Papers and provenances
When purchasing and importing and exporting Radiated Tortoises, look for the following paperwork and provenance:
Why photo documentation?
The law requires individual marking of Appendix AI reptile species for monitoring of keeping and trade. In general, for all Appendix AI tortoise species, from 500 gr, a marking with transponder is recommended. A complete photo documentation can replace this for Astrochelys radiata.
The identification with a microchip the size of a grain of rice is an extremely unpleasant procedure for turtles and is only technically feasible from a certain body size. With a life expectancy of over 100 years, it is also unclear how long a transponder will last under the skin. In the case of ray turtles, however, the identification of individuals on the basis of external characteristics, in particular the individual ray markings, is very well possible at any time, which is why a seamless photo documentation can replace a transponder identification.
Photo documentation is recommended at regular intervals for young animals up to 5 years 2x per year, for subadult animals 1x per year and for adult specimens every 5 years. The photo documentation is to be supplemented with the information of size, weight, sex and age, as well as a description of existing peculiarities. By special features are meant individual characteristics of an animal, such as scars, injuries or shield anomalies that will not change.
Two photos are to be taken per tortoise. Once with the view vertically from above on the dorsal shell and once vertically from below on the ventral shell. In order to better fix the turtle in the dorsal position for the photo, you can carefully position it on a rubber or metal ring of the appropriate size. To get a scale for the size of the animals, a lamminated A3 backing with black and white, 1 x 1 cm checks is suitable. Lamination protects the paper from spontaneous urination of the turtle or other contamination. For larger specimens, it is recommended to additionally place a 50 cm ruler next to the animal for the photo.
The quality of the photos (cropping, sharpness, illumination, etc.) is crucial for the acceptance and successful application of the material in practice. With the photos, at least in 9 x 13 cm format, and the individual information, a turtle passport can then be created. A complete, professionally prepared photo documentation is an essential and indispensable component for the issuance of an officially recognized certificate of origin.
FAQ on the topic of documentation
FAQ "...I live in Switzerland and am the owner of a Radiated Tortoise without official papers and proof of origin. I bought this animal a long time ago / inherited it / got it as a gift / took it with me on vacation. Today I know that this was unwise and a big, punishable mistake. Unfortunately, I now have to part with my Radiated Tortoise for private reasons. Can I apply for papers for this animal with the authorities afterwards?"
Attention: Radiated Tortoises without valid documents are and remain illegal! It is not possible to apply for papers for these animals at a later date. An illegal status does not expire either. It is strictly forbidden to trade these animals or to make a border crossing with them. In case of contravention there is the threat of confiscation and fines (an exception are ray-turtles, which were demonstrably imported into Switzerland before 1973, i.e. before the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species)! Ignorance and guileless intentions do not protect from penalties!
We suspect that currently a large number of undocumented ray turtles are living in Switzerland or are kept privately. Since no additional permit is required for the keeping of Astrochelys radiata and there is also no obligation to register, the official controls are largely limited to the trade and border crossing. Keeping a Radiated Tortoise without papers is in principle not a criminal offense within Switzerland, only in case of suspicion of abuse or other illegal activities, the authorities become active and also control private stocks. Because breeding with these animals is not allowed officially, they mostly remain genetically isolated and excluded from the conservation of the species. As long as no amnesty is provided for undocumented ray turtles, they simply remain blocked for life in Switzerland.
We are of the opinion that illegal and smuggled ray turtles cannot be held responsible for their status and are therefore all the more entitled to a species-appropriate home! Therefore, regardless of the status of your turtle, you are still responsible for optimal housing, husbandry and care. Should you for any reason no longer be able to care for your ray turtle, BEVET recommends that you also document animals without papers and place them within Switzerland with a placement contract. In the placement contract the illegal status of the animal is disclosed and all parties are informed about the circumstances of the origin and free release within Switzerland. It is important to note that these animals may not be traded in the future and may not cross the border! By documenting and signing the previous owner, a new ownership can at least prove that they cannot be held responsible for the origin, procurement and illegal status of the animal.
In case of uncertainty and further questions on the subject, please contact the Federal Veterinary Office in Bern directly. You will find the contact details under the heading Links on this homepage.