WHAG NEWS - The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back on the big screen and with some youngsters seeing the crime fighting turtles for the first time, it could spike the sales of pet turtles.
That's why the Maryland Natural Resources Police are warning parents that turtles less than 4 inches are illegal by federal and state law.
"These little tiny, typically they are quarter to 50 cent sized, red-eared sliders are very easy to acquire through turtle farms and offered for sale and we have been getting complaints on them for the last eight years," said Cpl. Mike Lathroum, Maryland Natural Resources Police.
The reason is linked to major health risks.
"It is well documented that they can carry salmonella, which can be transmitted to people, small children especially who are typically the ones who are probably going to be most attracted to these small turtles. They are not real good at washing their hands after they have handled a small animal, like a small turtle. And these small turtles are so small they are easily placed in a child's mouth" said Cpl. Lathroum.
A local pet shop said they have many requests for small turtles.
"Oh people ask all the time, and we tell them that it's a federal law, not a state law, it is federal," said Andrew Lankasky, general manager, Rick's Food and Pet Supply.
NRP said there is no harm in buying a turtle but if you do want to buy one you have to make sure its the right size and you know how much responsibility it takes to have one.
"The turtles have potential to live 40 to 50 years or more, people are not prepared to make that kind of commitment, then they really should, probably not, purchase a live turtle, they should buy a toy or take the kids to the zoo or the aquarium," said Cpl. Lathroum.
If you see the illegal selling of turtles, the NRP asks for you to report it at (410)-260-8888.