deep stock tanks are acceptable for hatchling and juvenile water turtles, with the water depth a minimum of 24". When 3 to 4 inches shell length, native turtles must be provided with a spacious in-ground pond and provided access to nesting grounds. Note that shading must be provided to prevent overheating.

Steps to Adoption

  • Adoption is only available to GCTTS members in good standing.
  • Our Adoption Applications (for Box Turtles and Tortoises) are available online (see links below).
  • Members may e-mail or write us at GCTTS, 1227 Whitestone Ln, Houston, TX 77073 and request that an adoption application form be mailed or sent via email to them. For the fastest response to your request, please email us.
  • Application forms must include clear photos demonstrating a secure, suitable outdoor habitat appropriate for the species being requested.
  • Application forms are carefully reviewed for appropriate information related to the wellbeing of the turtle. We want to make sure that your habitat is of adequate size, can house the requested turtle(s) safely, and that you have adequate knowledge of the turtle's requirements.
  • Note that beginners are welcome to apply for many species, as GCTTS can offer advice and guidance in quality turtle care.
  • You will need to schedule a pick up from a designated GCTTS member.
  • Processing time varies, most requests are processed and completed within four weeks.
  • Adoption Applications are accepted at any time, although turtles are usually not available during the winter hibernation months.
  • GCTTS reserves the right to decline membership and / or Adoption Applications.


GCTTS does NOT ship species native to the Houston, Texas area, nor do we ship any species that fare well in our climate. We only ship species that require a climate different than that of Houston. There is one exception to this rule. We will adopt to people living in the San Antonio area but they would have to wait for the GCTTS member there to make a trip to Houston to pick up the turtle(s)/tortoise(s).

GCTTS ships animals only by Delta Dash, a direct flight shipping service, and cannot pay for shipping. Local homes are preferred for native Texas species. Exotic species requiring specific outdoor environments, such as low humidity, are occasionally available to homes in appropriate climates within the United States.



Adoption Applications:

Tortoise Adoption Form43.95 KB
Water Turtle Adoption Form193.75 KB
Box Turtle Adoption Form42.05 KB