ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. - After a carnival operator was fined $1,000 for giving away tiny turtles as a prize at the mid state fair, the Department of Fish and Wildlife busted a man selling the turtles illegally on the Internet.
The alleged Craigslist seller was selling the turtles from his home in Oceano, where the Department of Fish and Wildlife went undercover to expose him.
Though it's not illegal to own baby turtles, it is against the law to sell them when they are less than 4 inches in size.
A total of 33 turtles were taken from the home, where officials say they were not being properly taken care of.
Bob Thomas, a turtle and tortoise expert says baby turtles not only need to live in water but they need sunlight.
Thomas, who runs the Turtle and Tortoise Rescue in Arroyo Grande, also says from the turtles that were confiscated, there were some that were already dead when he received them. Others have bone diseases and even rotten shells.
Despite their harmless appearance, these reptiles carry a bacteria called salmonella which can be easily spread.
"Well in 1975 there were 70,000 children with Salmonella poisoning. The kids would take them home, put them in their room, playing with them and then not washing their hands and a lot of kids were very sick and some of them even died from it," said Thomas.
The turtles will remain in the care of Thomas until they grow to 4 inches or more, that's when it is safe to sell or give them away.
If you own a baby turtle and would like to know more about how to take proper care of it, click here or call (805) 481-5222