The Humane Society of the United States

Turtles and Tortoises

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Low, slow, and amazing, turtles once roamed Earth with the dinosaurs. Now many species on land and in water face extinction. If you're a turtle fan, help us protect them. One easy way: Enjoy turtles in the wild, not as pets. It's safer for both you and for these fascinating reptiles.

Like elephants and whales, turtles spend a long time growing up. Until their shell hardens, they are very vulnerable to predators.

Turtles are often killed or taken from the wild as pets, food, or trinkets before they reproduce. For many populations of turtles, the loss of only a few adults can spell doom.

Development and pollution destroy their land and water habitats, fishing nets drown them, and cars crush them—the threats to turtles have never been greater.

Getting a turtle as a pet is risky for you, too: They carry Salmonella. That's why it's illegal to sell small turtles, though many are sold illegally.

Teaming Up to Rescue Tortoises

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Until recently, Florida allowed imperiled gopher tortoises to be killed -- often buried alive -- for the sake of construction projects. The HSUS recently teamed up with other humane groups to spare one group of tortoises this grim fate in Tarpon Springs.

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