US: Red-eared sliders are not dangerous
Posted: June 14th, 2009 - 6:32pm
Jeffrey L. Rhody of Laurel, a doctor of veterinary medicine, writes to publicly set the record straight about the risk of contracting salmonella from red-eared slider turtles ("Two charged with selling illegal turtles," June 11).
All reptiles carry salmonella as part of the normal bacterial population in their body. Sliders are not unique in that regard. The risk of getting infected with salmonella from a reptile can be greatly reduced with common sense hygiene practices. In fact, the incidence of reptile-borne salmonella infections is much less than salmonella infections obtained from improperly handled poultry products.
Red-eared sliders are indigenous to the eastern United States and are a popular pet for turtle lovers. It is not illegal to own this species. It is illegal in the state of Maryland to sell a slider that is less than 4 inches in diameter. It was felt by advocates for this law that 4 inches was the size of turtle that children could fit into their mouths. Of course, if you lick a turtle, the risk of salmonella infection is greatly increased.
No one who owns a slider should be concerned about breaking the law.