SALEM, Ore.— Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists warn Oregonians not to buy red-eared sliders, nonnative invasive turtles which are illegal in the state. Red-eared sliders, named for the red “ear” (markings) on the side of their heads, are offered for sale on Internet sites, by street vendors and in some pet stores.
“This time of year, we seem to see more illegal turtles for sale, although it’s a year round problem,” said Rick Boatner, ODFW Invasive Species Coordinator. “We are especially concerned about small turtles that are sold as pets for children and commonly carry the bacteria salmonellaon their skin and shells.”
Turtles less than four inches in shell length are banned from sale and distribution by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to protect infants, young children, pregnant women and others. Under Oregon Department of Agriculture rules, it is illegal to import turtles less than four inches into Oregon.
If you are in possession of a red-eared slider, contact your local ODFW office for advice. Never release a nonnative turtle into the wild; it hurts both native habitat and species.
Red-eared sliders are native to the East Coast of the United States. In Oregon, they compete with native turtles for food and habitat, especially nesting and basking sites, and can spread diseases to which the state’s native turtles have no immunity.
Oregon has only two native turtles: the western painted and the western pond, both are listed on the state sensitive species list and highlighted in the Oregon Conservation Strategy as species in need of help. They are both protected by law; it is illegal to take them from the wild and to keep them as pets.
“All in all, turtles do not make good pets,” said Boatner.” Native turtles are protected and belong in the wild, and many nonnative turtles are illegal and have to be kept out of the wild.”
4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE :: Salem, OR 97302 :: Main Phone (503) 947-6000 or (800) 720-ODFW 
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