Maryland is rife with weird animal stuff nowadays, whether it be the fat mute swans or, now, little baby pet turtles. While the DNR does not require snapping the necks of small turtles, it is illegal to possess or sell them "without a permit." And two people were doing just that!
Baltimore police have seized 96 young turtles from street vendors who illegally sold the animals. Two men were arrested on separate occasions, one May 30 in the 100 block of N. Eutaw St. and the other Monday in the 1700 block of Pennsylvania Ave. They are being charged with attempting to sell an exotic animal and vending without a permit, offenses that carry fines of up to $1,750 and prison time of up to a year.
Since when are turtles "exotic?" Answer: when they come from "turtle farms" in Louisiana and Florida! These specific turtles, the "red-eared sliders," are quite the hot ticket today. A DNR official claims that there's been a "thriving market" for such turtles in Maryland for the past couple of years. They're purchased wholesale for approximately 50 cents apiece and then resold for $10 to $15 apiece.
To children, of course, who think these black-market monsters sold in creepy Baltimore alleys are "cute." The cuteness factor goes away, however, when these children catch devastating salmonella infections from them, and then simply throw them in the trash.
The people who buy the turtles may not realize that they can spread salmonella to children and can grow to be up to a foot long.
"The cuteness attraction isn't there with the big turtles like it is with these little guys," [Maryland Natural Resources Officer K. Michael] Lathroum said. Once the turtles reach their full size and people get tired of taking care of them, they are often released into Maryland waters as an invasive species.