Many people wonder what the difference between turtles, tortoises and terrapins are. Turtles are sea-dwelling species of the superorder Chelonia, while tortoises refer to the land-dwelling species. Terrapin is used to describe several species of small, edible, hard-shell turtles, typically those found in brackish waters.
Tortoises have many natural enemies, but the biggest is the human race. That is because humans are responsible for habitat destruction through ‘indiscriminate agricultural and urban development’. Tortoises are also illegally collected for wild pet trade.
The geometric tortoise is South Africa’s most endangered terrestrial tortoise and one of the world’s top 25 most endangered tortoise and freshwater turtle species. They have been classified as critically endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
Any person wanting to keep this animal as a pet, must attain a permit for such an animal, as it is strictly illegal to remove this animal from the wild. It may also not be transported, possessed, imported or exported without a permit.
Terrapins’ naturalenemies are also mostly humans for the same reason as turtles. Terrapins are not allowed to be kept as pets in South Africa, whether they are indigenous or exotic.
Terrapins need to be handled very carefully and are not considered good pets for children. They are also very messy but need a clean environment to survive, which will mean a lot of time spent cleaning their enclosures.
The earliest known turtles date from 220 million years ago, making turtles one of the oldest reptile groups and a more ancient group than lizards, snakes or crocodiles. Of the many species alive today, some are highly endangered. Isn’t that enough reason to do everything in your power to protect these species in the wild?
Support Junk Mail in the Operation Bite Back campaign by reporting any suspicious sales or advertisements to Junk Mail Pet Care. You can also report traders or pet shops selling these reptiles by contacting your nearest SPCA.