Instructables
So, by some method, you have come into the possession of 1 or more legally edible turtles. Congratulations! They are legendarily good eating. Or, if you're into catching, cleaning, and eating turtles, there's a good chance that you might refer to them as good eatin', if that makes any difference.

What do you do with it (them)? Well, that's where this instructable comes into play.

Note: Some of the photos depict some pretty graphic turtle-ness. If you are a card-carrying Sierra Club/PETA member, or just don't want to see some turtle guts pictures right now, then don't look at this instructable.

I'm sick of people leaving comments saying that this is mean. Can you please be concerned about something infinitely more important, like the millions of innocent human beings that die each year?

If you eat meat, especially, realize that the meat you eat was once an animal. The difference between it and these turtles is that (except in the case that someone hunted the animal and gave/sold its meat to you) these turtles, while alive, were free to roam around the lake they lived in and wherever else they chose to go. The animals whose meat you buy in the store were probably kept in ridiculously small pens, fed ridiculously low-quality feed, until they were fat enough to kill profitably.

Caution: Obviously, you'll be dealing with a turtle (quite possibly a mean, old snapper), so be careful around its mouth (esp. if a snapper), and watch the claws. Also, be careful, you're using knives. And scissors, and maybe a bone saw. That bit's up to you.
 
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pkmn5 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
sleeping_gecko (author)  pkmn5 years ago
I just have a couple points I'd like you to consider. "Pig" and "hog" are pretty much interchangeable terms. As my brother discovered at the state fair when he was a child (and my grandfather took the excited child to see the hogs), "They're just big pigs!"

People can develop close relationships with cows just like they can with dogs. Both can be beautiful animals with unique traits (what you might call "personality"). Just because many people never interact with cows that aren't wrapped in plastic at the supermarket does not mean that they aren't real animals.

If you've never seen chickens, it would be easy to assume that they are annoying. All that clucking and crowing. What is a person to do? If you've actually had or tended chickens (at least those of the free range persuasion), you would probably know how amusing they can be to watch. Not to mention how efficiently they can keep down a bug problem around the yard/garden.

Why would people be universally better off eating fish than turtles? If your only reason is that turtles are cute and fish are not, let me be the one to tell you that this is a personal opinion. Many people find fish to be quite adorable, and turtles to be nasty. Put a turtle terrarium in one room, a freshwater aquarium in another. See which stinks first. Turtles won't seem as cute.

If you've never eaten turtle meat, I'm curious to find out why you assume that it would not be as tasty as fish meat.

I made sure to state clearly in the introduction that this was about preparing turtles for eating. If you somehow missed that part, and you didn't understand that the opening picture of turtles+big knives=not a turtle bubble bath, then I probably cannot help you.

I mentioned that different, "typical" American food animals can be cute or friendly. That doesn't mean I wouldn't eat them. I do eat most animals. I've never eaten dog or cat, but that's largely because I've never come across the right restaurant.

And, to answer the question (which you punctuated not as an interrogative statement but as an exclamatory), "HOW DO {I} EAT THOSE TINI {sic} CUTE TURTLES! {sic}

Fried, usually with a knife and fork. Kind of like how I like to eat squirrel.
I have personally cleaned and ate at least 20 snapping turtles in my lifetime and don't plan to stop just because someone else doesn't like it.  Yes, I will kill a turtle just as it killed and ate fish and other animals to live - it's the way man has survived for centuries, killing and eating. I always cut the shell around the head/legs/tail areas with a hatchet but I guess there are other ways.  I like them in a stew and barbequed the best and I'm sure that someone someplace has a way to make patties, etc.  There are 11 different flavors of meat in a snapping turtle, like there are 7 different flavors in a hog.(Bacon, T-loin, ham, etc.)
       I try my best to kill humanely and be as fast and efficient as possible so the animal doesn't suffer regardless as to what kind of animal it is.  I try to get the hides tanned and use everything, no waste. I feel that anything killed for sport alone is wrong, but if you plan to use all the animal then it's not so bad.  What bothers me is when an animal like, say a deer, gets hit and the meat isn't harmed totally and they put the freshly killed animal in the dump when there are so many people around the world hungry - The meat could be used in prisons or jails for one, almost fat free to boot!   
   As for the people that are vegetarians, my hat's off to you, you don't like something that you have never tasted!  That's not the way to make an informed decision, but it's your right.  I like fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, turtles, mammals, nuts and berries, and I plan to continue eating all of it for as long as I can.  It was put here to eat or use as a medicine, and I try to use everything as I see fit.  If you don't like this instructable because you are a vegetarian, please tell me why you are so interested in looking at it to start with, I don't get it..... 
I just read what you had to say in a comment almost a year ago. I have to say, you put it the way I feel, thanks. I have been fishing on the river lately and have caught a few soft shell turtles on our trot lines. Everyone has told me how good the meat was, but don't know how to clean one. Really not sure if they are legal to keep anyway. If I won't eat it, I won't kill it.
rduncan2, I am not sure if you can eat the soft shell trutles, I have only eaten the hard shell ones with tails that have 'spikes' on them and claws on their feet, they look prehistoric to me. I doubt they have changed much through evolution in the past million years or so anyway though...
Yah you can eat soft shells. The typical turtle soup is either made from a snapping (the ones with spikes) or soft shelled turtle.

ever had it with the combination of hard and soft shelled turtles? just wondering if the taste would be different?

