Teeny Tiny Turtle Trade

Natalie Taylor, Writer

In 1975, the US banned selling turtles less than four inches long after epidemiologists linked outbreaks of Salmonella to the reptiles. However, people continue to throw caution to the wind by purchasing baby turtles from flea markets or online stores illegally.

“It’s a terrible thing that people illegally trade turtles,” junior Matthew Montague said. “They should be treated better and not just used as exotic pets.”

Owning a turtle under four inches is not only illegal, but can also be extremely dangerous. The CDC reported 132 cases of Salmonella in 2011. Of the people who suffered the infection, 93% of them reported that they owned a tiny turtle.

“The ban is the most effective way to prevent Salmonella related to small turtles,” CDC expert Janell Routh said in an interview with Scientific American in 2012. “But the regulation of the ban is not so effective.”

Purchasing turtles online is becoming an easier method to buy cheap and tiny turtles. Websites such as myturtlestore.com will ship a dollar-coin sized turtle in a box for only $10, nearly a third of what legitimate pet stores charge.

Unfortunately many of these online turtle stores inflict cruelty on their turtles by sedating them and shipping them in a box for two or more days.

My Turtle Store is a horrible company that abuses turtles,” Michelle Vazquez Palma said in a myturtlestore.com review. “We ordered a youth female red ear slider to be a companion to a male youth we adopted from a friend. The turtle store sent us a poor baby turtle that had recently had its foot severed.”

Baby turtles are not the sole carriers of Salmonella, but they play a huge part in spreading the disease across the nation.

“If you decide you want a turtle, make sure it’s from an actual brand name pet store,” junior Katelyn Wichlep said. “The couple of extra dollars is worth it.”