Arrowhead Reptile Rescue was started in 1991 and is a network of rehabilitators and foster homes located in the Greater Cincinnati area. We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue of displaced reptiles and to herpetological education. Arrowhead is supported solely through donations and private contributions, and we are run by a small staff of volunteers. We are fully licensed and approved by ODNR and the USFWS for education and reptile rehabilitation.

Our mission is to help unwanted, sick, or injured reptiles. Any species of reptile or amphibian is a candidate for help at Arrowhead. We focus our efforts on wildlife rehabilitation, but we also assist captive pet reptiles. Arrowhead has helped over 5000 reptiles to date. We have returned hundreds of native reptiles back to the wild after rehabilitation.

Our second, yet equal objective is to provide accurate information about reptiles to the general public. We regularly give educational shows to elementary and grade schools, youth organizations, and any other person or organization who requests such a presentation for the sole purpose of education. We also will provide professional training for law enforcement, humane societies, animal control, and wildlife officials.

We work in cooperation with zoos, aquariums, museums, park districts, nature centers, law enforcement agencies, animal shelters and humane societies from all over the US. Arrowhead volunteers also serve as members of a number of national and state Disaster Animal Response Teams. In the event of a natural disaster or emergency situation, we will shelter and/or provide care for stranded or displaced reptiles.

ARR has relocated hundreds of former pet alligators to Florida wildlife sanctuaries over the past two decades, but we discontinued this service after the passage of the Ohio Exotic Animal Ban.

One of our most frequent activities is wildlife rehabilitation. Injured or sick wild-caught animals are released back into the wild after rehabilitation (if appropriate). Animals that are not releasable into the wild or require long term care usually become permanently established in a rehabilitation or education program with an authorized organization.

We also help arrange for the placement of captive pet reptiles into suitable homes. We make every effort to ensure that the new home and reptile pet will be compatible. We have numerous foster homes that can take in a limited number of unwanted pets, and we help coordinate direct transfers from owner to owner when we cannot take in an animal ourselves.

We pride ourselves in offering the animals in our care the very best habitats and diets possible. All cages are secure and fully automated. Cage environments are duplicated to the fullest extent that we can achieve. Food items are always fresh, feeding is constantly supervised, and vitamin and mineral supplements are used accordingly. Wild reptiles are never housed with captive animals, and we follow all recommended quarantine protocols.

Veterinary and medical treatments are given when necessary. Our rescue veterinarian, Dr. R.D. Dahlhausen, specializes in reptiles and exotics, and we have in-house veterinary technicians. We provide on-site intensive care, including IV's and tube-feeding. We have a firm No-Kill policy... we DO NOT euthanize any animal, except when recommended by veterinarians due to an incurable or untreatable medical condition and the animal will not have any quality of life.

SAFETY is our main concern!
We take every possible measure to maintain safety. Our enclosures are designed to be escape-proof and locked. Only appropriate equipment is used when transporting animals. During educational presentations we maintain control of the animals at all times.

Our volunteers are provided training and experience. Besides qualified veterinarians, technicians, and wildlife rehabilitators we also have an EMT/paramedic on staff and in attendance at many of our education programs.

We are an Ohio charitable 501(c)3 non-profit organization made up of all volunteers that work out of our homes. Our funding comes mostly out of pocket or by donations. All donations and adoption fees go to provide food, cages, husbandry equipment, and medical care.  YOUR DONATIONS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE.
 IRS 501(c)3  #90-0942484

The majority of our activities, in general, take place in the southwest Ohio area. If you live outside of Ohio, Kentucky, or southeastern Indiana, we will accept donated animals but the owner must arrange transportation and/or pay for shipping. The owner is also responsible for obtaining health certificates or permits as required. Be aware there are state and federal laws that may apply to transporting reptiles across state lines.

Visits are granted for business reasons by appointment only.


  0-99      FAQ about Arrowhead Reptile Rescue
100-199  FAQ about native Ohio wildlife
200-299  FAQ about pet reptiles and general reptile FAQ

Q #1 Why can't I find an address or location on your web page?

