Fingerprinting your Tortoise & Security




Tortoise security is very important and does not just mean ensuring there is a lock on the tortoise shed.


Tortoise security is ensuring that you make sure that everything is done so that if you do lose your tortoise, for any reason, that if or when it is found you can prove that is it yours.


There are some very simple steps that can help to ensure that you have this proof.




Fingerprinting is all about making sure that if you lose your tortoise, you have ways to prove that it is yours if someone else finds it.


You may think that neighbours will return it to you anyway, but we have found that this does not always happen and can end up in the hands of the police.


  • Take photos of your tortoise in your garden, in the tortoise indoor area and the tortoise's outdoor area, in situ. This will help to prove that it is in your property.

  • Take photos of the carapace (top shell) side view and the plastron (bottom shell). The plastron acts as their fingerprint as no two tortoises have the same pattern.













  • Keep records of your tortoise's weights, plastron length and any distinguishing marks that it may have.

  • Keep all records safe and not in the shed with your tortoise. It has been known that thieves are realizing that they need the records as well and they will take them. Move them into the house in a safe place.



The above points will be very useful if you lose your tortoise.


Please remember that if you have a juvenile they will keep growing and the photos need to show this and also the records need to prove this.




Lost, Found or Stolen Tortoises


John Hayward is the co-ordinator for the National Theft Register for Exotic Species and the Security and Cites Advisor for BATK and other Organisations.


John also compiles the lost, found and stolen register nationwide and updates these on regular basis.


John is a past Detective Inspector and Wildlife Liaison Officer, which qualifies him for this position.

He works very hard and has very good results in finding lost or stolen tortoises or reuniting tortoises with their owners when they stray.

John has nationwide contacts and an excellent relationship with police forces, which helps him do this job. If you have lost, found or been offered a tortoise then please contact him.


John Hayward - 01869 325699    email: