Few people get the chance to observe a tortoise in the wild. When one encounters a tortoise, the first reaction may be to want to “help” it by bringing it home. However, doing so is not only illegal, but is harmful to the tortoise. So, what should you do if you find a tortoise? That depends on where you find the tortoise.
If you find a tortoise in an undeveloped area, it is likely a wild tortoise. This is a rare encounter that few people ever get a chance to experience, so enjoy it, but do not disturb the tortoise.
Tortoises have many remarkable adaptations that allow them to withstand even the harsh conditions – they do not need to be provided food and shelter by humans. Removing a tortoise from the wild dooms the tortoise to a life in captivity, and they can live a long time! Once a wild tortoise is brought into captivity, it may be exposed to diseases or parasites from other pets that would be detrimental to wild tortoise populations.
The only situation in which a wild tortoise should be handled is if it is crossing the road and is in immediate danger. In this case you can gently lift it (not too high) off the road, being mindful of traffic, and carefully put it on the other side, facing the same direction it was going. Otherwise, simply let the tortoise be and enjoy the opportunity to observe such a remarkable ancient animal.
If you find a tortoise in a residential area, away from any natural areas, it is likely an escaped captive tortoise. Please contact us to make arrangements to get this tortoise in the Tortoise centre or release it back to the wild. Meanwhile, keep it in a clean, dry box in a quiet location, either inside or in the shade.