Captive bred vs. wild caught

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johanna

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I have been surprised at the amount of people here who have wild caught pancake tortoises. I was under the impression that wild caught is kind of a shady business and not for people who truly love tortoises. Through this forum I have been proved wrong. I am strongly against taking a happy, healthy animal out of the wild for some selfish human being who wants it. There are plenty of captive bred tortoises for sale. I have two very healthy captive bred pancakes who I was able to purchase very easily. I would like some opinions on this subject from other tortoise keepers as to why they chose wild caught over captive bred, or the other way around.
 

Neal

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My thoughts, we wouldn't have a hobby if our tortoises or the parents of our tortoises didn't come from somewhere in the wild. I think there is something good about wild specimens being placed in captivity, where they have great health and arguably a better life then they would have in the wild. Not just that, but those specimens are then used to produce captive bred offspring to decrease the demand on wild caught tortoises.

I do also think that wild populations should be well managed and protected to the extent that taking groups out of the wild will not affect the future survival of wild populations.
 

GBtortoises

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Captive born tortoises at some point have to come from wild caught tortoises. Chances are very good that your captive born Pancake tortoises either came directly from wild caught parents that are owned by a breeder or just as likely were "incidental" captive borns from freshly imported gravid females.

It would certainly be nice that if some day all tortoises came from captive born sources. With some species, such as Sulcata, that has already come true. Marginateds and the majority of Redfoots, Eastern Hermann's and Ibera Greeks available are also captive born. But most other species are not bred in large enough numbers in captivity to meet the demand. Some species, Pancakes being one of them, produce a low number of offspring annually which adds to the lack of captive born babies available compared to the demand for them. So at this point in time, the demand for most of the popular species far out numbers the supply of captive borns available. In addition to that some wild caught species are cheaper to purchase than their captive born counterparts due to the cost of producing and raising those captive borns. A breeder must properly maintain the adults in a manner that will encourage them to breed and produce fertile eggs. The eggs must then be incubated, some for several months, then once the babies hatch they have to be properly cared for until they are sold. Keep in mind that many tortoises are seasonal breeders. Unlike chickens that will lay an egg a day for much of the year under the right conditions. Tortoises lay a few in a very short period during the whole year. Those adults must still be maintained properly throughout the entire year regardless of whether it's egg laying season or not. It all takes alot of time, money and effort. The result is that breeders often need to charge more to recoup some of those costs. It's cheaper to import wild caught tortoises with the end seller usually making a much larger (and easier) profit. Many people consider price when deciding what to buy too. Whether right or wrong, people still want all they can get for less. Unfortunately, sometimes, that ends up being a deciding factor for some people when deciding which to purchase, wild caught or captive born.

My own personal view is that I think everyone that enjoys tortoises should strive to breed them in captivity. I believe that since we have removed generations from the wild we have a responsibility to those remaining wild populations to preserve them as best as we can through conservation and captive breeding. I would love to one day see only captive born tortoises available of all species. But in all honesty I think that we are still a long, long way from that.
 

dmmj

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Sort of a side note, but wouldn't CB populations need a infusion of WC DNA every so often?
 

Neal

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dmmj said:
Sort of a side note, but wouldn't CB populations need a infusion of WC DNA every so often?

Good point!
 

johanna

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I agree that the demand is likely higher than the supply. I think once the demand and supply are at the same level, or there are more tortoises than owners, the price goes down and they end up in the wrong hands. I really think there needs to be more demand than supply. This keeps serious people in the hobby and keeps people who want a tortoise just to have one from getting one. I agree that for serious breeders it makes sense to get a wild caught one once in a while to get more dna. I'm specifically talking about importing them just to sell to the average guy and make a buck. I do not agree with this.
Neal: I do not fully agree with your comment about them having a better and healthier life in captivity. It think on this forum we have a skewed view of the reality of the pet trade. We come on here and talk to people who are serious about tortoise care. We talk to people who want to learn about tortoise care and breeding. We surround ourselves with people who are in the hobby of tortoise husbandry. This is not the whole picture. I worked in a pet store for 5 years. I saw people everyday buying reptiles, tortoises, snakes, fish, etc and just killing them due to lack of knowledge of their care. The majority of people I talked to didnt even care about the welfare of their animals. They just wanted them and they wanted them as cheaply as possible. The lower the price the worse care that animal is going to get, such as the case of turtles. They are cheap, but require a lot care. I saw people bring in animals all the time who didnt want them anymore. They were in too small of cages with no heat, being fed a poor diet, and dying of MBD. If you keep the supply low and the price high you keep those animals in hands of serious hobbyists who are going to give them the lives they deserve.
 

