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S.C. CARES educates on how to treat tortoises

Torty’s legs are small and can only handle his own weight.
Torty’s legs are small and can only handle his own weight.

After a visit to the Georgetown area by the “turtle man” I’m prompted to explain some things about tortoises.

I understand the draw and curiosity for people who see a prehistoric looking creature on the side of the road, it’s a must stop moment…but for these animals not a good thing. The best way that I have in my arsenal to help these creatures is to educate people on the animals themselves. As I pulled into the parking area where people had gathered to see the tortoises my first sight was seeing two 50-60 pound young girls both sitting and bouncing on one of tortoises, at the same time. Parents and the man who brought the tortoises out there were not fazed by this at all.

As I pulled into the parking area where people had gathered to see the tortoises my first sight was seeing two 50-60 pound young girls both sitting and bouncing on one of tortoises, at the same time. Parents and the man who brought the tortoises out there were not fazed by this at all.

As I approached I watched the tortoise try to move away from the girls as his legs folded under the weight of them bouncing as he attempted to walk. I spoke to the girls telling them not to do that — he was not a toy on the playground! No resolution was reached and sadly I had to drive away leaving the tortoises to continue to be abused.

These tortoises are African Spurred Sulcata Tortoises who should be living in the deserts of the Sahara, but are being marketed and sold in the exotic pet industry which is already over saturated with unwanted tortoises. These creatures are not pack animals! Their bodies are not set up to carry any more weight other than their own. Their legs are small compared to weight of their bodies and would definitely be under stress with additional weight such as a human sitting on them.

Aside from the abuse of people trying to “ride” them, they’re put out in grass areas that are sprayed with chemicals and full of car exhaust, which is toxic to these creatures munching away. It may take years for the negative effects to occur but they will and death is still death, especially for creatures that have a lifespan of 100 years.

Please find it in your heart to have compassion for these creatures and stop supporting the humans who exploit them. There are no laws to protect exotic animals such as tortoises so there is no recourse for people that care about their well being, other than to try to convince others to care too.

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