Myth #1: Turtles will give you Salmonella.
Salmonella bacteria are found naturally in the intestines of mammals, birds, reptiles, some pets, some humans and is also present in the environment. Salmonellosis, a serious infection of the gastrointestinal tract, can be spread by handling animals or even by human-human contact. It is very important to wash your hands thoroughly and practice good hygiene after handling animals or cleaning up after them. Pet turtles have a higher chance of transmitting salmonella because their food and waste accumulates in the stagnant water in their tank, whereas turtles in the wild live in a cleaner environment. While it is possible to get Salmonella from turtles, it is not turtle specific and is easily avoided.
Myth #2: Turtles eat all of the fish in our lakes and are causing a decline in sport fish populations.
Turtles consume small fish, some of which may be the young of some game fish. The impact on these fish populations is very minimal and has no more effect on populations than any other species that relies on them as a food source. Unfortunately, this common misconception has lead to unnecessary death or disregard of many turtles, usually Snappers who are only capable of preying on slow, non-game fish.
Myth #3: A pet turtle will only grow to the size of its enclosure.
Not true. Depending on the adult size of a species, a turtle does not simply stop growing if its tank is too small. Some species grow at slower rates than others and nutrition and habitat quality are a factor as well. Research the species before choosing an enclosure to ensure that it has plenty of room as a fully grown adult. Remember that it is illegal to keep native wildlife as pets in Ontario.