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Do tortoises carry salmonella? *answer inside*

Discussion in 'Tortoise Health' started by Kristina, May 28, 2011.

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  1. Kristina

    Kristina New Member

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    I see this question a lot, so I thought it would make it simpler to have a reference to it. Here is my answer.

    Yes, tortoises CAN carry salmonella. However, so does your toothbrush, the dirt in your back yard, dog feces, cat feces, bird droppings, your kitchen counters and computer keyboard, and all kinds of things that you come into contact with on a daily basis. There are over 2,000 strains of salmonella. The chances of getting an infection from a tortoise is very, very VERY slim. As long as you keep your tortoise pen clean and wash your hands after handling your tortoise, there really is nothing to be concerned about.

    Back in the 70's there was a trend of selling baby Red Eared slider turtles along with these tiny kidney shaped bowls with a plastic palm tree in it for them to live in. Since sliders can grow to be as big as a dinner plate, the enclosures were way too small, and also they were unfiltered, and therefore too dirty to keep the turtles healthy. Because the water was so dirty and the turtles were unhealthy, the situation caused the turtle's immune system to weaken and allowed the salmonella bacteria in the turtle's intestine to multiply like crazy. Because the intestine would become overloaded with the bacteria, they would shed high concentrations of the bacteria in their feces, which then entered the already dirty water. Inevitably, small children would put their hands or the sick little turtle in their mouth, and get a salmonella infection. It caused a pretty big stereotype about turtles and tortoises carrying salmonella and making people sick, and led to the outlawing of sales of turtles/tortoises under 4" as pets. As long as you practice good hygiene and take good care of your pet, there should not be any problems.
  2. Redfoot NERD

    Redfoot NERD Well-Known Member

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    Are you telling me Kristina that I can no longer lick my fingers clean after handling each different turtle/tortoise species to eliminate the chances of "cross-contamination" and/or samonelly poisoning to them? I've been playing with these creatures since 1952 and have never had a Dr. tell me I was sick from samonelly poisoning. Spose I'm "samonelly-tolerant".. after all these years?

    NERD
  3. bikerchicspain

    bikerchicspain New Member

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    When I was last taken in to hospital, the first things they tested for was salmonella and pscitacus pneumonia.

    I tell all my clients that reptiles CAN be carriers of salmonella, better safe than sorry.
  4. DesertGrandma

    DesertGrandma New Member

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    What about salmonella cross contamination in newly acquired tortoises. Is that a problem, or is the suggested quarantine of new tortoises for some other reason? I want to get another tortoise and am curious about whether it will need to be quaranteened (sp?) from my Lucy?
  5. DeanS

    DeanS Well-Known Member

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    I think the quarantine thing is highly overrated...unless one animal or the other has a history of illness/disease. I've never had an in-house illness or disease in my 40+ years of keeping animals. When I acquired Aladar from Fife...I felt there was no need to quarantine him...as he had been screened for parasites the previous week. If your animal(s) look and act healthy...then they probably are. All specimens of all species (including human) are carriers of one thing or another...so what? Are we all gonna live in a plastic bubble? Keep the environment clean and you should have no problem!
  6. DesertGrandma

    DesertGrandma New Member

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    I like that answer. Guess if it was adopted from a shelter or from the wild there would be reason for concern. My friend's sulcata got out and was turned into a shelter. When she got HER back she started laying eggs! She was a single lady before being introduced to a male. No diseases though :cool:
  7. Kristina

    Kristina New Member

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    Female tortoises do not need males to lay eggs. Many captive females lay unfertilized eggs regularly.
  8. DeanS

    DeanS Well-Known Member

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    Thank you! How many have experienced 'immaculate conception' with their herps...I had two giant Burm's that both laid upwards of 40 eggs and I NEVER owned a male...BTW, I raised them from hatchlings!
  9. dmmj

    dmmj Thhe member formerly known as captain awesome Staff Member

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    Good thing I don't lick everything on that list, ( I won't say what I do and or don't lick, leave that to the imagination) regarding quarantining I know of people who introduced new animals to established ones and then die under mysterious circumstances just better safe than sorry IMHO.
  10. Madkins007

    Madkins007 Active Member Staff Member

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    Something to point out about typical cases of Salmonellaosis, the actual disease you get from Salmonella- it acts like 'stomach flu' about 80% of the time. The main symptoms are a relatively short-lived bout of diarrhea and nausea with comparatively few other symptoms. It usually takes a day or two to develop, and is usually over in a day or two, although it can last longer in some cases.

    In fact, when we get it, we usually call it the '24 hour bug' or 'stomach flu'. Almost every human over the age of about 13 has had it already, and many of us get it about once a year or two.

    There are strains of Salmonellaosis that are more dangerous, and there is a risk of dehydration in young and old people from the regular version. There is also a rare complication that can be quite bad for you as well.

    Overall, however, I think we have turned Salmonellaosis into this horrible boogyman. Certainly we want to avoid illnesses whenever possible, but it USUALLY is not a big deal.
  11. Kristina

    Kristina New Member

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    First off, Terry and Dave... Stop licking things. ;)

    Second, thanks Mark, you helped prove my point ;) Salmonella is just not as scary as it is made out to be. Plus, as I mentioned before, a simple hand washing will remove 99.9% or your chance of becoming ill from it.
  12. DeanS

    DeanS Well-Known Member

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    NO! Keep licking! Remember...practice makes perfect!;)
  13. Redfoot NERD

    Redfoot NERD Well-Known Member

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    Man am I thirsty all of a sudden!

    Dean I didn't mention I also suck my thumb... must not be allergic? I brush my tongue... you think that helps? You wouldn't believe some of the things that crawl out of my toothbrush!
  14. dmarcus

    dmarcus Active Member

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    I love threads like this, get so many different views.
  15. Zouave

    Zouave Member

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    Tell that to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency :(
  16. ALDABRAMAN

    ALDABRAMAN KEEPER AT HEART

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    :(:(:(

    [hr]
    Nice thread!
  17. DesertGrandma

    DesertGrandma New Member

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    In this case the eggs hatched into cute little babies, haha. Guess she can expect to have babies for the next three to five years now.
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