Baby turtles ("Dollar turtles")

Baby red-eared slider turtles.

ⓒ Aleks Haecky (CC BY-NC-SA)

I am so glad you asked! 1) Dollar turtles are turtles that cost/used to cost one dollar. They also are about the size of a silver dollar when sold. 2) Usually these turtles are baby red-eared sliders that can grow to 6-8" and need significant care. Raising baby turtles is not easy. Sliders are high-maintenance pets and if not given proper care they will get sick and die. (Most baby turtles die in their first year from stress and improper husbandry.) 3) Dollar turtles used to be sold in the United States, until they were associated with Salmonellosis in small children. Many reptiles carry some salmonella. (Salmonella is also common in raw poultry and raw eggs.) If kept observing proper hygene, that is not a problem. But children would put the turtles in their mouth, and a number became sick. Once the government outlawed the sale of turtles under 4 inches size, reptile-associated Salmonellosis decreased dramatically. 4) It may not be legal for you to import a life red-eared baby slider from Canada into the U.S. Many animals must be quaranteed. I baby turtle would surely die during the quarantine. 5) There are also restrictions on transporting animals on airplanes. Most airlines will allow small animals in suitable containers. Travel is very stressful for baby turtles. (During transport from turtle farms to the stores, more than half die during transport or shortly arriving at their destination.) A baby turtle needs to travel in the passenger section of the plane.

In view of the above, there are some other options than buying a baby turtle in Canada:

* Buy or adopt a turtle locally. It won't be as small, though.

* If you know of people who breed turtles, you can still get a baby turtle for adoption. The best way to find such people is to check out a local turtle or reptile association and take it from there.

Baby turtles are awfully cute and awfully wonderful pets, and it is a great feeling to look at your healthy, adult turtle and know you have raised it from a hatchling. It takes a good deal of investment to keep turtles, but it is worth every minute of it!

So, what is allowed in the US? ============================== It is LEGAL to keep baby turtles. It is LEGAL to give away, adopt, breed, and keep baby turtles. It is ILLEGAL to sell baby turtles commercially for pets. (Note: state laws may vary.)

Reader Comment


"Turtles are sold under 4 inches. I work in the Pet trade Industry many of your soft shelled turtles are sold at 1 2 or even 3 inches in size and are considered FISH by the Law enforcement agncies YOU can even get small turtles of other species and you can sell them to people in the field of education or give them free with purchase of a tank but you can not sell them individually there are many ways you can get around this now ridiculious once necessary LAW---THANX THE DRU STAR"