A #1:    We operate out of foster homes, and for the privacy and protection of our volunteers and their families we do not publish their home addresses.  Our foster homes are not open to the public and we schedule visits for rescue business by appointment only.   We also don't give out this information because we would have six iguanas at our door every morning.  Feel free to email us if you need a mailing address

Q #2:  I live hours away from Cincinnati.  Will someone meet me halfway or pick up my pet reptile?

A #2:    Sorry, if we did this for all those who request it we would spend all of our time driving.  We can't ask our volunteers to spend their time and money picking up other people's unwanted pets.

Q #3:  Why do you ask for an intake donation?  What if I can't afford to give a donation? 

A #3:    Providing quality food, medical care, heat and habitats for reptiles is expensive.  We operate on donations alone and it is how we can survive and continue to provide care for reptiles in need.  Responsible owners should provide something to care for their pet so we ask for a donation to help provide that care.  We can and will waive those donations on a case-by-case basis if you truly cannot afford to give anything.  Your donation is tax deductible.

Q #4:  What is an appropriate donation for my pet reptile?

A #4:    That's up to you.  Whatever you can afford is appreciated.  You know how much it costs to feed and care for your animal.  A donation should fit accordingly to provide care for at least a couple of months.  Some give the minimum amount, others donate $100 or more.  Would you rather give money to us or the IRS?  Your generosity is appreciated and helps reptiles in need and your donation is tax deductible.

Q #5:  I want my pet to go to a zoo.  Can you get my reptile in a zoo? 

A #5:    We do better than that.  While we do place some reptiles in zoos and for display, the zoos have to be looking for that particular species of animal.  They don't just take anything and don't have extra open cages sitting around for unwanted pets.  Most often the placement we find for your pet reptile will give more space, one-on-one interaction, personalized care, and be a more active and fulfilling home than a zoo can provide.

Q #6:  I need help finding a new home for my pet reptile, but I don't want them to go just anywhere.  Will you point me to some good homes?

A #6:    Sorry, we don't provide owner assistance for relocating unwanted pets.  You will have to bring your reptile to us and we will find a great home. 

Q #7:  I need to sell my pet reptile.  Will you buy my pet or help me find someone who will?

A #7:    No.  We don't buy reptiles and we don't offer consignment services or sales assistance.

Q #8:  Why don't you take unwanted pet iguanas?  It's a reptile.  What's up with that?

A #8:    We simply cannot handle or accommodate all the unwanted iguanas out there.  Last time we were accepting them we were up to 36 at one time.  We don't have the resources or time to take the majority of these lizards and care for them.  They are very hard to place and sit here for a long time.  They are tedious to keep, feed, clean and need all of the above often.  And there are just so darned many of them.     

Q #9
Why don't you take unwanted pond sliders?  It's a reptile.  What's up with that?

A #9:
   Red eared pond sliders and yellow bellied pond sliders can grow to over 15 inches in shell size and require a large pond habitat (aquariums are not sufficient).  This makes them hard to place.  They live over 70 years.    They require large ponds and we cannot overcrowd ours to take in the extremely large number of unwanted turtles out there.  Think again before purchasing that cute little turtle for a child as a pet, or as a souvenir from a beach vendor on vacation, or because of a children's movie.

Q #10:  Do you take other animals besides reptiles?  What about mammals, spiders, insects, or fish?

A #10:    We take reptiles and amphibians.   Sometimes we have volunteers who are willing to take pet tarantulas, scorpions, hermit crabs, and other invertebrates.  Never hurts to ask but as a rule herptiles only.  We cannot take fish... our reptiles will eat them.   We do not take or accept wild birds or mammals, only wild reptiles and amphibians and only from Ohio.

Q #11:  I want to know where my reptile goes.  Will you give me the new owner’s info or the name of the institution or sanctuary where placed or adopted?

A #11:    If the new owners wish and allow us to give out their information we will do so.  We don't disclose all the organizations we work with, such as which alligator sanctuaries we took particular alligators to, because they do not want to spend their time talking with former pet owners about their surrendered pet.  Most of the animals these sanctuaries receive are former pets.  They want to care for these animals, not spend their time talking on the phone to ex-owners or giving tours and trying to find a specific pet.  If we do give you this information upon request, please do not harass them

Q #12:  I picked up a turtle hit by a car in northern Kentucky and can't find a KY wildlife rehabilitator.  Can you take an injured reptile I found in another state?

