Every year I like to remind people that they shouldn’t give rabbits as Easter gifts. Instead they should give chocolate rabbits. That is because each year animal shelters across the country receive an abundance of rabbits in the weeks following Easter. Sadly parents and grandparents give the rabbits as Easter gifts not taking into consideration that a rabbit is a living creature and requires daily care just like you would a cat or a dog.
This summer a new live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies will be coming to theaters across the country. I was unaware that the release of the first film back in 1990 resulted in hundreds of thousands of live turtles being purchased as pets. Many people didn’t think their decision through enough and many were killed or released into the wild.
If you have a child or grandchild who is a fan of the popular Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles franchise PLEASE take this open letter from the American Tortoise Rescue to heart.
Dear Parents and Grandparnets:
We’re asking you to save a turtle’s life and perhaps even your child’s.
In August, your children will be enjoying another edition of the extremely popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. This will include a whole new generation of kids who missed the 2007 animated film. It’s fun and great entertainment.
But, we are writing this to ask for your help. Since the first movie was released in 1990, hundreds of thousands of live turtles, mostly water turtles called red eared sliders, were purchased for between $10 and $25 after each ninja movie was released. The result? Many, if not most, were dumped and even deliberately killed or flushed down the toilet. Remember people buying thousands of dogs that ended up in shelters after 101 Dalmatians came me out? Same problem.
Unfortunately, children do not realize that real turtles do not fly, perform stunts or do any of the exciting moves fictional movie turtles do. Parents, trying to please their children, purchased live turtles which ended up languishing in tanks. Or, when the kids realized after a few weeks that these were not ninja turtles, the turtles were dumped illegally into rivers and lakes as well as dumpsters, flushed down toilets or relinquished to shelters and overcrowded rescues. It’s estimated that 90 percent died. As an aside, zoos do not take turtles.
Turtles have been around for 200 million years and outlived the dinosaur. Is this the way we want to treat our precious wildlife? Most of these turtles are taken out of the wild and sold to pet stores, breeders and mercados for profit.
Here’s the bigger problem. Turtles carry salmonella which can make a child very, very sick and can even kill them. That’s why turtles less than four inches were banned from sale in the U.S. in 1974 and still are…tiny turtles easily fit into a child’s mouth. Children also tend to touch the water and don’t wash their hands. It’s an ugly problem. A nine month old baby in Los Angeles got salmonella meningitis from a turtle after its parents touched it and then held the baby. We do not recommend live turtles or tortoises for children under 13 because of salmonella exposure and because the kids lose interest almost immediately.
What can you do to help? Buy Ninja action figures and toys instead of live turtles and save a turtle’s life, and perhaps even your child’s.
Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, Co-founders
American Tortoise Rescue
I have to agree with them. Turtles are a lot of work and can be expensive. My husband and I looked into getting a turtle or two a few years ago. After we learned about the diseases they can carry we decided against it. Not only that the cost to care for them properly can be pricey. For now we’ll stick to enjoying turtles from afar at the lake or the zoo or check them out in the movie theater.
Do you have a pet turtle? I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.
*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the benefit of my site readers. The opinions expressed by the American Tortoise Rescue are not necessarily the same as my own.