Turtles: A shell game?

By Connie Orcutt • Published: May 1st, 2013
Category: Animal Airwaves

Turtles are mighty cute, but they’re also contaminated.

Like other reptiles, turtles carry Salmonella as part of their normal bacterial population. Salmonella is not dangerous to a natural host, but it can cause serious infections in people who touch reptiles or contaminated surfaces. Those most at risk are children under 5 years of age, the elderly, and anyone with a decreased ability to fight disease.

So are turtles taboo as pets? If your home includes a young child, elderly person, or immunocompromised individual, the answer is probably yes. If you’re good to go, wash your hands and contaminated surfaces after handling, and don’t let your turtle contact food or food-prep areas. Bathing your turtle in the kitchen sink or bathtub is another no-no.

Don’t gamble on a shell game. Be sure a turtle is right for you before bringing one home.