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A gopher tortoise has been found with pink painted nails and shell

The Owl's Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife posted to Facebook alerting people that they had rescued a painted Gopher Tortoise. The tortoise is an threatened species in Florida and was found with painted nails and a portion of its shell.
The Owl's Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife posted to Facebook alerting people that they had rescued a painted Gopher Tortoise. The tortoise is an threatened species in Florida and was found with painted nails and a portion of its shell.
Published Sep. 18, 2018

Photos once again are surfacing again on social media after someone painted a gopher tortoise.

In a post on its Facebook page, the non-profit Owl's Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife in Odessa showed photos of a rescued female tortoise -- which is a threatened species -- with its nails and shell painted pink.

It is illegal to pick up, disturb or harm a threatened species in the state of Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Kris Porter, founder of the non-profit and former zoologist for Busch Gardens, said the organization has rescued five turtles since the beginning of this year, and they were alerted to this incident after someone reported seeing the tortoise in their yard. The female tortoise had its front nails painted with pink nail polish and the polish was spread on its shell, surrounding a previous injury.

"[The paint] is devastating to the animal because its shell is a breathing element to them," Porter said. "It's like a fingernail. When you cover it with paint, depending on what they use, it can be very toxic to the animal. It can be very detrimental."

Porter began the Owl's Nest Sanctuary five years ago with a vision to rehabilitate Florida wildlife around Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Porter said most of the polish came off overnight as she scrubbed the tortoise, but the animal was still largely inconvenienced from the experience.

This is not the first time an endangered species has been found painted. In April, another gopher tortoise was found covered in concrete and painted red south of Monteverde in Lake County.

In August a white heron was found painted blue near Indian Rocks Beach.

Contact Devin Rodriguez at drodriguez@tampabay.com or Follow @devinreports on Twitter