Why do I have to wash my hands after handling my pet turtle?

Turtles and other reptiles, such as snakes and lizards, can carry salmonella bacteria. Although this does not affect the animal’s health, it can make humans very sick. In order to avoid getting salmonella, a few rules of hygiene should be followed. First, don’t put reptiles in your mouth. Wash your hands carefully with soap and hot water after you handle the turtle. Very young children should just look, and not touch, reptiles. Don’t let reptiles walk (or slither) around in the house—keep them in their cages and tanks. The most common source of the salmonella bacteria is undercooked food, especially eggs and poultry, so be sure to tell your parents or adult caregiver to thoroughly cook your eggs and chicken. (And don’t lick the cake batter if it contains raw eggs!)


Kissing a reptile like a snake or turtle is not a great idea. Reptiles can carry germs that cause salmonella, which will make you very sick to your stomach.


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