Florida wildlife officials have a message for people who like to paint the shells of live turtles and tortoises in bright colors: stop it.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently posted pictures on social media of two threatened gopher tortoises with painted shells. Officials say it's illegal and also harmful to the animals.
"Tortoises and turtles don't need touch-ups!" the agency wrote in a Facebook post. "...Please leave wildlife wild and admire our turtles and tortoises for their natural beauty – paint-free."
The Miami Herald reports that painting shells of turtles and tortoises can hinder their ability to absorb vitamins from the sun, cause respiratory problems and allow toxic chemicals into their blood.
The Wildlife Commission says the paint also makes the tortoises and turtles more noticeable and vulnerable to predators. Paint can be removed, but it is sometimes a difficult process that may require the animals to be sedated.