Families shell out to make turtles household pets

By Sophie Ryan

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Red-eared turtles like this one were in hot demand before Christmas after being made famous in the Telecom ads featuring Tommy and his pet turtle Boris.Photo/File
Red-eared turtles like this one were in hot demand before Christmas after being made famous in the Telecom ads featuring Tommy and his pet turtle Boris.Photo/File

Northlanders after their own "Boris" were left disappointed when the red-eared turtle became the most popular pet for Christmas in Whangarei.

The Whangarei Pet and Aquarium Centre sold out of the $95 turtles, made famous by the Telecom ads featuring Tommy and his pet turtle Boris, in the lead up to Christmas, and won't be expecting any more until the end of January.

Pet shop owner Joy Moran said turtles are quickly becoming as common as cats, dogs, birds and goldfish as a household pet. "I don't think Telecom quite knew what they were doing when those ads came out," she said.

Plenty of people have been requesting their own "Boris" that their kids can play with.

"It's usually people with children of 10 years old and upwards, and people have mostly done a lot of research, I won't sell them to people who haven't done research," Ms Moran said.

The turtles only breed once a year so finding breeders to keep up with demand has been a challenge for the shop.

Turtles can live for 60 years, so in cases where owners can no longer care for them Ms Moran said the shop and the SPCA can work to re-home them.

"We mostly can find new homes for them."

On Thursday, Ms Moran was alerted to a turtle found on Ruakaka Beach. The woman whose father came across it decided to keep the older turtle and went to the pet shop to buy the necessary enclosure.

"When they're born they are the size of a 50 cent coin and once they're grown they are as big as a dinner plate."

- Northern Advocate

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