There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that turtles make amazing exotic pets, but are they ideal for your kids? Now that's one question which you need to give a serious thought. It's a common misconception that small turtles are harmless for kids. Regardless of size, a significant proportion of cases of salmonella infection in kids is attributed to pet turtles.
Are Turtles Ideal Pets for Kids?
Experts are of the opinion that keeping turtles in homes that have children of five years or below, can turn out to be harmful for these children (as well as the turtles), as they carry some harmful species of bacteria, including the notorious salmonella, on their body. When kids come in contact with these turtles, the bacteria is transferred to them and affects their health adversely.
Kids are not well-versed with the importance of hygiene, so they may not even realize the risk involved. More importantly, salmonella is naturally occurring bacteria in turtles. You yourself won't be able to realize that your pet turtle is infested with bacteria, as they seldom look sick when they are infested.
Similarly, when you keep a turtle as a pet, you need to subject it to proper care on a regular basis. Your kids may not be well-versed with the importance of this, and resultant bad hygiene will make these turtles vulnerable to various diseases, which will be eventually transferred to your kids. At the same time, if your kid loses interest in his pet, the onus of looking after it will be on you. You need to give these things a serious thought before getting a turtle for your kid. Taking into consideration the connection between turtles and salmonella infection, keeping them as pets is best avoided.
Pet Turtles for Older Kids
If you think your kids are old enough to take care of themselves (as well as their pets), you can opt for species that are docile in nature and don't require much attention. The red-eared slider is by far the best example of the same. The docile nature of this species makes it one of the most popular pet turtles in American households. Yet another popular species is the musk turtle, which seldom grows beyond a length of 5 - 6 inches.
As in case of red-eared slider, even musk species are quite docile in nature and therefore, easy to handle. Even though the Cooter species tend to grow to a length of 12 - 15 inches, their docile nature makes them ideal species to be kept as pets. Other species which make good pets―for kids especially―include the box turtle, Speckled Padloper tortoise, Soft shelled turtle, Reeved turtle, etc.
As we have been saying in the entire article, it is important to understand that these turtles are not at all meant to be kept as pets for small kids. Though they will make ideal pets for older kids, who will learn quite a few fascinating things about them, that should only be done under the watchful eyes of some adult.