A #12:    No.   Ohio does not allow wildlife to be brought in from other states.  We can only rehabilitate wild reptiles and amphibians from Ohio.  Contact your state department of wildlife to find a rehabilitator in your state.  We have volunteers in the process of obtaining wildlife rehab permits in those states and will be able to help those injured wild reptiles in the future.

Q #14:  Can we tour your facilities and see your animals?

A #14:    The Division of Wildlife does not allow us to give tours as we have sick and injured wildlife in rehabilitation.  We do outside events and presentations and would be happy to bring some of our reptiles to you.  Our foster homes are not open to the public and we schedule visits for rescue business by appointment only.  We are working on a obtaining a public facility and after that anyone is welcome to come visit us.  If you are bringing in your pet, you will get to see our rescued reptiles in foster care and their setups that we have at the time of your intake appointment at the location we send you to.  If you choose not to leave your pet after you meet us, you are under no obligation to do so.  Multiple visits are not necessary.

Q #15:  Will you turn me in to the authorities if I bring a reptile to you I shouldn't have?

A #15:    We are not law enforcement and our goal is to help the reptile.  We will not turn you in or report you to anyone for surrendering an animal.  Ohio law requires us to keep records of all intakes, and Ohio law requires we allow Ohio agencies access to those records upon request.  Please provide correct and accurate information. 

Q #16:  Can you give me legal advice about my pet reptile or interpret the law as it applies to me?

A #16:    We are not attorneys and cannot offer legal advice or legal interpretations.  We can quote, point you towards, and show you what the law says word-for-word but it is up to you or your attorney to determine what it means for you and your pet.

Q #17:  Are you able to take my venomous snake or dangerous reptile?

A #17:    We are experienced, permitted, and equipped to take large and dangerous reptiles such as venomous snakes, crocodilians, and giant constrictors.  We still take in restricted snakes, but we no longer accept alligators and crocodiles due to Ohio's Exotic Animal Ban.  Contact us to see if we have space for your pet reptile.

Q #18:  My pet is sick.  Can I bring it to you for care and have it returned to me later?  

A #18:    No.  We don't provide medical or veterinary care for your personal pet.  We can take your sick reptile and we will be happy to provide the necessary care and find a new home.  If you prefer to keep your pet, we recommend seeking professional veterinary care for your sick reptile.  We can help point you to an exotic veterinarian if you need a reference.

Q #19:  Can you tell me why my adoption application was denied?

A #19:    It wasn't denied. We just don't think you are quite ready yet. Contact us and we will be happy to discuss your application with you. As a rule you will probably have already heard from us with recommendations to improve your ability to care for the reptile you want. We prefer to work with new owners and educate about what you need and help you do it right.

Q #20:  Will my pet be housed in the same cage with other reptiles?

A #20:    Usually not.  We prefer to house all reptiles in separate enclosures to reduce the risk of disease transmission, reduce injuries from cagemates, and give each reptile some space and time to settle in and feel comfortable while under our care.  Exceptions include pets that were already previously housed together with the former owner (if appropriate), species that do better in groups, and our communal ponds for turtles and crocodilians.

Q #21:  Can I visit my pet after I give it to you?

A #21:    We would love to have all the previous owners come visit, socialize with, and even provide some care for their former pets. However, this is not practical given that we operate out of foster homes. Once we have a facility open to the public we will be happy to accommodate that request in a reasonable manner.

Q #22:  Does Arrowhead have any paid employees?

A #22:    We are a 100% volunteer organization and do not have any paid employees.  We are an
IRS 501(c)3 non-profit  #90-0942484.

Q #23:  Why did Arrowhead stop accepting alligators and crocodiles?

A #23:    After dumping dozens of alligators to Arrowhead Reptile Rescue over the past year or so, the Ohio Department of Agriculture is taking the over-reaching position that our exemption to the new Ohio Exotic Animal Ban as wildlife rehabilitators does not extend to alligators. Therefore, effective immediately and until the interpretation of the ODA changes, ARR will discontinue taking in pet alligators in Ohio and sending them to appropriate facilities in their natural environment where they belong in Florida. 

