Trachemys scripta elegans, Mans Punching Bag

25 Jun

Red Eared Slider Turtles Trachemys scripta elegans have long been the most recognized or familiar aquatic turtle for the public at large and no doubt the 2nd most abandoned reptile in the herpetocultural industry.  Somehow over the years the Red Eared Slider Trachemys scripta elegans became the “puppy” that everyone wanted.  This misperception most likely began when the turtles were a regular “prize” at county fairs, swap meets, and the like.  Today we still see these tiny turtles showing up in various places.

It seems that there was a real boom in the sale of this particular species during the 1960’s and into the seventies.  This was all cut short in 1975 when the FDA enacted Title 21 Chapter 1 subchapter L Part 1240 subpart D section 1240.62 which essentially says that any turtle under a carapace (shell length) of 4” cannot be publicly distributed.  It is believed this came into effect as a way to prevent the zoonoses of salmonella.  In an article titled Salmonella Prevention for Reptile Owners published in the Tortuga Gazette 30(8): 6-7, August 1994 by Douglas R. Mader, Carl Palazzola, William Ridgeway, Greg Perrault, and Thomas Greek.

“The red-eared slider was the turtle that received the majority of the negative publicity.  At the time that salmonellosis was a major disease concern, the slider was the most common type of turtle kept as a pet in the United States.  In the early 1970’s it was estimated that about 280,000 cases of human salmonellosis were contracted from pet turtles.”

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