Florida officials ask public to stop painting turtle shells
Tuesday, August 9, 2016, 6:38 PM - The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding people to refrain from decorating turtles and tortoises after two gopher tortoises were found with painted shells.
The commission shared an image on Facebook, reminding people that painting turtles and tortoises is illegal and it can be harmful.
"Gopher tortoises and freshwater turtles get vitamins they need to grow and stay healthy by absorbing the sun’s UV rays through their shells – paint or nail polish can block these needed rays," the FWC says in a statement.
"Paint fumes can also cause respiratory problems, and chemicals can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the shell. In addition, a painted tortoise or turtle is more easily noticed by predators, making them more vulnerable to predation."
The FWC also posted photos of the other gopher tortoise, before and after cleaning.
"As you can see ... sometimes not every bit of paint can be removed or some staining remains, depending on the location of the paint and how long it was on," the FWC says.
"Removing the paint can take several cleaning sessions by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator to minimize stress to the animal and must be done with treatments that don’t further injure the tortoise; at times a tortoise may need to be sedated by a veterinarian to effectively remove the paint."
People who come across turtles or tortoises with painted shells are advised not to attempt to remove the paint.
Instead, they should contact their local wildlife regional office.
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