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Turtles don’t always make the best pets

August 21, 2014

Snapping turtle
Snapping turtles are illegal to buy, sell, trade or release into the wild in Oregon. (Photo by Meghan Dugan/ODFW) Click photo to enlarge.

ROSEBURG, Ore. – Since the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie in 1990, hundreds of thousands of live turtles were purchased as pets, many of which died because of improper care or were illegally released into the wild. Susan Barnes is hoping the latest ninja turtle movie won't cause a spike in turtle sales in Oregon.

Barnes, a conservation biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, says turtles don't always make the best pets. “Turtles require a lot of care and have special diet and habitat needs to keep them healthy. Turtles also carry salmonella which can make people, particularly children, very sick.”

Red-eared sliders, map turtles and snapping turtles are not native to Oregon and are often illegally bought, sold or traded in the state. “These are the most common turtles we see as pets, but it’s illegal to have them in Oregon because they are invasive species,” Barnes said. “If they get out into the wild, they are harmful to our native turtles which we are very concerned about.”

Kids often lose interest quickly in their pet turtles, which can’t slice, dice and fight like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Please consider the health risks and responsibilities before adopting a turtle, many of which can live 40 to 100 years and grow to be very large. Be sure it’s a species legal to have in Oregon or better yet, buy an action figure instead.

For more information on turtles in Oregon, visit the ODFW website

The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and enhance Oregon's fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations. The agency consists of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, a commission-appointed director and a statewide staff of about 950 permanent employees. Headquartered in Salem, ODFW has regional offices in Clackamas and Roseburg with ten district offices located throughout the state. Visit


Susan Barnes (971) 673-6010
Meghan Dugan (541) 440-3353
Fax: (541) 673-0372
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