October 2010 Editor's Note

Aquatic turtles are extremely popular reptile pets, and this issue features articles about both cooters and painted terrapins. Cooters are common aquatic turtles, but the painted terrapin is not.

When you read the article “Rare Beauty” and see the photos of the beautiful painted terrapin, you may want one. This is not unusual — when readers see cool animals in REPTILES, they often want to get a specimen for their own collections to keep as a pet, or perhaps to breed. Usually, I’m happy when this happens; other times, readers wanting an animal they have read about can be cause for concern.

Take the painted terrapin, for instance. As mentioned, after reading the article you may want one. The painted terrapin, however, is listed on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered. Wild populations of this species are suffering, due in large part to the Asian food trade. The IUCN listing does not mean you cannot legally purchase one. People (including the article’s author) do breed it, but if you plan to buy one, be sure that it is captive bred. Ask sellers where their painted terrapins originated. If you suspect they may be selling wild-caught specimens, don’t buy them, even if the price is hard to resist.

Overcome the urge to get an animal at all costs, especially if doing so can adversely affect troubled wild populations.

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