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Though it’s illegal in the US to sell turtles less than 4 inches long in the pet trade, Tessa, a yellow-bellied slider, was purchased as a hatchling at a beach-front store for a friend’s 5-year-old. She spent the first year of her life in a tiny plastic container with an inch of water, no filter, and no lights for basking. She was harassed by the family cats and was even lost in the house for 10 days! I was asked to pet sit for a week and started reading up on turtle care. These tiny turtles grow up to be the size of dinner plates – requiring large tanks, basking areas and special lighting. With proper care, they can live well over 50 years. If they don’t live in the right conditions, they can end up sick, deformed, and in pain. I started campaigning for a transfer of ownership and my friend agreed! Now Tessa lives in a 120 gallon tank, is growing like a weed, and likes to peek at me above the water line. She is so fun to watch and I’m very happy to have her! My friend’s daughter comes over to say hello to her former pet every few weeks. Turtles should not be an impulse buy. Please research proper turtle care, and consider adopting one of the many surrendered sliders that need a good home. Reptiles are not cuddly like dogs and cats, but they are fascinating creatures who deserve our respect and care.

Jami Bailey
Lexington, KY

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