albuquerque turtleI love turtles. They are cute and have silly feet. They can pull their heads into their shell. They can swim! Too bad they can also give you salmonella.

A lot of kids want pets. A lot of parents don’t want their kids to have a pet that will require a lot of care, especially if they don’t think their kids will be the primary caretaker. Often times a turtle seems to be a great solution.  But you may want to rethink this option, especially if your kids are young.

Small children are far more likely to do funny things like put their turtle in their mouth, or kiss them on the head, or put them in someone else’s mouth, or rub them on someone’s face, or drop them in your coffee…you get the point.  Unfortunately for all of us, including the turtle, that can be bad for everyone’s health.

Turtles harbor salmonella and it can be passed on through their saliva or feces.  So maybe keeping them out of mouths is the answer? Wrong. Even their water in their bowls can carry the bacteria. So you don’t have to have a turtle latte to be exposed.

Additionally, did we mention that turtles often live for 40 years? That means that long after your kids have packed up and moved out, that turtle you bought when they are 4 is still living with you. So before you buy a turtle, think about if it is a pet your child truly wants and will take care of in the long run, and make sure you buy a bigger one that can live in the back yard.

If you notice vomiting or bloody diarrhea in your child, or yourself, make sure to get to a doctor to make sure you didn’t get salmonella.