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American Tortoise Rescue calls for a halt on aales and breeding of sulcatas

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 5:30 a.m. CDT

MALIBU, CALIFORNIA – American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) in Malibu, California, is calling on the pet industry, reptile wholesalers, craigslist.org and private breeders to stop the breeding and sale of giant tortoises commonly called sulcatas.

Geochelone sulcata is a hardy and personable species of tortoise. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, it became part of the lucrative pet trade during the 1990s. Hatchlings are extremely cute making them one of the most commonly purchased pet tortoises in North America, usually as an impulse buy.

Unknown to the unwary buyer, however, is that sulcatas are the third largest species of tortoise in the world weighing up to 200 pounds, often attaining a large and destructive size in a short period of time.

Adult female sulcatas can easily produce 50 –100 eggs a year. It is not unusual to see hundreds of hatchlings for sale at reptile shows that sell for anywhere between $100 and $1,000.

Worse, the sulcata, which requires sunshine and warm weather throughout the year, is sold in all 50 states, many of which suffer freezing temperatures. “

They do not hibernate, which means an owner must provide a large outdoor house with heat throughout cold winter months.  

A sulcata is strong and aggressive and can easily move furniture and damage house or apartment. They eat all the grass and plants and dig massive holes outside much to a homeowner’s dismay.

Rescues typically receive many distressed calls from owners who want to get rid of their sulcatas, most often when it reaches 50 pounds or 10 years of age. Many owners assume that when the tortoise becomes a problem, zoos will take them. zoos are not interested in cast-off pets.

For more information, visit www.tortoise.com.

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