Tortoise Salmonella

HoneyBea23

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Oct 21, 2019
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Hi there! I am wondering if someone can inform me of the risks of having a tortoise with respect to salmonella contamination towards myself and other pets. For example, if I let my Russian tortoise roam supervised around my room floor, and then my cat roams on the floor after the tortoise has been put back in its enclosure, is there a risk of her getting sick? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

nicoble

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Dec 20, 2010
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it is possible from a medical/ scientific standpoint that salmonella survive for several hours after they left their host ... they won't usually survive very long on surfaces like hardwood or carpet but still it is possible ... For that reason I would not let my tortoise roam especially if wild caught - you can easily get a piece of linoleum or other wipeable surface that can be rolled up and have your tortoise in a more fenced in area - they are happiest with the right lighting and temperature though or ... safest ... outside ... sunlight is the best disinfectant when it comes to things like salmonella ...
 

Blackdog1714

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I wouldn't since I routinely watch my Torts pooh than walk through it and even pooh on there food. Handwashing after each handling for me thank you. And I am by no means a germ freak. 5 second rule works!
 

Markw84

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Turtles and tortoises do not "carry" salmonella. It is not a bacteria that is endemic to chelonians and they walk around with a culture of salmonella to disperse wherever they go. No more than lettuce or chicken eggs "carry" salmonella. Salmonella is a ubiquitous bacteria with 100s of strains. Unsanitary conditions become a culture medium for the bacteria to grow and then something in that environment - a chicken, lettuce, a turtle, etc. can indeed become a way to transfer it elsewhere. It is the unsanitary conditions that allow the bacteria to become established and multiply.

Turtles became the scapegoat culprit back in the 60s when hatchlings were sold in the 1000s in big tubs in front of Woolworth stores. They were sold with a little10" round plastic tub with a plastic palm tree in the middle. They held about 1 cup of water. Kids got turtles and put them in these containers, fed them, and rarely cleaned it. It became a perfect bacteria culture medium. Any environmental bacteria that found that place found a great place to become established. And salmonella flourishes in exactly those conditions. You are far more likely to get a good salmonella culture going if you put a piece of grocery store chicken in the same turtle container and left it a week or so. But kids like to play with baby turtles and kids put their hands in their mouth all the time. Even so, there were less cases of salmonella then, then there was just recently with some of our food products that were recalled.

Also - it is never a good idea to let a tortoise roam around in the house. What people interpret as "enjoying exploring" is a tortoise stressed and trying frantically to find a familiar place to hide and feel secure. There are also way too many uncontrollable things it can run into, try to eat, or get injured by, no matter how carefully you monitor it. Give it a proper enclosure and allow it to adopt it as its personal territory. There is where it will thrive and feel safe.
 
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