Pets- even native species- cannot be released into the wild under any circumstance.  There are many, many reasons it is illegal, immoral, and unethical to release pet reptiles into the wild.  Some of them are listed below.

One reasons it is illegal to release is that pets are often used to humans. It is extremely dangerous for any wild animal to be comfortable around people, as most individuals do not take kindly to being approached by wildlife. Usually wild animals are killed by humans when they get too close, and pets are prone to approach humans in search of an easy meal. Releasing a pet could be signing it's death warrant.

Most exotic pets are not native to the area of release, but often they will adapt to the environment and cause problems within the local ecosystem. These invasive species usually take food, habitat, and resources from our native wildlife. Sometimes the invasive species will eat our native wildlife, significantly depleting numbers. Often the native animals being affected and pushed out by invasive species are those which are endangered or unstable to begin with. An excellent example of invasive species in Ohio are red eared slider turtles.

Another reason it is illegal to release pets is because of the possibility of disease transmission. A pet reptile could have picked up an illness, bacteria, parasites, etc in captivity that other wild animals have never been exposed to. Many of these conditions do not exhibit symptoms or give any indication that an animal is infected. Pets often come through distributors, importers, breeders, pet stores, trade shows, and/or flea markets, and often animals in these situations are subjected to severe overcrowding, malnourishment, and other poor husbandry conditions that can have detrimental effects on health. Pets can spread these illnesses and disease to wildlife, which can lead to significant damage to wild populations.

These are only some of the reasons that releasing your pet into the wild can potentially harm other wildlife or cause some ecological disaster, and your pet's life would be at risk any time it came across a human. But released pets are not the only threat; even wildlife should not be released after being kept in captivity for many of the same reasons.

Furthermore, many pets released into the wild locally cannot survive the extreme temperature swings common to our area. Their preferred food source may not exist here, and many reptiles cannot hibernate through the winter. Exotic pet reptiles released locally will most certainly die in a short period of time.

If that isn't enough reason to keep some from releasing their pets into the wild, perhaps this will... IT IS ILLEGAL. Yes, you can be fined. Yes, you can be cited and hauled into court. Yes, there are penalties if you get caught. Because of the reasons stated in this article, it is against the law to release an animal into the wild.

Even for rehabilitators, the ODNR Division of Wildlife sets down some pretty strict rules and regulations about native reptiles and wildlife in Ohio. If a wild animal is found, it can only be released by an authorized wildlife rehabilitator, and even then the animal must be released in the location found. If an animal has been in captivity for more than a ceratin period of time, it can never be released into the wild again. If it has been exposed to other animals, pets, or wildlife, it can never be released. If you find a wild animal and it is not injured or in danger, the best advice is to leave it alone. It is acceptable to move an animal from a roadway or other obvious danger, but be sure to leave the animal in the immediate vicinity. Moving them around won't reduce the chances of being hit by a car or finding people. They are mobile and always seem to find trouble somehow.

We hope that you have found this information useful in helping you make an informed, responsible decision regarding your pet. We are confident that most individuals, once made aware of these potential ramifications, would not be so foolish as to release a pet into the wild. There is much more at stake than most people are aware of.