New Tortoise Law Now In Effect


New tortoise law now in effect
17th December 2012

by Karen Pickwick

New rules affecting new applications for the sale of tortoises came into effect on November 1.

Issued by Animal Health /DEFRA, the new rules state that CITES-protected tortoises measuring 60mm or more must be micro-chipped, using one of the newly available ‘mini-microchips’ that are safe for use on smaller specimens. 

Previously, tortoises needed to be at least 100mm before they could be chipped using the larger old-style microchip.

The Reptile and Exotic Pet Trade Association welcomes the changes following many years of highlighting the issues caused by the previous system.

“These changes will hopefully clear up much of the ambiguity and unnecessary bureaucracy that tarnished the old system, and hopefully this will mark the end of unfair prosecutions for store owners tripped up by red tape.”

Tortoise checklist
The most commonly traded tortoise species requiring Article 10 paperwork are the Hermann tortoise (Testudo hermanni), Spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) and Marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata).  See the tables below for a full list of tortoise species that require CITES paperwork and for a list of the commonly-seen pet species.

•    If you offer one of these species for sale which is smaller than 60mm it does not require any microchip or identification marking
•    Specimens over 60mm require identification using one of the new ‘mini micro-chips’
•    Tortoises which have already reached 100mm in length at the time of the application can be marked with any type of microchip as long as it is fully compliant with the required ISO standards
•    The plastron length should be stated on every application for unmarked tortoises
•    This change applies only to new applications and all existing paperwork which contains the old condition regarding the 100mm limit is still valid. 

Common tortoise  species seen for sale in the UK and other EU member states
Hermann tortoise       
Testudo hermanni          Annex A      Certificate required
Spur-thighed tortoise  Testudo graeca              Annex A      Certificate required
Marginated tortoise    
Testudo marginata         Annex A      Certificate required
Horsfield tortoise        
Testudo horsfieldi           Annex B      Not required
Leopard tortoise         
Geochelone pardalis      Annex B      Not required
Sulcata tortoise          
Geochelone sulcata       Annex B      Not required
Indian star tortoise     
Geochelone elegans      Annex B      Not required
Red footed tortoise    
Geochelone carbonaria  Annex B      Not required

Annexe A Tortoises requiring CITES paperwork (Article 10)
Galapagos Giant Tortoise              (Geochelone nigra)
Radiated tortoise                            (Geochelone radiata)
Angonoka                                       (Geochelone yniphora)
Bolson tortoise                                (Gopherus flavomarginatus)
Berger’s cape tortoise                     (Homopus bergeri)
Pancake tortoise                             (Malacochersus tornieri)
Geometric tortoise                           (Psammobates geometricus)
Madagascar flat-shelled tortoise     (Pyxis planicauda)
Spur-thighed tortoise                       (Testudo graeca)
Madagascar spider tortoise             (Pyxis arachnoides)
Hermann’s tortoise                          (Testudo hermanni)
Egyptian tortoise                             (Testudo kleinmanni)
Marginated tortoise                         (Testudo marginata)
Negev tortoise                                 (Testudo wernei)


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