Can chinese supermarkets sell turtles for food?

This market in my town has a tank full of fish and turtles. The conditions are so bad the turtles have to struggle to swim up the tank for air, and many are dead already. Is it legal to do this in the United States?

Not sure if it’s legal in the US, but live turtles are found in just about all supermarkets in China. However, IIRC the turtles are not in a water tank…

I’m trying to think of a reason you couldn’t. I can’t. PETA would hate it, but what don’t they hate?

Seems there are two issues - can turtles be sold as food, and can they be kept in nasty conditions while waiting for buyers?

As to the food issue, I can’t think of any reason why they couldn’t be, as long as they aren’t of a protected species. Do you know what kind of turtles these were?

Overcrowding to the point of killing some turtles may very well violate your state and/or local animal protection laws. Not all states/localities protect reptiles, though. Call your local animal control people, I’m sure they’d know.

You didn’t mention, but are they selling the dead ones, too? I’m guessing that this would be a violation of health ordinances, since you don’t know when they died and they haven’t been stored properly in the meantime. (Unless the ones that you think are dead are just resting at the bottom for a while.)

They’e not DEAD. . . they’re just pining for the fjords. . .

Not to ignore the question of legality, but I, personally, would not buy a live, eatin’ turtle that was not in relatively clean water when I bought it. Growing up, every so often my stepfather would get a call from one of the neighbors when they spotted a good sized snapping turtle (I guess I don’t know if that is a really common name. Large turtles, with a big horney beak, I was always warned to stay away from the head). Since most of the time, the turtle would be found in, or near, a slough, we would fill up an old wooden cistern with water, and keep (and feed) the turtle in their for a week or two, changing the water several times, so that it wouldn’t have a muddy, bad taste.

I would think turtles living in the conditions you describe would foul up a tank pretty fast. Just doesn’t sound appetizing.

data point:

I see them in my local Chinese supermarkets all the time. I had freshwater turtle at my Chinese New Years banquet last week that was bought fresh that morning according to the chef.

They are always in scrupulously clean tanks, the market may have some interesting odors but ammonia is not one of them.

You should report to the local animal rescue or cruelty prevention officer. We don’t allow that here - it is not the fact that they sell turtles, it’s the conditions they live in - you simply cannot cause something to suffer for that length of time. I would very concerned about the condition of the food they sell, all of it. They’re idea of food preservation and presentation is obvously not a good one.

Can’t you also get salmonella from turtles?

The Chinese markets near me sell frogs and turtles; they’re probably the same ones MikeG is talking about. They are scrupulously clean. I don’t see why it’s worse to eat a turtle than, say, a chicken. You’d probably have a heart attack if you saw a commercial chicken coop; I’ve read horror stories about them.

There are differences amongst livestock/general animal cruelty standards and stocking densities. Crickets don’t have to be housed as well as chimpanzees. If you think turtles are crowded, take a look at a tilpapia tank (the production, not show tank). I visited a farm last week where it looked like you could walk across the water they were so jam-packed. There was almost as much fish as water. Walking catfish often don’t even get that. I’ve seen them with a hose spraying over them, that’s it. The only problems I’ve seen aquaculturists face when mis-treating their animals is loosing money from disease and stress problems. Animal cruelty people haven’t come sniffing around fish farms AFAIK.

Keeping turtles really crowded may be allowed as they are in a holding tank and expected to be moved out any minute. It is not permanent living quarters. Usually how clean such tanks are kept is directly proportional to the profit made from them. Low price = the sellers won’t waste their time making the tank sparkly for 10 cents/pound produce. Fancy high-end livestock will get shown much better.

Yeah, you can get it from chickens too. Salmonella cooks out.

Thats why it isn’t a good idea to eat a living or raw turtle. Besides the fact that it might piss the turtle off.