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Is it legal for my child to have a pet turtle?

Since 1975, it has been illegal in the United States to sell or distribute turtles with shells that measure less than 4 inches in length. This size was chosen because small children are more likely to treat smaller turtles as toys and put them in their mouths. This ban prohibiting the sale of small turtles likely remains the most effective public health action to prevent turtle-associated salmonellosis. Despite this ban, such turtles are still found in some pet stores, flea markets, with street vendors, or sold over the Internet. In addition, children still catch wild turtles and lizards and bring them home to keep as pets. Whether purchased or caught in a backyard, a reptile or amphibian can carry Salmonella and might not be the best choice of a pet for your family, especially if there are young children or persons with weakened immune systems in the household.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.