Thursday, February 02, 2017

Anyone Lost a Tortoise?

Stray tortoise found in NE London garden - Owner being sought by RSPCA who were called in to rescue reptile

The RSPCA’s busy inspectors and officers are used to being called out to rescue cats, dogs and foxes in London each day. But, every now and again, they get called to help something a little more unusual….

This week, the animal welfare charity was called to a garden in north-east London to collect a stray tortoise.

RSPCA animal welfare officer (AWO) Nicola Thomas visited Bute Road, Ilford, on Saturday afternoon (28 January) after a member of the public spotted a Horsfield tortoise nestled in the garden.

“Unfortunately, the reptile wasn’t in great condition and had suffered multiple injuries to his legs and tail, possibly caused by another animal such as a dog,” AWO Thomas explains.

“We collected the tortoise and took him to a local centre for treatment and are now seeking the owner.

“It’s been so cold and wet recently that he would have struggled to survive on his own outside in this weather.

“I suspect he’s a pet but has escaped from his enclosure. However, there is a possibility that he’s been abandoned deliberately because his owners could no longer care for him.”

The reptile was registered with Pets Located and the RSPCA urges anyone who thinks the tortoise, an adult thought to be around 15 to 20-years-old - may belong to them to get in touch by calling the appeal line on 0300 123 8018. Sadly, he wasn’t microchipped and, as tortoises are very difficult to sex, it’s not clear whether he is in fact male or female.

Around the same time of year in 2016, the RSPCA were called once again to rescue some tortoises - this time from Paddington train station. The pair of tiny reptiles were found abandoned in a box marked: ‘For Heathrow Customs Quarantine’ by a member of staff on a platform.

Unfortunately, it’s a trend that is on the rise in England. The animal welfare charity - the oldest and largest in the country - has been seeing an increase in the number of exotic animals, such as tortoises, coming into its care.

Reptiles are ectotherms which means that they cannot control their own body temperature and rely on their environment to warm up or cool down when needed. This tortoise would have struggled to survive outside in the British weather at this time of year. If a reptile becomes too cold they may be unable to feed or move normally and their immune system will not work properly to fight disease, meaning the animal can become very ill.

Keeping exotic animals as pets takes a lot of commitment and we urge any potential owners to thoroughly research what is required in the care of the particular species before taking one on, as they need to make sure they can give their animal the environment it needs and that they have the facilities, time, financial means and long-term commitment to maintain a good standard of care, as required under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

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