THE FDA BAN on turtles - FACT AND FICTION
First, let us say, please do not contact us regarding the sale or adoption
of hatchling turtles (babies) under 4" carapace size. THEY ARE STRICTLY
FORBIDDEN FOR SALE OR DISTRIBUTION OF ANY KIND IN THE U.S.
(yes - even if no money exchanges hands)
The federal law that is outlined below is taken verbatim, directly from the
FDA's public website at the link provided below. The facts are very simple and
plain. It is ILLEGAL, not only to offer for sale, but to offer for
ANY public distribution, turtles
under a 4" carapace (shell) size or turtle eggs. Whether it be under the guise
of “adoption” (i.e. the turtle is free, you only pay for supplies or shipping
and handling - that is illegal public distribution), art, science, gifts,
exhibition or the like, it
(click). Unless you, individually,
a bona fide scientific, educational, or exhibitional entity,
such as a research biologist, exhibiting zoo, museum or school, that can provide
a sworn affidavit stating such, you are not legally allowed to receive the
banned baby turtles or turtle eggs. If you ARE in this category, then we can
provide you with the proper affidavits for you to complete. If you are NOT one
of those legally exempted from the ban, then it is illegal for you to receive
them and it is illegal for us to sell them to you, give them to you, allow you
to adopt them or ship them to you.
That being stated, we are working diligently to have this ban lifted. We,
as an industry of legal, licensed and law abiding turtle farmers, have taken
great lengths to improve the advancement of research to raise healthy turtle
hatchlings in the hopes of opening the sale of these wonderful reptiles back in
the United States. It is detrimental to all efforts trying to reach
that goal if this current ban is not adhered to. Why is all of this so
(click here for more).
IMPORTANT There are current legal alternatives.
There is available to
you, the public, a variety of over 26 species of turtles that meet the FDA's
legal status. Some of these turtles can be seen in our turtle gallery
at left. While some states have their own laws governing a specific turtle and
owning it in that state, most do not, allowing you a significant array of alternatives.
You can get a legal turtle that is only a couple of inches
larger (and very legal) from reputable pet stores likely to be in your own area
(we will provide a list soon). If you can't locate one, then contact us. If we can't put you in touch with
a legitimate supplier of legal turtles, and you still can’t find one then we'll
provide you with a turtle ourselves. We are not interested in selling to the
retail industry in general, we are primarily wholesalers of large quantities of
turtles. We do not, however, want the public to be punished
(click) by being misled nor the
industry to be harmed by this continued disregard for laws. You now
have an opportunity to legally get what you're looking for.
We are asking everyone to please take this individual, ethical and legal
responsibility seriously. You are ultimately responsible for being
knowledgeable about the laws that you could very well be breaking. We will do
what we can to help. We believe that by making the public aware of these laws,
and offering legal alternatives, it will discourage unscrupulous groups from taking advantage of the public.
You may be told that all you have to do to receive these turtles or eggs is to
say it's art or it's for scientific or
educational purposes. Not only is this unethical, it is
also illegal unless you are a bona fide exempt group or individual, so please do
not ask us to do this. We believe that the vast majority of
the public are upstanding law abiding individuals that want to do the right
thing and are just unaware of the law. That's why we are making such efforts to make you aware of the laws,
because there are groups out there that will not.
you feel that you are being misled by someone trying to sell, give away or have
you adopt hatchling turtles or if you are aware of someone violating these laws,
please contact your local FDA office immediately. If you do not know how to
reach the FDA, please contact us and we'll provide you with the phone listings for the
local office in your region. We sincerely appreciate your honest efforts in
helping us make the public aware and safe.
[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 21, Volume 8]
[Revised as of April 1, 2003]
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
TITLE 21--FOOD AND DRUGS
CHAPTER I--FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
1240--CONTROL OF COMMUNICABLE DISEASES
Subpart D--Specific Administrative Decisions Regarding Interstate Shipments
Sec. 1240.62 Turtles intrastate and interstate requirements.
(a) Definition. As used in this section the term ``turtles``
includes all animals commonly known as turtles, tortoises, terrapins,
and all other animals of the order Testudinata, class Reptilia, except
marine species (families Dermachelidae and Chelonidae).
(b) Sales; general prohibition. Except as otherwise provided in this
section, viable turtle eggs and live turtles with a carapace length of
less than 4 inches shall not be sold, held for sale, or offered for any
other type of commercial or public distribution.
