LEVEL 4: The Untouchables (or Unkeepables)

(a) Tortoises

South African Tortoises

This is rather a banner category but encompasses those smallish tortoises found in southern Africa: members of the genera Psammobates and Homopus, plus the Bowsprit Tortoise, Chersina angulata (aka the Angulated Tortoise). Virtually all Bowsprit Tortoises exported to the US or Europe died within months, and the species is now protected, so you are unlikely (hopefully) ever to see it outside a zoo or its natural habitat. The other two genera have fared little better, and while advanced keepers in the south-west US might be justified in trying to obtain a couple of specimens for breeding purposes, the moist climate of the UK would be certain death to these tortoises unless considerable money was spent on setting up a very dry and self-contained terrarium (ie in a zoo).

Gopher Tortoises

Despite their loveable-sounding name and the fact that they hail from the southern US (not normally considered home to difficult creatures), gopher tortoises are considered almost impossible to keep alive outside the range of their normal habitat. Their natural environment is dry open plains, in which they create burrows often over 20 feet long, and where individual tortoises have very precisely defined ranges, even by reptilian standards. Most other places in the world are simply too humid for gophers, and in addition they are under threat of extinction in the wild. Again, should you come across anyone offering one for sale, inform the law.

(b) Aquatic Turtles

Any marine turtle (Leatherbacks, etc)

Even if you had a large swimming pool and could set up the correct salinity, you could not keep one of these alive without the resources of a zoo. All marine turtles are large creatures that live on a special diet and are protected under international law. If you like them, go see one in a zoo or aquarium instead.

Picture of Marine Turtle in Red Sea courtesy of Mr David Nurse

Picture of Marine Turtle in Red Sea courtesy of Mr David Nurse, 1999

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