Snapping Turtle Laws in Ohio

By John Lindell; Updated April 24, 2017
Snapping turtles are a common reptile throughout Ohio.

Snapping turtles are common throughout Ohio, with many people seeking them as either pets or for food. Ohio has certain rules and regulations concerning turtles, with the common snapping turtle covered by these laws. These Ohio laws regarding turtles cover things such as taking them from Ohio’s waterways, which some individuals do for the purpose of eating the snapper or for making it a pet. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources enforces these laws regarding reptiles such as the snapping turtle.

Licenses for Turtles

Ohio law requires that you possess a valid fishing license in Ohio to take turtles, including the common snapping turtle, from any waters within the state legally. Ohio allows you to fish in ponds, reservoirs and lakes that are under private ownership without a license, but only if fish do not make migrations between that body of water and another. However, turtles, as well as frogs, are not included in this law, meaning that when you harvest snapping turtles from such settings, you still need a valid Ohio fishing license.

Releasing Captive Snappers

If you capture a snapping turtle in a state or country somewhere other than in Ohio, you cannot release that turtle into the wild within the state’s borders. Another law that concerns species such as the common snapping turtle notes that an individual may not release any “captively produced” amphibian or reptile into the wild in Ohio. This means that you cannot free any offspring of a snapping turtle hatched when the turtle is captive as a pet, or for some other reason, into the state. This law applies even if the snapping turtle that parented the young originated from Ohio.

Stipulations for Release

You may release a snapping turtle that you capture in Ohio back into the wild in the state under certain conditions. One is that the animal cannot have been captive for a period of more than 30 days. Another is that the turtle cannot have been in an enclosure with another amphibian or reptile, since the transmission of disease is possible under such circumstances. You must release the snapper close by to the place where you caught it originally unless you have a written authorization from the Ohio Division of Wildlife that you may release it elsewhere.

Passive Integrated Transponders

Ohio law requires anyone keeping a snapping turtle that has an upper shell (carapace) length exceeding 4 inches to implant a tag called a passive integrated transponder under the reptile’s skin. Anyone authorized by the turtle’s owner may implant these tags. The Ohio Division of Wildlife sells these special tags.

About the Author

John Lindell has written articles for "The Greyhound Review" and various other online publications. A Connecticut native, his work specializes in sports, fishing and nature. Lindell worked in greyhound racing for 25 years.