Slow and steady may win the race when it’s a tale of tortoise vs. hare, but when it comes to owning exotic pets who aren’t native to B.C., there are no winners. Eddie, an African spurred tortoise recently found near Simon Fraser University, came into the care of the Burnaby SPCA when a Good Samaritan brought him in.
The third-largest species of tortoise in the world, these reptiles are native to the southern edge of the Sahara desert in northern Africa and have specific diet and living environment requirements that exotic pet owners may be unaware of or unable to provide.
“These tortoises belong in the desert. They can live up to 150 years and can weigh up to 200 pounds, and pet owners may not realize how hard it can be to provide for their needs,” says Dr. Sara Dubois, chief scientific officer at the BC SPCA. “Eddie can out-live several owners. The fact he was found as a stray is even sadder since he could have easily been killed by a car. Leaving him to fend for himself alone is horrible.”
Current exotics laws don’t prohibit their sale, so stories like Eddie’s really emphasize the need to change such laws, Dubois notes.
An expert reptile veterinarian has been consulted and will be recommending a placement for Eddie, whom SPCA staff hope will eventually be re-homed in a sanctuary that caters to his species.
“There are very few reptile sanctuaries and many are full – yet another reason why people shouldn’t own exotic pets,” Dubois says. “We just want to encourage people to research exotic animals and their needs if they’re considering purchasing an exotic pet. Hopefully that will lead them to think twice before buying a pet they shouldn’t have.”
For more information, visit spca.bc.ca/exotics.
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.