Microchipping tortoises

Microchipping is an excellent way of identifying tortoises. All live Annexe A tortoises need to be microchipped to be able to be registered for a CITES specimen specific certificate which allows them to be sold. Any such tortoise over 6cm (plastron length) must be chipped to be legally sold OR DISPLAYED. ALWAYS CONSULT THE DEFRA WEBSITE (BELOW) FOR  UPDATES ON THIS.

The species currently under CITES appendix A are (but check with DEFRA yourself, this may go out of date):

Galapagos giant tortoise           Geochelone nigra or Geochelone elephantopus
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
Madagascar spider tortoise          Pyxis arachnoides
Spur-thighed tortoise                 Testudo graeca
Hermann's tortoise                    Testudo hermanni
Egyptian tortoise                       Testudo kleinmanni
Marginated tortoise                   Testudo marginata
Negev tortoise                           Testudo wernei

You do not need CITES paperwork to possess one of these but if you pass it to a sanctuary/zoo which is open to the public they will not be able to display it or put in perhaps with others on display unless you obtain this paperwork.

They can be microchipped very small

This tiny tortoise is being microchipped with an 8mm chip, thousands have been done perfectly safely. 

Yes it looks horrific but the bit of skin it goes through and the tissue the chip ends up in is the same size whatever the tortoise, its a 14G needle making a tiny 1.6mm hole, (the double bevel of a trovan needle cuts through the skin like a scalpel rather than piercing then stretching the skin and causing pain).

The hole is best closed with a drop of superglue, reptiles heal so slowly the chip can fall out!

The same position is used even on MUCH larger turtles! This was about 15 years ago and he is much bigger now!

Microchip size

There was concern from keepers using the regular 12mm size microchips in hatchlings with a 12G needle. Although most of the concern was theoretical rather than factually based.

A DEFRA report prior to the 8mm chips being widely available opted for Nonatec microchips which were only 6mm long and used a 1.2mm needle, these could only be read using their own brand scanner which was very costly and not widely available. Not a sensible solution for recovering tortoises. The Nonatec chips did not succeed. 

Thousands of recent hatchings have now been identified using standard ISO FDX-B 8mm microchips. This means that every scanner (now widespread and cheap) will read them, and using a good database (we recommend petlog) a stray tortoise can be easily identified and returned to its owners.

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