(c) Destruction of turtles or turtle eggs; criminal penalties. (1)
Any viable turtle eggs or live turtles with a carapace length of less
than 4 inches which are held for sale or offered for any other type of
commercial or public distribution shall be subject to destruction in a
humane manner by or under the supervision of an officer or employee of
the Food and Drug Administration in accordance with the following
(i) Any District Office of the Food and Drug Administration, upon
detecting viable turtle eggs or live turtles with a carapace length of
less than 4 inches which are held for sale or offered for any other type
of commercial or public distribution, shall serve upon the person in whose possession
such turtles or turtle eggs are found a written demand that such turtles
or turtle eggs be destroyed in a humane manner under the supervision of
said District Office, within 10 working days from the date of
promulgation of the demand. The demand shall recite with particularity
the facts which justify the demand. After service of the demand, the
person in possession of the turtles or turtle eggs shall not sell,
distribute, or otherwise dispose of any of the turtles or turtle eggs
except to destroy them under the supervision of the District Office,
unless and until the Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied
Nutrition withdraws the demand for destruction after an appeal pursuant
to paragraph (c)(1)(ii) of this section.
(ii) The person on whom the demand for destruction is served may
either comply with the demand or, within 10 working days from the date
of its promulgation, appeal the demand for destruction to the Director
of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug
Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740. The
demand for destruction may also be appealed within the same period of 10
working days by any other person having a pecuniary interest in such
turtles or turtle eggs. In the event of such an appeal, the Center
Director shall provide an opportunity for hearing by written notice to
the appellant(s) specifying a time and place for the hearing, to be held
within 14 days from the date of the notice but not within less than 7
days unless by agreement with the appellant(s).
(iii) Appearance by any appellant at the hearing may be by mail or
in person, with or without counsel. The hearing shall be conducted by
the Center Director or his designee, and a written summary of the
proceedings shall be prepared by the person presiding. Any appellant
shall have the right to hear and to question the evidence on which the
demand for destruction is based, including the right to cross-examine
witnesses, and he may present oral or written evidence in response to
(iv) If, based on the evidence presented at the hearing, the Center
Director finds that the turtles or turtle eggs were held for sale or
offered for any other type of commercial or public distribution in
violation of this section, he shall affirm the demand that they be
destroyed under the supervision of an officer or employee of the Food
and Drug Administration; otherwise, the Center Director shall issue a
written notice that the prior demand by the District Office is
withdrawn. If the Center Director affirms the demand for destruction he
shall order that the destruction be accomplished in a humane manner
within 10 working days from the date of the promulgation of his
decision. The Center Director`s decision shall be accompanied by a
statement of the reasons for the decision. The decision of the Center
Director shall constitute final agency action, reviewable in the courts.
(v) If there is no appeal to the Director of the Center for Food
Safety and Applied Nutrition from the demand by the Food and Drug
Administration District Office and the person in possession of the
turtles or turtle eggs fails to destroy them within 10 working days, or
if the demand is affirmed by the Director of the Center for Food Safety
and Applied Nutrition after an appeal and the person in possession of
the turtles or turtle eggs fails to destroy them within 10 working days,
the District Office shall designate an officer or employee to destroy
the turtles or turtle eggs. It shall be unlawful to prevent or to
attempt to prevent such destruction of turtles or turtle eggs by the
officer or employee designated by the District Office. Such destruction
will be stayed if so ordered by a court pursuant to an action for review
in the courts as provided in paragraph (c)(1)(iv) of this section.
(2) Any person who violates any provision of this section, including
but not limited to any person who sells, offers for sale, or offers for
any other type of commercial or public distribution viable turtle eggs
or live turtles with a carapace length of less than 4 inches, or who
refuses to comply with a valid final demand for destruction of turtles
or turtle eggs (either an unappealed demand by an FDA District Office or
a demand which has been affirmed by the Director of the Center for Food
and Applied Nutrition pursuant to appeal), or who fails to comply with
the requirement in such a demand that the manner of destruction be
humane, shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 or
imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both, for each violation, in
accordance with section 368 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C.
(d) Exceptions. The provisions of this section are not applicable
(1) The sale, holding for sale, and distribution of live turtles and
viable turtle eggs for bona fide scientific, educational, or
exhibitional purposes, other than use as pets.
(2) The sale, holding for sale, and distribution of live turtles and
viable turtle eggs not in connection with a business.
(3) The sale, holding for sale, and distribution of live turtles and
viable turtle eggs intended for export only, provided that the outside
of the shipping package is conspicuously labeled ``For Export Only.``
(4) Marine turtles excluded from this regulation under the
provisions of paragraph (a) of this section and eggs of such turtles.
(e) Petitions. The Commissioner of Food and Drugs, either on his own
initiative or on behalf of any interested person who has submitted a
petition, may publish a proposal to amend this regulation. Any such
petition shall include an adequate factual basis to support the
petition, and will be published for comment if it contains reasonable
grounds for the proposed regulation. A petition requesting such a
regulation, which would amend this regulation, shall be submitted to the
Dockets Management Branch, Food and Drug Administration, rm. 1-23, 12420
Parklawn Dr., Rockville, MD 20857.
[40 FR 22545, May 23, 1975, as amended at 46 FR 8461, Jan. 27, 1981; 48
FR 11431, Mar. 18, 1983; 54 FR 24900, June 12, 1989; 59 FR 14366, Mar.
28, 1994; 66 FR 56035, Nov. 6, 2001]