Florida Fish and Wildlife Save Gopher Tortoise Spray Painted By Animal Abusers

By  //  December 12, 2016

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paint can cause respiratory problems

Painting a gopher tortoise can inhibit their ability to absorb vitamins from the sun’s UV rays through their shells, has the potential to cause respiratory problems and can lead to harmful chemicals being absorbed into their bloodstream.

(FWC) – When Officers Cobo and Morrow recently arrived to a residential property in response to a call about an injured gopher tortoise, they encountered something very disturbing – a blue gopher tortoise.

Someone sprayed the tortoise with blue paint. It is both illegal and very harmful to the health of a gopher tortoise to paint any part of their body or shell.

Paint can inhibit their ability to absorb vitamins from the sun’s UV rays through their shells, has the potential to cause respiratory problems and can lead to harmful chemicals being absorbed into their bloodstream.

Further, removing the paint without harming the tortoise is a challenge. Fortunately, the tortoise was taken to an animal rehabilitation facility for paint removal, where it recovered and was eventually released back to its burrow with a slight blue hue.

Gopher tortoises are long-lived reptiles that occupy upland habitat throughout Florida including forests, pastures, and yards.

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They dig deep burrows for shelter and forage on low-growing plants. Gopher tortoises share these burrows with more than 350 other species, and are therefore referred to as a keystone species.

Conservation of gopher tortoises depends not only on the efforts of FWC and other conservation groups, but also on Florida’s citizens.

If you see a painted gopher tortoise or any other painted wildlife, contact our Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). There are many ways to co-exist with these gentle land tortoises. CLICK HERE for more information on gopher tortoises.

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