Shopkeepers in Chinatown in Los Angeles have been illegally selling red-eared sliders for decades.
The Los Angeles Animal Services has confiscated 70 baby red-eared slider turtles from shop owners and vendors in Los Angeles’ Chinatown and garment district.
LAAS worked in conjunction with the American Tortoise Rescue, the Animals Foundation, and the California Turtle and Tortoise Club, Valley Chapter to locate and secure the reptiles, which are often sold for $10 and usually suffer very short lives.
"LAAS is always appreciative of our private partners like VFTA, ATR and CTTC who tipped us off that these tiny hatchling red eared slider turtles were being sold illegally,” Brenda Barnette, general manager LAAS, said in a press release. “These sliders could cause a serious public health challenge — especially for children — but our partners also are helping get these little sliders get the care they need so they can grow up to be healthy adults.”
Here is a care sheet for the red-eared slider
The LAAS sent six plain clothes officers to confiscate the turtles and cited the shop owners and the landlords to make sure that they were aware that the sale of hatchling red-eared sliders with carapace lengths of four inches or less is illegal under federal law. That law has been on the books since 1974.
"These are adorable and an impulse buy for 10 bucks – a good daily income for some street vendors and small shops,” Susan Tellem, executive director of American Tortoise Rescue said in a press release. “Unfortunately, most die from ignorance or neglect, and some even are flushed down the toilet alive by unhappy parents."
American Tortoise Rescue notes that all turtles no matter what size or species, should be considered to be carriers of Salmonella and must be handled carefully, facts that folks who buy these gift shop turtles may not be aware of.
To prevent Salmonella:
- Wash your hands with hot, soapy water (preferably antibacterial soap) after handling the pet, its cage or cage accessories.
- Wear gloves and face protection when cleaning a cage or changing the water in a tank, pool or pond.
- Always supervise and minimize a child’s handling of a reptile.
- House reptiles away from the kitchen, dining room and food preparation areas.
- Never kiss your pet.
These turtles are in the care of ATR, which is looking for foster parents and forever homes for these reptiles. If you are interested in adopting or fostering one of these turtles, and live in the Los Angeles area, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.