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Tourists urged not to bring tiny Tunisian tortoises home in their suitcases

Tourists urged not to bring tiny Tunisian tortoises home in their suitcases

AN ANIMAL welfare charity is warning Scottish holidaymakers to resist the temptation to bring tiny, rare Tunisian tortoises home in their suitcase. The Scottish SPCA said local street traders in the North African country are selling live tortoises for around £10.

Welfare officers are concerned about the trade in the very small species of tortoise. They are taken from the wild in their thousands and sold to unsuspecting tourists.

Scottish SPCA chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We have seized a number of Tunisian tortoises which have been brought into the country illegally over the past few years. This species is critically endangered and they have very specific care requirements. The people who sell these creatures have no concern whatsoever for their welfare and give tourists incorrect and misleading advice about how to look after them.

“Street sellers will offer the tortoises as souvenirs for about £10 and they are not treated like living, breathing creatures. The tortoises can be as small as a 50 pence piece and tourists will often leave them behind at their accommodation or bring them home in their suitcases.

“Of those smuggled in baggage, the majority will die during the journey or shortly afterwards.

“Our advice to holidaymakers is to walk away from street traders and remember that they may be risking an animal’s life and committing a crime by bringing a tortoise into Scotland.”