Turtle Guru

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My feeling on taking them out of the wild is in the middle. The reason for that is because some my be in a bad habitat and they may can't survive so then I see taking them out, other people may disagree but i rather see a turtle live then die if you know what i mean.NOW if they are healthy happy and have plenty to eat then leave them in the wild because they don't need human help if they are alive and kicking it, then it's wrong to take them whenever you want in the wild for your own pleasure because of my reasons above. So those are my thought about captive bred and captive wild turtles and tortoises.
 
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Claireabbo

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well if there were captive bred torts then there would have to be wild caught somewhere up the line :) ya know?
 

dmmj

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Overall and this is just my opinion, tortoises and turtles in captivity are happier. yes they are kept in cages but they have access to food, no predators, they are cared for and looked after. Some do suffer horribly but why punish everyone for the bad apples.
 

EricIvins

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So who defines "The Average guy"?........After all, most "Average guys" are the ones who produce alot of Tortoises.......
 

Neal

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That's why I said their life in captivity is "arguably" better than their life in the wild. I can guarantee you that my tortoises have a much better life with me then if they lived in the wild...safe from predation, disease, elements, etc...however if they were with someone else who didn't really care much about their welfare, or neglected them...(maybe) their life would be "better" in the wild. So, not every case is better for a tortoise to be in captivity than in the wild. But...who can really say that tortoises in captivity are better off than tortoises in the wild, or vise versa for that matter. The tortoises can't tell us what they prefer.
 

chase thorn

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like what many say, in captivity, they're safer from predators, have food magically appear everyday, have access to water, if they are sick, they will not suffer with proper care. but i do wish wild caughts were treated better, and not smuggled and all that jazz. But, many wild caughts are better off living a better, happier life than they would in the wild... i honestly think tortoise of all kinds are more stressed in the wild than they are in captivity, due to the fact of always keeping clear of any danger of any kind. sure at first they are but wouldn't you be stressed if you got put somewhere new and had no idea what was going on? but after a while you would feel less stress on your new surroundings right? but what do i know? my torts cant talk. i have 1 wild caught and he does just as well as my two who are captive bred. all in all, if the WC tort is put into good hands, i have no problem with it as long as it does not get way out of control and the torts are put into to serious danger. most torts sold are pretty hardy animals and can survive and adapt to some change. i honestly feel like i did my little guy a favor by saving him from any future danger or being killed by someone or something. this may be off topic, but here is my 2 cents.

my opinions on the WC vs CB is about 50/50... i could just be blowing wind, but i am not a tortoise genius. i would PREFER a CB over a WC, but i still like caring for for them.

WC's get a bad rep i think, as if they are like a "low class tort"...i love all torts no matter what. they are and are a continuing passion of mine.

Thank You.
 

GBtortoises

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Whether wild caught tortoises are "happier" in captivity is probably very difficult to determine since we don't know what they're definition of happy may be. I don't believe that "happy" is an emotion that they experience. Maybe more appropriate would be are they "content"? Regardless of whether you think your tortoise is happy or content, I don't think it can be debated that they are definitely more safe and secure in captivity and with the proper care can very likely live longer in captivity than in the wild.

As far as the cost of the tortoise being relative to the quality of care that it will receive I don't very much that it has any bearing whatsoever. I know of a pet shop that specializes in reptiles, specifically tortoises and turtles here in the Northeast, I visit it often and have known the owner for over 20 years. He makes as much effort as possible to educate people but even he admits that it probably does little good most of the time. He is located in the suburbs of NYC where the cost of living is high, wages are high and people don't think twice about spending a few hundred dollars on a tortoise. They want what they want. Some people could care less, others are sincere and want to take of their tortoise correctly. It's really not how much you can afford to spend or not, it's how passionate you are about learning how to be sucessful at itt. Some people are, some aren't. That is everywhere, not just the tortoise hobby.
 

Kristina

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johanna said:
I have two very healthy captive bred pancakes who I was able to purchase very easily.

Did the parents of those captive bred individuals just magically appear in captivity? ;) No, they were most likely caught from the wild.

AS A WHOLE, I prefer captive breeding to purchasing wild caught animals. The majority of my tortoises are captive bred. But, for example, my Hingebacks are all wild caught. Why is that? Because in order to produce captive bred Hingebacks, somebody has to start breeding them. I am attempting to do just that.
 

Yvonne G

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And, adding to what Kristina has said...It sometimes takes quite a while for keepers to get the hang of it. When a type of tortoise is mostly wild caught with hardly any captive bred, that means that we haven't learned what it takes to get them to breed in captivity yet. As an example, I've been trying to raise Manouria for over 10 years with hardly any success. There are a few breeders of Manouria in the U.S. but not many.

The same holds true for the hingeback tortoises.

But once a few of us get the hang of it, more and more people will be able to breed them and then more captive bred will be available for purchasing.
 
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