I'd like to try a turtle soup or stew made from a soft shelled turtle sometime by someone that knows how to make one the right way since I don't. I'm game to try any new food.... I have put the hard shelled snapping turtles' meat on a grill and eaten it bar-b-qued - that was delicious!

standfieldbiz3 months ago

I realize that this is an old post, but I was curious as the season for turtle has opened here and well the darn things keep steeling my bait for the fish. Now, I was looking to see what to do with one if it ever decided to join my caught fish. Thank you, now I know. I found your 4 step instructions extremely learnable...when I catch one I will try your methods. Good hunting. :)

dortha.little3 months ago

I know this an old post, however, thank you for it. I have turtles in my pond, they have killed at least one of my ducks maybe 3. My ducks will not go back on the pond. When they go to the pond, they only get on the shallow end and are all in a wad. This will come in handy if I catch any, I have a turtle trap ordered. I think I will use a large plastic garbage can and clean them out for the seven days. However, I think I will look at someone to help me kill and clean!! Thanks again.

indywave1 year ago
Ahhh you killed a turtle. I thought you were going to like wash it or something!!!!
sleeping_gecko (author)  indywave9 months ago

I didn't realize until recently that this was in the "Pets" section. I think that was done automatically. I published this project in 2006, and I don't recall having the option of categories (I certainly can't imagine intentionally publishing it in that category, as it would needlessly offend folks looking for something else). Because I thought there may be some confusion, I put the disclaimer on the intro step.

WVKatCurse5 years ago
Thank you for the instruction. I now know how to clean hunt one. I still need to find how to bring a large one to the surface and keep him there. He is eating my mallards and geese.
sleeping_gecko (author)  WVKatCurse9 months ago

These were caught while a buddy and I were going for catfish in a lake. The line was heavy enough to bring them up most of the time (though we usually had breaks in the line, probably due to larger turtles).

Aside from building turtle traps, I haven't read up on anything aside from using heavier line and bringing them in slowly.

Since your turtle is a nuisance, it might be worth the time/effort/risk to build a trap or two and see if you can catch the bugger. (Normally, I'm not a fan of the turtle traps I've seen, as they leave a turtle sitting there until you get around to checking the trap, which, IMO, isn't too humane. In a nuisance/pest-type situation, though, that becomes a lesser concern, to me at least.)

Buiild a 4' square with large sticks/small logs (about 4" in diameter). Attach old wire fence/chicken wire to one side of square all the way across and staple (fence staples) tightly. Turn it over and drive a 4" nail pointing toward the center (sticking up at about a 45 degree angle) about every 3 to 4 inches, then clip off the heads at an angle so that you have sharp spikes about 2" long all the way around. Make sure it floats, then wire fish heads, chicken necks, etc. to middle of square. Rig up an anchor with about 10' of line and float it in your pond. (If you don't have a boat, attach a second line so you can drag it to shore) The turtles crawl in to get the bait, but can't get back past the spikes, I used this sort of rig and a .22 to get rid of about 20 snappers (largest was over 20 lbs.) from a farm pond 30 years ago. Good luck!
this method works like a charm
TheCommander9 months ago

I like the category you put this under XD

sleeping_gecko (author)  TheCommander9 months ago

Until I saw your comment, I didn't realize this was in the "Pets" category. When I originally published this project (2006), I don't remember there even being categories for different Instructables projects (though I may be mistaken). I certainly don't think I would've put it in the "Pets" category myself. If they organized things by category at a later date, I could see how this would be auto-sorted into a Pets category.

It also explains most of the comments I seem to get. Every couple months or so, it seems I get a notification of a new comment about how it's wrong/misleading... I always thought they just were ignoring the disclaimer at the beginning...didn't realize it was in the "Pets" section!! :0