The elected officials you voted into office took away your right to own many exotic animals, and also made it almost impossible for exotic animal rescue organizations to operate legally. In cahoots with this conspiracy were Governor John Kasich, Jack Hanna, the Humane Sociey of the United States, the Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio's zoos, and the 129th Ohio general assembly.   While good regulation regarding ownership of some of these species is welcome, an outright ban for everyone- even trained professionals, legitimate animal welfare organizations, and those with years of experience- is not a good law.  

Q #24:  Is Arrowhead tax exempt?  Are my donations tax deductible?

A #24:    Yes!  Arrowhead Reptile Rescue is recognized by the US Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)3 non-profit tax exempt organization.  Your donations and contributions are tax deductible. 

Q #25:  Why did Arrowhead stop accepting pond sliders?

A #25:   
The Ohio Division of Wildlife enacted new rules in 2014 for wildlife rehabilitators prohibiting them from dealing with both injured native wildlife and native pet reptiles as well. This includes pond sliders, some map and painted turtles, and most species that are native to the state of Ohio. Due to these Ohio Division of Wildlife regulations and policies, we are no longer accepting pond slider turtles.  Unfortunately we were forced to choose between helping injured wildlife for rehabilitation back to the wild, or rescuing native pet reptiles for adoption to new homes. Since most injured wild reptiles that come to us are hurt by human beings and their vehicles, construction, habitat destruction, and other man-made factors, we chose to continue helping those reptiles. We regret that state laws and rules impede on our ability to help reptiles in need. 


Q #100:  I found an injured wild animal.  Can I keep it at home and take care of it?

A #100:    No. It is illegal to try to care for injured wild animals in Ohio (also Ky and IN). Wildlife rehabilitators have specialized training to handle wildlife injuries and illness, and have partnerships with veterinarians to help provide that appropriate and proper medical care. Think of wildlife as Ohio's private animals, and the state only wants their wildlife treated and cared for by trained professionals. You might be a nurse, or an EMT, or love animals, or be an animal rescuer or shelter volunteer, but if you are not a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian, then please keep your hands off the injured wildlife.   It is only acceptable to pick up injured wildlife you find to transport to an appropriate wildlife rehabilitator.

Q #101:  I found a box turtle and it seems very friendly.  Can I keep it as a pet?

A #101:    No. Eastern box turtles are a protected native species in Ohio (also KY and IN). It is illegal to buy, sell, trade, possess, pick one up, transport, obtain, keep, injure, or harm an eastern box turtle in any manner.  Box turtles may not have fangs and claws to show you when they are upset, but rest assured the wild turtle is terrified and not happy to see you.

Q #102:  I found a box turtle that was obviously a pet.  Should I keep it or pick it up?

A #102:    No. Box turtles can live over 100 years, and it is not unrealistic that any given turtle could have been picked up and kept as a pet and released a number of times in a century.  We have seen turtles with names carved in them, painted shells, even a bow tied to them.  Please don't continue this cycle. We recommend leaving wildlife in nature where you find them.

Q #103:  I found a red eared slider turtle in the wild.  Does it have to be euthanized?

A #103:    Not necessarily. If you find a red eared slider uninjured in the wild in Ohio, please leave it where you found it. No action is required.  If you find a red eared slider that is severely injured in Ohio, it cannot be rehabilitated and released. Injured red eared slider from the wild cannot be rehabilitated and must be euthanized. Please call the Ohio Division of Wildlife at 1-800-WILDLIFE for direction or suggestions if you find an injured wild red eared slider as we do not accept them for euthanasia. 

Q #104:  I think I found an alligator snapping turtle. What should I do with it?

A #104:    No, you didn't. These are common snapping turtles in Ohio. We don't have alligator snapping turtles here. They are very similar in appearance, especially young turtles.   We recommend leaving wildlife in nature where you find them.

Q #105:  I found a snake and it is rattling its tail and making a buzzing noise. Is this a rattlesnake?

