According to the online newspaper NJ.com, New Jersey prohibits the sale of small turtles due to the fact that they are a known source of salmonella infections in children and adults. The Food and Drug Administration created a ban on the sale of small turtles in 1975 due to the risk of illness. Salmonella bacteria can cause diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort.
According to ABC News, it is illegal to sell turtles throughout New Jersey, but turtles can be kept as pets if purchased outside of the state, except in the city of Camden, where it is illegal to keep a turtle regardless of the circumstances. Turtles carry the salmonella bacteria on their shells, and the germs are easily transmitted to humans.
The Humane Society explains that the FDA enforces the ban on small turtles and advises consumers not to purchase turtles and keep them as pets. Babies and children are at risk of becoming infected with salmonella indirectly as well. If an adult cleans a turtle tank or handles a turtle by its shell and comes in contact with a child, the bacteria can easily be transferred. In certain cases, the ban on turtle sales can be temporarily lifted if the turtles are purchased for research or educational purposes.