Stolen tortoises face death

A PET shop owner today told of her fears for two rare tortoises stolen from her store which face a slow death if not given specialist care.

A PET shop owner today told of her fears for two rare tortoises stolen from her store which face a slow death if not given specialist care.

The pair of tiny Hermann's Tortoises - valued at £175 each - were snatched from Sonia Mayes' Felixstowe shop while she was not looking.

Without the right temperature-controlled housing and regular UV light, Mrs Mayes' said the tortoises, which are from Greece and are less than a year old, could be dead within a couple of days.

She said: “They really need to go in a vivarium at night with a UV light on. Without that they'll deteriorate very quickly.

“They're an endangered species now and you have to have a licence to keep them so it would be hard for someone to sell them on.”

The theft happened at Mrs Mayes' Felixstowe Aquatics and Reptiles shop in Grange Road sometime between 11.30am and 1.30pm on Saturday when Mrs Mayes had left the vivarium they were kept in with another Hermann's Tortoise unlocked so that they could be fed.

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She said: “I took the locks off and customers came in and wanted to see me and I forgot all about them for an hour-and-a-half. Then when I put their food in I realised two had gone.

“As soon as I realised they had gone I called the police.

“They're so small they could have just gone in their pockets or they could have walked out with them in their hands.”

Suffolk police are investigating the theft and a spokesman for the force said: “The theft of these tortoises which must be kept in special conditions has caused a great deal of anxiety for their owners and I would urge anyone who has any information to contact police as quickly as possible.”

Calls should be made to Pc Timothy Walker on 01473 613500.

Last month another Hermann's Tortoise was stolen from the Pets Etcetera shop in Chelmsford and staff there also appealed for its safe return. On that occasion a couple distracted shop workers by buying a hamster.

Have you had a pet stolen? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

FastFacts: Hermann's Tortoise, Testudo hermanni

Hermann's tortoises are small to medium sized tortoises which come from southern Europe

Young animals, and some adults, have black and yellow patterned carapaces

They are found in the wild in a variety of habitats including woods, scrub, heath, grassland and farmland

Adult males tend to be smaller than females and have much larger and longer tails

SOURCE: www.tortoise.org

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