Tortoises from South America are some of the most popular species to be kept as pets, largely because of their beautiful colors. The red-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria) is a common tortoise species for hobbyists that's native to South and Central America. These animals are considered easy to care for because they tolerate a range of conditions. They enjoy shady spots and are primarily herbivores. They're appreciated for their outgoing nature and their shells reach 12 to 14 inches. These reptiles sometimes dig burrows in search of moisture. The yellow-footed tortoise (Geochelone denticulata) is a bit more shy than the redfoots, but eventually warms up to its keepers. Because these turtles are a protected species in their homeland, it's recommended they only be acquired through a breeder. The radiated tortoise (Geochelone radiata) is prized for its unusual diagonal-patterned black and off-white shell. These omnivores require temperatures between 75 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit and should only be acquired through a breeder because of their protected status.
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Many species of pet tortoise originate from the deserts, savannah and forests of Africa. The African spurred tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) make good pets because they're excitable, outgoing animals with big appetites. They come from the driest parts of Africa and have a tendency to burrow. As the third largest tortoises in the world and the largest mainland tortoises on Earth, their shells can reach 24 to 30 inches long, so they require a comparatively big enclosure. Leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis) are somewhat smaller at 15 to 18 inches. They require a rather hot environment at about 90 degrees and are recommended for experienced tortoise owners. The ivory snow leopard tortoise is a highly desired variant because of its beautiful creamy white carapace with dark and light brown markings. The African forest hinge back tortoise (Kinixys homeana) is unusual because it can close the back of its plastron (the belly part of the shell) to protect its legs and tail. These tortoises enjoy lots of moisture and shade, and need an area in which to bathe.
Tortoises do not make good pets for young children
To stem the loss, Indian authorities have made it illegal to possess or export any animals caught in the wild, but they’ve done little to enforce those protections. In the country’s poor, rural areas, people rely on the tortoises as a ready (and easy to catch) source of protein. Elsewhere, Indians celebrate the reptiles as the second incarnation of Vishnu, a Hindu god. Thought to be good luck, these spirit turtles are decorated with vermilion and kept as pets at home or in temples, where they are often not adequately cared for. (Even in temples, the tortoises are at risk for .)
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