Are Turtles Dangerous To Humans?

Whether or not turtles are dangerous to humans really just depends on the turtle itself.  Some turtles may be more aggressive than others.  Some may carry diseases or infections that can be harmful to humans, while others may even bite and cause some real damage.

One of the more dangerous types of turtles is the snapping turtle.  The name “snapping turtle
was given to them for a good reason!  There are two types of species of snapping turtle the common snapping turtle which can be found throughout North America and the Alligator snapping turtle which is mostly restricted to the southern United States.  Both species have the potential to be very dangerous animals.

The Alligator snapping turtle can weight anywhere up to 300 pounds and some have even been documented to bite right through objects such as brooms and hockey sticks.  It can easily do the same to a human’s body parts.  There have been quite a few cases where snapping turtles have attacked humans that have tried touching them or made them feel threatened in some way.  Some people have even lost a finger or another body part to these creatures.  When provoked, these turtles will not hesitate to bite and they typically do not let go for quite some time once they do.

These turtles are equipped with great claws that can cause quite the damage.  They are also incredibly strong creatures on their feet.  One of the main reasons they are so aggressive compared to other turtle species is because unlike most turtles, they are unable to retract back into their shell with feeling threatened.  Their plastron (ventral shell) is too small in order for them to complete this task.

Another thing to keep in mind when considering turtles and their harm to humans is that in the United States since 1975 it has become illegal to sell or own a turtle that is less than 4 inches.  They have been banned due to the fact that they pose a high risk of disease, especially concerning children because children are curious and like to stick things in their mouths and many turtles have been known to carry salmonella.

Just because you cannot see the bacteria on the turtle does not mean that it is not there.  Salmonella are naturally occurring bacteria in turtles and those with salmonella do not usually show any signs of illness.  If turtles transmit this to humans it can cause severe illness, hospitalization and even death.  It is especially dangerous for children under the age of five, the elderly, and people who have natural resistance to disease due to pregnancy, cancer, chemotherapy, organ transplants, etc.

The good news is that there are a few things one can do to protect themselves against the potential harm that turtles carry.  The first is to never touch a turtle in the wild that you stumble upon or that seems aggressive.  This is a good way to get attacked by one.

Another way to help prevent danger from occurring is to never have a turtle in a household that includes children under 5, elderly or people with weakened immune systems.  For those households that do have turtles in them, it is crucial to handle all turtles and surfaces that the pet has come in contact with as if they are contaminated since there is the possibility that they could be.  Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after handling turtles, their tanks, feces, or any surface that they have come in contact with. All surfaces should also be thoroughly washed down.  Do not allow your turtle to roam freely around the homes especially in areas where food is kept.  Kitchen sinks should never be used to bathe a turtle or to wash aquariums out.  If bathtubs must be used for this purpose they should be cleaned out thoroughly with bleach and disinfected immediately after you are done using the bathtub.  Never handle a turtle and an infant at the same time.  These pets should never be allowed in places such as the hospital or in nursing homes.  Food and drinks should never be around the same area that the turtle is kept in.

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