Fictional foursome could wreak havoc on real reptiles

By Kelsey Gibbs |

Published 08/05 2014 05:40PM

Updated 08/05 2014 05:48PM

ILLINOIS -- Turtles are designed to live in the wild, but conservation officers worry more people will want them for pets. It's a concern across the country and in Illinois. Turtle fever is being blamed on four fictional turtles. WCIA-3's Kelsey Gibbs keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

It's all thanks to the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies. The newest film hits theaters Friday. Conservation officers worry people will run to the pet stores to get a real one and it's not a reptile which should be a pet.

The new film should be a blockbuster hit, with many retailers hoping to sell out of shirts and toys. Turtle sales are also expected to spike, but it's not a pet which is easy to care for.

"People need to realize that this is a lifetime commitment and this turtle will never be able to be released. Yes, we could have lots of people call us and say, 'Can we bring you a turtle we no longer want?'"

Janet Littlefoot with the Macon County Conservation District says there's no doubt these reptiles are cute, but they can carry diseases like salmonella.

"It usually turns out bad for the turtle whether it's bought at a pet store or it's picked up out of the wild."

According to a new state law, it's illegal to buy, sell or offer any aquatic or semi-aquatic turtles. They're eggs can't be sold either. Littlefoot says many times children forget baby turtles grow, causing kids to lose interest and parents wind up looking for a new home for the pet.

"We can't accept more animals. We don't have the staff and money to care care of them all."

The founders of the American Tortoise Rescue said purchases of pet turtles followed the release of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film in 1990.

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