LovelyGirl11310 months ago
How Does Turtle Taste Exactly? I'm Going To Try This! I've Had Gator, Snake, Deer, Coon, Beef, Pork Etc But I've Never Had Turtle...Thanks For The Idea!!
Excellent post and I applaud your stand against the naysayers. I, like you, enjoy the fruits that Mother Nature provides for us. Whether it be animal, vegetable, or mineral. My family and I enjoy hunting, fishing, and picking. A friend of mine once said, "If God didn't want us to eat animals, He wouldn't have made them out of meat". That said, Michigan's turtle season opens next Monday, and I intend to participate. Good fishing!!!!!
I thought you were going to clena teh seaweed off its shell to keep it as a pet then i saw the knives and I thought to myself "like hmm that's a weird way to clean seaweed off a tutrle, OHhhhhh...."
DSR20031 year ago
You monster. How could you do something like
That was really interesting. I didn't even know you could still catch turtles. Pretty cool.
darthbindy3 years ago
poor turtles! =(
but as you said, and i agree, there still meant, and therfore i have no problem with you eating them, but did you kill them quickly?
sleeping_gecko (author)  darthbindy3 years ago
Certainly. They were killed swiftly, by decapitation. Don't get me wrong, I think turtles are adorable, but I also think ducks, goats, cows, etc. are cute, too. I have no problem with eating animals, so long as they are killed humanely and treated with appropriate respect (i.e., not wasted, mocked, etc).
good. =D
aruno3 years ago
Good tutorial, but the title really should be "How to prepare a turtle", so as to attract the correct audience.
klaw33 years ago
Thanks for sharing. I always get the turtle already cut up in the wet market and wonder how they do it.
dcapotosti3 years ago
Wish I had found this before I went fishing. The last few nights I have caught at least 10 soft shelled turtles ranging from the size of a small plate to the size of a manhole. I had heard they were good eating, so I did a search on them and found your instructional. I am ready to go back for another night now. How much meat do you get from each one and can you grill the meat??
afairbanks3 years ago
Can you eat Red-eared sliders? I caught a huge one at work today and was wanting to eat it, but after reading some of your posts I want to make sure that is a species that is edible.
dfernstrom3 years ago
Yes, turtles certainly do feel pain--all vertebrate animals do (and so do a select few invertebrates, such a squid, to a more limited degree). I recommend that you not only remove the animal's head, but also go to the trouble of destroying the brain (either before or immediately afterward). There is some evidence to suggest that, due to their extremely low oxygen requirements, a reptile's brain can remain active and alive for some time after the head is removed from the body. You should also destroy the brains of fish before you clean them, for the same reason. Just because an animal relies on its environment to regulate its body temperature does not mean its senses or ability to feel are impaired.

Reptiles, amphibians, cephalopods, and fish also experience very simple emotions. How do we know this? We're at a level of understanding where we can control computers with our brainwaves--determining whether an animal has the right brain parts to enable it to feel or emote is much simpler.

So, for the sake of being humane, treat your fish, frogs, and turtles the same way you would a squirrel or rabbit. Do not go out of your way to frighten, distress, or cause pain to them. Besides, stress chemicals may make the meat less tasty.
hi Instructables!!
i have kept turtles for a few years now, i adore them as pets,
i also kept Pigs, and various birds,

i am writing to say to those taht say this is "cruel" that it is not cruel in any way, it is infact a far more sustainable way to maintain a method of sustainable meat farming, its not like these animals where bought in a pet store.

also it helps to keep the population down, i would rather see three turts on a plate then dead on a road, in an inadequate tank or setup in general.

however, i would like to see how many of those that deem this practise of turtle eating as gross or wrong, have actually seen how pork gets to the home or beef or chicken,
all these animals have wild behaviors that we surpress or just ignore for our benifit,

a pig gets pinnedand tied to the ground while in labour, when she really wants to nest and move.

cattle are kept in herds untill they are funnelled into a run, where they get to line up hear their companions crys of agony and then can only move forward.

and chickens, they are either fed until their legs are useless, or, have their legs broken and sit in a cage being pumped hormones to lay eggs all the time.

how would you feel to give birth all day, everyday, thats what is happening to those poor defencless animals that see nothing but the same field, the same cage, the same steel barn.

now who is being cruel??
Cheezpaper4 years ago
I came here looking how to clean my pet turtle... =\
lol, same here...
rasterdan5 years ago
Are there any types of turtles that are not edible? I live in FL and plan to give this a try. We have tons of red-ear sliders and other water turtles in the streams. Also I am traveling to TN in June and there is a pond with turtles of unknown type that I would be very interested in catching. I had turtle soup in Philly that was out of this world and want to try making it myself. I am not interested in salt-water turtles because I believe they are protected and they need all the help they can get. Thanks for this instructable, I am forwarding to my friend and brother. Fantastic!
Rasterdan, stick with the Snappers!! There are several species that ARE NOT edible. I know, because my Cajun self has tried several! I'm from Louisiana. You will note a taste that will make you never want to eat another turtle, ever again if you try the wrong type!! You can't go wrong with the Snappers and that's what species of turtles food establishments will serve. I hope this reply was helpful to you. Etienne.
hi guys my first time. someone told me that the shell is like scallopes can u eat it softshell is what i have & can u bleed &  clean next day??? help help!!!!!!
sleeping_gecko (author)  brenda sloan4 years ago
I don't know about eating the shell, I think they're inedible.

Do you mean bleeding the turtle out, then cleaning it the next day?  If you're looking at doing that because of time, it would probably be better to leave them in the bathtub full of water or in a trash can with water in it.  I would try to avoid leaving the dead turtle with its organs in there for too long, as it could taint the meat (both in flavor and possibly with pathogens).

Good luck, though!  They can be "good eatin'!"
ianbar207 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
just becuz people do not eat the same food as you do doesnt mean it isnt food... heck if u tried it u might evn like it... people eat all sorts of things... and theres no such thing as gud taste or bad taste... ita all in ur head kid... asians eat stuff u cant imagine... u think they have been eating those stuff just to piss u off? or cuz they havent had friends for the past centuries??? its cuz its tasty to them... u broke the first rule of instructables.com and that is "be nice"... my advice to u is be more open minded about things...
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