While we wondered if the FDA was simply crying â€˜wolfâ€™ on the safety of turtles as pets to cause some press to come their way, it turns out that the FDAâ€™s claim that turtles can be unsafe as pets is completely valid.
According to an article written Consumer Affairs â€œturtles often carry Salmonella on their outer skin and shell surfaces, and people can get Salmonella infection by coming in contact with turtles or their habitats.â€
While Salmonella does not usually make turtles sick â€” making it hard for anyone other than a trained professional to recognize the signs of Salmonella in a turtle â€” people who come in contact with turtles who have Salmonella are prone to becoming seriously ill. This is especially true for children and eldery individuals who usually have a weaker immune system than the average adult.
One of the scariest parts of turtles carrying Salmonella is that people who get Salmonella from touching a turtle usually wonâ€™t know that they got it from the turtle (thinking instead that they got it from something they ate) leaving the infected turtle in a situation where it can infect more people without them realizing it.