Turtles and Salmonella: Separating Fact from Fiction

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Properly Handling Turtles To Avoid Salmonella

Some find it helpful to imagine a turtle as an uncooked chicken breast. While that may be an unappealing image to some, it can be useful in explaining the care that should be given when handling turtles. Would you touch other food after handling raw chicken? No. So you shouldn’t do so with turtles. It is crucial to thoroughly wash your hands every time after handling your turtle or interacting with your turtle’s enclosure. Do not touch your face or other surfaces until your hands have been cleaned.

Further Turtle Rules Include:

  • Do not allow turtles free rein of your home

  • Food and drink should never be near a turtle or turtle enclosure

  • Keep turtles away from children age five or younger

  • If possible, clean your turtle’s enclosure outside. If that is not feasible designate one sink to be the turtle sink. Do not prepare food or wash your hands in the turtle sink.

  • Wear gloves while cleaning your turtle’s enclosure

  • Clean your turtle's enclosure frequently

A Turtle To Call Your Own

Turtles can give you salmonella, but they can also be wonderful pets that never pass any disease to your or a loved one. Owning a turtle is a calculated risk, you should be confident in your ability and the abilities of those around you to follow the turtle rules outlined above. When taking proper precautions turtles can be great additions to any family. When handled improperly and irresponsibly turtles have the potential to pass on salmonella. Which of these two scenarios comes to pass is completely reliant on you.


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