CONSERVATION groups are warning pet owners about purchasing hatchling Horsfield’s tortoises which are being imported with herpes and other contagious diseases.
The hatchlings are being offered for sale as “captive-bred” animals but are suspected of being bred from wild females or harvested from the wild in Uzbekistan and Russia.
Unlike other species of tortoise, no licence is needed to import Horsfield’s tortoises into Ireland once they are “captive-bred”. The importation and sale of wild creatures is strictly banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangers Species (Cites).
Traffic, a conservation group which monitors trade in wildlife, believes many farmed animals that are being sold in pet shops originated in the wild.
“The issue is they’re wild-sourced, but declared as ‘captive-bred’ to get around Cites trade restrictions. This type of fraud is probably the biggest single wildlife crime issue facing the EU in terms of live animals,” said a spokesman.