Bay Area animal shelters are bracing for what they fear may be an ill-advised rush to acquire pet turtles and tortoises after the box office success of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
"Owning a pet takes planning, equipment, food and commitment. Sadly, many people do little research before acquiring a pet and don't understand and commit to the responsibilities of lifetime ownership," East Bay SPCA President Allison Lindquist said.
"We fear this movie will drive interest in acquiring pet turtles and tortoises," she said.
The East Bay SPCA is reminding the public that owning a turtle or tortoise is a major commitment.
Like other reptiles, turtles and tortoises require specific food, supplements and habitats in order to thrive.
New equipment must be purchased as the animals outgrow their space, and the right setup for a turtle or tortoise can be costly, East Bay SPCA officials said.
SPCA officials report that many reptiles can live for decades and that tortoises can even outlive their owners.
"My advice is to be prepared to potentailly adopt an animal yourself," Exotic Animal Specialist Carmen Sepetka said. "If you're looking at something like a tortoise that'll get over 50 years old, chances are children's interests change, so make sure that your kid is prepared to take on an animal for a long time."
In addition, the public is advised to be aware that some turtle and tortoise owners illegally sell the animals and may sell animals with compromised health or turtles carrying salmonella or other bacteria.
More information about turtles and tortoises can be found at the Humane Society of the United States' website at http://www.humanesociety.org.