Months ago we rescued two baby turtles off the side of the road and kept them in the house because the in-laws didn't want them to turn into snacks out in the wild. ...Now that they're bigger, they wanted to release them. But research turned out it's illegal to return wild turtles back to the wild. So now my in-laws(errr...my mother in law..specifically...) wants to keep the Painted.
But we are at a stand-still. Previous experience turned out that turtles only grow to fit their environment. Because they used to have a turtle who did that. My research is turning out that while that may be true.. it comes at a cost to the health of the turtle, and causes stress as they're not able to reach their natural size.
These guys cannot be released not only because they could carry bacteria from living in the home, but also because they were not kept on their natural diet =\ Turtle Sticks instead. Nor would they be the strongest hunters. They weren't found near water, anyway, they were found in the road, about to be hit by a car. So yeah..it's either a turtle sanctuary, or pets. And as much as I'm for a turtle sanctuary, my mother-in-law wants to keep the one. >.<
Turtles do not grow to fit their environment... though poor care and inadequate environment will stunt their growth, and it may seem that way, but really all it is doing is drastically reducing their lifespan. Except turtles are pretty tough critters, so can manage to survive for a surprisingly long time in completely inappropriate conditions. But, there is a reason why most people who know about keeping turtles refer to those little plastic things sold in pet stores as "turtle habitats" as turtle death bowls. Giving them the right variety of food, the right sized tank, and the proper lighting makes all the difference.
No animal that has been kept in captivity for any significant length of time should be released to the wild, unless specific steps were made to limit its contact with humans, and make sure its natural needs were attended to as closely as possible. In many places, it is actually illegal to release animals from captivity to the wild unless you are a qualified rehabilitator, and follow a strict protocol. Chances are, if they were just moved from where they were found, off the roadway and to the nearest body of water, they would have been just fine.
That is what we typically do. But these guys were hatchlings, and no one wanted them to turn into bite-sized snacks, so we kept them until we thought they were old enough to stand a chance. ..And screwed ourselves over at that.
Yeah.. I was pretty sure what I reading sounded right. That it does stunt their growth but at the cost to the turtle.