When I was little, my mom bought a small plastic tray with a tiny palm tree in the center. Our turtles, Tarzan and Jane, lived in this portable home. We watched the turtles slowly navigate around the small pond of water and eat the turtle food we sprinkled daily. Life was pretty good for the four sisters and the two turtles.  Until that day. Mom invited a neighbor over for coffee. She brought her toddler…who was fascinated by these little creatures. So fascinated that she took her chubby hand, reached out, plucked Tarzan up…and put him in her mouth.  We did what little girls are good at. We screamed. I’m embarrassed to say that I was, at the time, seriously concerned about the Tarzan’s welfare. After all, she tried to EAT him. The mothers took a few minutes to discover what happened. Her mother retrieved the turtle and returned him to his tray. She took her daughter home and the child was immediately seen by her pediatrician. She did fine. Tarzan did not do as well.  While the FDA now bans the selling of small turtles (some would call these bite-sized), they can still be found online. Despite looking healthy and clean, turtles carry salmonella. Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and illness can lead to hospitalization in the very young or immunocompromised.

The moral of the story is: Get a Dog.

Dr Badaracco