A #105:    In Ohio, probably not. Many species of snakes will shake their tail when threatened or angry, including milk snakes, rat snakes, and yes even rattlesnakes. The rattlesnake just happens to have a rattle on its tail. Other non-venomous snakes often produce a buzzing sound when vibrating their tail against something. In Ohio we only have two species of rattlesnake and they are both endangered and extremely rare with very low population numbers.

Q #106:  There is a huge snapping turtle (or snake) scaring residents and neighborhood children. What can we do?

A #106:    Keep in mind we moved into their home, not the other way around. They belong where they are; humans don't take animal habitat into consideration when deciding where to build homes and businesses. If there is a reptile causing you grief or headaches, we request you simply relocate them within a mile or so to the nearest suitable habitat. If the animal is in your home or building, a nuisance wildlife removal service is who you need to call.


Q #200:  I heard that turtles under 4" were illegal to sell in the U.S. ?  How come people are selling turtle hatchlings at the beach?  (Or mall, flea market, pet store, fair, carnival)?   

A #200:    It is illegal to sell turtles under 4" in size in the United States. But no one, including the federal health officials who enacted the ban in 1975, enforce it or seem to care. To this day you can go buy hatchling quarter-sized turtles just about anywhere. Everyone knows it happens. Everyone lets it happen.  No one wants to do anything about it.  

Q #201:  Do turtles really carry Salmonella?  Can my pet turtle make me sick?

A #201:    Many reptiles, including turtles, can carry bacteria such as Salmonella, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, and many others. As a rule these organisms usually do not make the reptile sick, show any signs of presence, and do not require the animal be treated for illness. Some can, in rare cases, make people sick.  These same organisms can also be obtained from eggs, chicken, produce, and a number of items we come into contact with every day.  We highly recommend always washing your hands after handling any animal, practice good hygiene and cleanliness, and use common sense.  It is generally not recommended to keep reptiles as pets for children under 5 years of age as they stick things in their mouth a lot and don't always remember to use good hygiene, or those with immune system disorders or problems.

Q #202:  I was told my pet reptile won't outgrow the cage.  Is it true that some reptiles only grow as big as their enclosure?

A #202:    FALSE. If you feed it right and provide the proper environment, it will grow. If you are keeping your pet reptile in a cage that is too small, not feeding it correctly, and not providing the right conditions, it will not grow and eventually die.

Q #203:  I was told my pet alligator won't get big if I don't feed it often and keep it cold.  Is this true?

A #203:    Intentionally neglecting an animal's proper care and needs is animal cruelty.  Not feeding an alligator the proper amount of food and not providing an alligator the proper temperatures will result in a sick, malnourished, deformed, stunted animal.  Refusing to feed your pet enough and willfully not giving it the correct environment is classic animal cruelty and a horrible way for any living animal to barely survive.

Q #204:  I am finding a lot of conflicting information on the internet. How can I tell what is correct and what is wrong?

A #204:    Look at the source. Scientific studies done by professional researchers, care sheets provided by proven breeders and herp keepers, and information from reputable organizations will often be more reliable. Joe's comment on AskJeeves might not be reliable. Bob's reptile page might not have all the most current information or be accurate. Find good sources and lots of them to compare information.

Q #205:  Did Ohio really ban exotic pets?

A #205:    Yes!  The state of Ohio now has the most strict exotic animal ban in the United States. Exotic animal owners are not welcome in Ohio.  Other animal owners, be aware they are coming after your pets next.  Even a small monkey that fits in the palm of your hand is restricted and/or illegal now in Ohio.   

Q #206:  Did the feds really restrict giant pythons nationwide because of two counties in Florida?

A #206:    Yes!  The US FIsh and Wildlife Service listed Burmese pythons, rock pythons, and yellow anaconda on the US Lacey Act as an invasive and damaging species because there are some in our southern-most sub-tropical state.  We are unclear how restricting python ownership and movements in Alaska and Montana will solve the python problem in Florida.    It is rumored boa constrictors will be added to this list soon, completely up heaving the pet trade and pet owners everywhere.   


©  Arrowhead Reptile Rescue 2014