Airdate: Feb 12, 2019
Scientist: Peter Laufer
They make fine pets, but keeping a companion turtle may not be such a great idea.
Pet TurtlesWhen I was growing up, it was very common for kids to have pet turtles about the size of a silver dollar, kept in a small bowl with a plastic palm tree in the middle. Typically, the turtles didn't fare very well. Well, times have changed, or have they? I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Laufer: Turtles in the United States have to be a minimum size in order to be sold legally, and that is because turtles have the potential to carry salmonella. Peter Laufer is a professor of journalism and the author of the book "Dreaming in Turtle". Laufer: There were cases in the past prior to the '70s, when children particularly would put small turtles in their mouths just because that's the kind of thing that children do. That gave them the potential to contract the disease. So in order for it to be legally traded. In order for a turtle to be legally traded, its diameter of the carapace must be at least four inches.This is an animal that can be perfectly happy living with us if we are conscious of providing an environment and food that is attentive to the turtle's needs.I have a very hard time sending listeners to a pet store, just because of the way I've seen them displayed there. It makes me uncomfortable. Finding one in the wild can be problematic too, because you're removing the turtle from where it ought to be. I suppose I return to the idea that maybe it's not such a good goal to have an animal that you've trapped in your backyard zoo.We'll hear more on turtles in future programs. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Check out our podcast on Stitcher, iTunes and other podcast platforms.