I'm moving! What are my options?

Sprockets, a Burmese mountain tortoise that was abandoned in a park. He now has a great life!

Moving doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to your friend. You wouldn't leave your dog behind just because you were moving, so why should your turtle be any different? There are many great options out there that will enable you to take your turtle on all of life's journeys. Turtles can be safely transported via car or plane, and temporary foster homes are a great option for people who will only be gone a set period of time. See below for more details and choose the options that are best for you!


Safe car transportation

The best and safest way to transport turtles is in a dry box. Sloshing water can present drowning hazards in cars and can be stressful. These are the key points to traveling with a turtle.


Always use an opaque box / container (being able to see out is stressing, since the turtle will want to be out)


Keep the box or container small, only a little bigger than the turtle. Turtles find tight places comforting.
Too much space means stress and trying to wander a way out.


Extreme heat or cold can kill. Make sure the turtle in his transporter is the last item loaded into the car and the first item unloaded.

Since there are two perfectly good routes to take I will go over both: Using a cardboard box and using an opaque plastic container.

Cardboard Box:


Make sure to put 4 to six ¼” holes for air at the top of the box. Do not be excessive, we want to keep the box dark.


Put a dry kitchen towel or balled up paper towel at the bottom of the box to cushion the turtle.


Add turtle and cover with additional cloth or paper towel.


Close and even tape lid. A loose turtle in a car is not a fun adventure at highway speeds.

Plastic Container:


Take a kitchen towel or plenty of paper towels, ball up and moisten with water. This will add cushioning and humidity for the turtle comfort.


Add turtle and place a second, dry kitchen towel or paper towels over the turtle.


Close lid… if lid does not snap or lock, use some tape.

For the second method I did not mention air holes. Most of these storage containers have holes, especially around the handles and around the lid. If you do not see air holes, use a drill to place a few in the lid. Remember, turtles don’t breathe like warm blooded animals, if this turtle needed to he could go a half hour without taking a breath.

On the day of the move, after the turtle has been boxed up, keep him in a quiet place until everything is loaded. If done perfectly, he will take a nap during the trip. In the car, do not place the box directly in line with an air conditioning vent, car cabin temp is perfect. If he is a scratcher in the box, and some are, try not to give in and open up the box during the journey. It will not comfort him and he will be just as impatient being held.

Finally, in all cases short of hatchlings, turtles should be transported one turtle per container. You can divide a larger box to have to compartments, but two scrabbling turtles in one container can cause eye injuries.

Air travel options

Contrary to popular belief, turtles can be shipped via plane. UPS, FEDEX, and DeltaDash all offer reptile transportation. Each has their pros and cons, so be sure to pick one that works best for you. When shipping, keep in mind to never ship near a holiday, keep an eye on the weather to avoid temperature extremes or storms, and only ship in the beginning of the week.

UPS live animal policy

Delta Dash → For more detailed information click here

FedEx → Shipments must be approved. For more information, contact the FedEx Live Animal Desk at 1.800.405.9052

Temporary fostering

Often, moves are only temporary. College, a seasonal job, or an extended vacation should never be a reason for you to need to re-home your pet. Contact family and friends to see if someone is willing to temporarily home your friend while you are away. Turtles are incredibly long-lived animals, and in the grand scheme of their lives your temporary trip is nothing.

Bubbles, a red-eared slider, enjoying a tasty strawberry

It's too much work...

It's too much work you say? Turtle care should be an easy and enjoyable experience. If that doesn't fit your situation, you might be a victim of one of the five most common turtle care errors. Click here to find out simple solutions.

If you simply cannot find a way to keep your friend with you, you can open a placement case with the Turtle Rescue League.