Turtle Adoption: Top 8 Turtle Rescues in California! (2024) 

Turtles are amazing creatures with incredibly long lifespans for years of companionship. Some turtles live over 100 years, while most live for several decades, which is why we have a list of the best turtle rescues in California for you right here.

Unfortunately, some people purchase pet turtles without realizing they’re signed up for over 30 years of care, tank maintenance, and space requirements.

When the realization sets in, turtle owners surrender their pets to someone better prepared for proper turtle care.

Adopting turtles is a fun way to give a loving home to a pet in need. If you want to surrender or adopt turtles in California, check out these top eight turtle rescue centers, shelters, and sanctuaries.

Other articles you would like: Adopt A Cockapoo and Samoyed Adoption.

Why Do Turtles End Up in California Shelters?


A pet turtle can celebrate 100 birthdays, though most live for 40 to 50 years. This long lifespan is a huge commitment for a caregiver and one of the main reasons turtles end up in shelters. Other reasons include the following:

  • Owner dying 
  • Turtle overgrows tank environment 
  • Tank maintenance is too much work 
  • Owner moving 
  • A new pet or house member joins the family 
  • Neglect, abuse, and abandonment 

Some turtle owners release their pets into the wild, assuming they will find a new happy life in nature. However, pet turtles can carry diseases or bacteria that may harmfully affect the entire surrounding ecosystem.

Top 8 Turtle Rescues in California 


Check out these eight turtle adoption centers in California to find a new family friend that will give you years of love and entertainment.

All of these turtle rescue centers require potential adopters to fill out a questionnaire about the living conditions available for the turtle.

This form helps place turtles into homes with experienced turtle owners who can provide the proper care for these inspiring creatures.

Not all animal shelters in California accept turtles and tortoises because of the space they require. Don’t fret; the eight shelters below all accept adoption forms and surrendered turtles and tortoises.

1. California Turtle and Tortoise Club 


The California Turtle and Tortoise Club (CTTC) is one of the best places for turtle adoption. Potential pet owners can find an adoptable turtle from one of the CTTC’s 13 locations across the state.

The CTTC also partnered with the Sunland Water Gardens sanctuary for rescue turtles, where curious potential pet owners can visit the turtles during operating hours.

Those interested in adopting must fill out the adoption application form to begin the adoption process. This process ensures adoptive parents have the suitable tanks, experience, and conditions for the species they want to bring home.

California Turtle and Tortoise Club Details:

2. California Turtle and Tortoise Society 


The California Turtle and Tortoise Society (CTTS) is a not-for-profit company that has served Southern California since 1964. The CTTS is involved with educational programs, rescue efforts, and conservation efforts for turtles and tortoises.

Here, you can adopt turtles and tortoises after signing up for a membership and getting in touch with Jesus Saenz at 310-308-4971.

The CTTS official website also has valuable resources about CTTS events and expeditions that gather the Southern California turtle community. Website visitors will also have access to the CTTS database of photos of turtles from around the world.

California Turtle and Tortoise Society Details: 

3. Tortoise Acres Rescue and Sanctuary 


Head to the Tortoise Acres Rescue and Sanctuary (TARS) for turtle adoptions in Anderson, California. This rescue center and sanctuary rehabilitate and rehomes tortoises and turtles.

Tortoise Acres is one of the largest turtle sanctuaries in America and is home to around 80 tortoises. Over the past decade, TARS has found homes for more than 700 turtles in Northern California and beyond if you’re willing to travel.

Schedule an appointment in advance to adopt a turtle from Tortoise Acres; walk-ins are not accepted.

The TARS website includes resources for turtle and tortoise owners, stories written by experts at TARS, and even funny turtle jokes.

Tortoise Acres Details: 

4. The Turtle and Tortoise Rescue of Arroyo Grande


The Turtle and Tortoise Rescue of Arroyo Grande (TTRAG) has been operating since 1992. This rescue center provides a peaceful space for injured animals to rehabilitate before being returned to the wild or put into a loving home.

The TTRAG offers turtle adoption and accepts surrendered or rescued animals. Fill out the TTRAG adoption form to start the adoption process.

If you’re curious about turtles, the TTRAG has scheduled tours of their 5-acre turtle sanctuary, where visitors can get close to the turtles and tortoises and learn about the rescue animals.

The Turtle and Tortoise Rescue of Arroyo Grande Details: 

5. San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society 


The San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society (SDTTS) is one of the largest places of its kind and boasts over 40 years of experience rescuing and caring for turtles.

With sea turtle rescue, turtle rehabilitation, and conservation efforts under its belt, the SDTTS is one of the best places to find a long-lived reptile companion.

This turtle rescue center has more than 500 residents that potential pet owners can adopt after completing the adoption form.

For those interested in becoming a turtle parent down the line, check out the monthly Zoom meetings with educational talks with veterinarians and turtle specialists.

Or, if you’re interested in taking action for turtle conservation, the San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society accepts donations and volunteers.

San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society Details: 

6. Reptile Rescue Mission Viejo


Reptile Rescue Mission Viejo is run by 17-year-old Bram, who cares for hundreds of reptiles. His passion for caring for creatures is contagious, making this one of the best places near Mission Viejo for turtle adoption.

At Reptile Rescue, the adoption process is fun for the whole family. Bram helps families explore many exciting species and learn about caring for different reptiles to find a suitable companion.

Potential pet owners must get in touch with Reptile Rescue Mission Viejo for an adoption application form.

Reptile Rescue Mission Viejo has been rescuing turtles and other reptiles for over five years and has helped hundreds of animals in the process.

Reptile Rescue Mission Viejo Details: 

7. LA Animal Services 


LA Animal Services helps all animals, including turtles, alongside cats, dogs, and birds. With locations in Van Nuys, San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Chatsworth, LA Animal Services is one of the best places to find a rescue turtle close to you.

Potential pet owners can visit animals without an appointment on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays during opening hours.

However, suppose you want to see an animal on Wednesdays and Fridays. In that case, you must schedule an appointment through their online platform.

Keep in mind that since LA Animal Services accepts most animals, not all locations have space to care for turtles. Contact the location nearest you before visiting to ensure they have adoptable turtles at that chapter.

LA Animal Services Details: 

8. Turtle Island Restoration Network 


The Turtle Island Restoration Network is a sea turtle rescue center that works to conserve marine life along the coasts of California and the entire ocean.

This rescue and rehabilitation center works to protect critical turtle habitats, clean up garbage, and research sea turtles and other marine life.

The Turtle Island Restoration Network doesn’t have pet turtles looking for a home. Instead, this sea turtle rescue center offers symbolic adoptions to help offset the costs of rehabilitating and conserving marine life.

Those interested in helping save the natural habitats for turtles in California can support the Turtle Island Restoration Network by adopting a turtle, donating, or volunteering their time.

Turtle Island Restoration Network Details: 

Conclusion For “Turtle Adoption – Top 8 Turtle Rescues in California”


Caring for a rescue turtle is a rewarding experience that helps keep ecosystems free of invasive and non-native species and provides care for living creatures.

Families can enjoy decades of companionship with a pet turtle and feel good knowing they rescued a turtle.

These top eight turtle rescues in California are the best choices for adopting turtles in the sunshine state.

With years of experience and educated caregivers, these shelters and rescue centers have your new slow and steady friend waiting for you to take home.

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