Snapshot 47 (28-08-2012 17-21)

western painted turtle

NOTE: Be aware that keeping wild turtles as pets is inhumane and unhealthy. Once you catch a turtle, ALWAYS make sure you put him back where you found him. Here's how to catch one.


  1. Locate a place where turtles live. You can normally find one around smaller ponds that are damp with plenty of hiding spots and rocks. If the water is down slightly, you will probably find the most success on the very edge of the water, if possible.
  2. Dig a trap. This should be about ten inches deep, and ten inches across, with very steep sides. Make it a rectangle or a square or a circle; it's not really a big factor in catching the turtle. 
  3. Line the trap with bait. Turtles enjoy lettuce and worms, mostly, but you can experiment with different vegetables if you'd like. Place a good amount of bait in the trap, especially if you plan on leaving the trap for a day and coming back later. 
  4. Set up bait around the trap. Place enough around the trap that the turtle will notice it, but it won't fill it up. A shredded lettuce leaf with the bits scattered all around the trap works well. 
  5. Wait for a turtle to notice the food. Let it eat it; eventually it will notice the food in the hole. When it does, wait until it falls in to approach. If the turtle ignores or doesn't notice the food, approach quietly behind it, and give it a quick tap on the tail with a small stick. This will, more than likely, startle the turtle, causing it to run forward, right into the hole. 
  6. Remove the turtle from the trap. Grip it lightly around the middle; make sure to keep your fingers away from the turtle's limbs. Turtles have large claws that can scratch surprisingly hard, and many are powerful biters, do it right. 


  • It's best to leave a turtle in its natural habitat instead of taking it home to be your pet. If it seems happy where it lives, just leave it there. However, if you got it in an industrialized place, or somewhere where its life could be endangered, you can feel good about taking it and protecting its life.
  • When feeding your turtle it is best to give him small, live fish to train his hunting skills in case you ever have to let him go. Also live worms or vegetables are very good.
  • If you have even less time to spend than this, just leave the trap for a while. It may take more than one attempt, as other things may eat the bait, but if you do it well enough, this will work if you leave it.
  • Before you try to catch a turtle it's best to know what kind of turtles live in your area. Some turtles are harmless and you won't even need a a pond.
  • If you are afraid to pick the turtle up due to safety issues and you know that you're going to be looking for turtles, bring a small container or maybe a medium sized cup and fill it with water and bugs that you find along the way. Or, you can wear maybe two layers of gardening gloves or snow gloves so you won't get mud on your hands and you won't get scratched or bitten.


  • Recognize which species you are trapping. Know your state's laws and follow them accordingly. Some species are illegal to capture or keep, and should be left alone.
  • Do not dig the hole more than 11in. That could severely hurt the turtle.
  • Beware of snapping turtles. They have long necks that can reach back and snap off your fingers! It's best to just let them be.

Things You'll Need

  • Good location
  • Bait
  • Shovel
  • Tape measure
  • Turtle
  • Possibly a stick
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