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Vet Notes : dogs

Should You Keep a Pet Turtle for Your Kids?

Are you considering adding a pet turtle to your family? If so, make certain that your children are old enough to know not to kiss the turtle or put it in their mouth. They also need to know to wash their hands thoroughly after handling the turtle. Small turtles (less than 4 inches across) are illegal as pets in the United States. However, they are still a relatively common pet in the United States, with an estimated 2 million being kept for this purpose.

A Salmonella outbreak that began in May 2007 has been traced back to small turtles. This outbreak has caused illnesses in 33 states, with 103 reported cases, most in children under the age of 10. At least 24 children have been hospitalized and 2 girls were even hospitalized after simply swimming in water that tiny pet turtles were allowed to swim in.

Salmonella is carried by most reptiles, making them less than ideal pets for small children who are not yet capable of keeping their fingers out of their mouths and washing their hands without being told to do so. Tiny turtles are particularly problematic for families with young children because of the way they are handled.

No children have died, but some of the children who were hospitalized were suffering from acute kidney failure because of this aggressive bacteria.

It is often difficult to deny our children something that they really want, but in a situation such as this, it is important to use the judgment of an adult and consider buying your child a stuffed animal instead.

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Veterinary Technical Services Department

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