If you go see the Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Movie in August, the American Tortoise Rescue has some advice: Don't run out and buy your own personal Donatello.
Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, the founders of the American Tortoise Rescue, note that when the first Ninja Turtle movie was released in 1990, "hundreds of thousands of live turtles, mostly water turtles called red eared sliders, were purchased for between $10 and $25." The rush to own pets after watching a movie isn't just a turtles-only phenomenon, as the surge in unwanted Dalmatians (after the Disney movie) and owls (after the Harry Potter films) shows.
There's a high likelihood of disillusionment, sadly, with an impulse pet. Buying a mild-mannered slider after watching two hours of giant, talking turtles with ninjutsu skills, in particular, is just setting kids up for disappointment, Tellem and Thompson say:
Unfortunately, children do not realize that real turtles do not fly, perform stunts or do any of the exciting moves fictional movie turtles do. Parents, trying to please their children, purchased live turtles which ended up languishing in tanks. Or, when the kids realized after a few weeks that these were not ninja turtles, the turtles were dumped illegally into rivers and lakes as well as dumpsters.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures, Tellem and Thompson point out, don't pose a risk for salmonella (but they do come with Shredder-defeating accessories).
Like all pets, turtles should become part of a home after only careful consideration, to make sure you'll love them long after the explosions have stopped ringing in your ears.