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Turtle and Tortoise Newsletter, 2000, 4:8-13
© 2000 by Chelonian Research Foundation

Turtle and Tortoise Newsletter

United States Import and Export of Live Turtles and Tortoises

Teresa M. Telecky
The Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L St. NW, Washington DC 20037 USA
Email: ttelecky@hsus.org

Reptiles are becoming increasingly popular as pets in the United States. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) commissioned a study to review available information on this largely unstudied, but increasingly significant, segment of the pet industry in order to assess its implications for the humane treatment of reptiles that are traded and kept as pets, the conservation of reptile populations in the wild, and the health of humans, wildlife and agricultural animals. The resulting report, entitled Reptiles as Pets: An Examination of the Trade in Live Reptiles in the United States, is currently in press. The report presents the results of an analysis of live reptile import and export data, from 1989 through 1997, which were obtained from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Law Enforcement Management Information System (LEMIS). This paper provides the results of this analysis as it pertains to turtles and tortoises.

More than 18.3 million live reptiles, representing over 600 different taxa, were imported to the United States from 1989 through 1997. This included more than 5.7 million turtles and tortoises representing 142 taxa (Table 1 and 3). Turtles and tortoises are the most popular type of reptile kept as pets in the United States (APPMA 2001). About 9 million reptiles were kept as pets in the United States in 2000, a more than 10% increase since 1998 (ibid). The number of households with pet reptiles rose by 44% during the same period (ibid).


Scientific Name 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 Total
Acanthochelys macrocephala (Big head Pantanel turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 150 150
Amyda species (Asiatic softshell turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 223 31 254
Annamemys annamensis (Anam leaf turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 3 3
Apalone (Trionyx) ferox (Florida softshell turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 42,101 42,101
Callagur borneoensis (Painted terrapin) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 15 12 27
Caretta caretta (Loggerhead sea turtle) 15 -- 41 1 -- -- 20 15 -- 92
Carettochelys insculpta (Pig-nosed turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- 1
Chelodina sp. (Snake & side-necked turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 6 24 30
C. novaeguineae (New Guinea snake-necked turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 9 -- -- 9
C. reimanni (Reimann’s snake-necked turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 6 6
C. siebenrocki (Siebenrock’s side-necked turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 19 11 35 65
Chelonia mydas (Green sea turtle) 869 68 45 417 69 -- 1 -- 4 1,473
Cheloniidae (Hard shelled sea turtles) 798 2,473 1,838 2,455 2,649 381 -- 1 1 10,596
Chelus fimbriatus (Matamata) -- -- -- -- -- -- 10 10 23 43
Chelydra serpentina (American snapping turtle) -- -- 122 493 1,600 235 -- -- 7 2,457
Chersina angulata (S. African bowsprit tortoise) 22 72 4 114 121 7 9 14 5 368
Chinemys reevesii (Chinese 3-keeled pond turtle) -- -- -- -- -- 162 31 18 18 229
Chrysemys species (Painted turtles) 1,209 1,673 8,515 12,659 11,906 2,389 320 -- 3,040 41,711
Chrysemys picta (Painted turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 1
Cistoclemmys species (Southeast Asian box turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 257 10 267
Clemmys species (North American turtles) 389 220 648 590 201 162 68 315 301 2,894
Clemmys guttata (Spotted turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 4 4
Clemmys insculpta (Wood turtle) -- -- -- -- -- 3 -- -- -- 3
Cuora species (Asian box turtles) 1,441 1,119 3,763 8,509 13,334 6,448 1,855 631 347 37,447
C. amboinensis (Malayan box turtle) -- -- -- -- 164 3,739 5,597 2,591 5,768 17,859
C. flavomarginata (Yellow marginated turtle) -- -- -- 143 11 309 1,071 356 272 2,162
C. galbinifrons (Indochinese box turtle) -- -- -- -- 32 282 471 474 912 2,171
C. mccordi (McCord’s box turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 4 4
C. pani (Pan’s box turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 19 19
C. trifasciata (Chinese 3-striped box turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 10 -- 13 23
C. zhoui (Zhou’s box turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 2
Cyclemys species (Leaf turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 50 76 456 582
Cyclemys dentata (Asian leaf turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 101 380 1,067 1,548
Deirochelys reticularia (Chicken turtle) -- -- 3 12 7 -- -- -- -- 22
Dermatemys mawii (Central Amer. river turtle) -- -- -- -- 3 -- -- -- -- 3
Dermochelys coriacea (Leatherback sea turtle) 118 138 10 -- 6 -- -- -- -- 272
Elseya species (Australia/New Guinea snapping turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 11 37 48
Emydoidea blandingii (Blanding's turtle) 2 17 -- 12 2 -- -- -- 1 34
Emydura species (Short-necked side-necked turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 14 14
E. albertisii (Red-bellied short-necked turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 35 96 132
Emys orbicularis (European pond turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 257 257
Eretmochelys imbricata (Hawksbill sea turtle) -- 20 56 93 6 -- -- 3 -- 178
Geochelone species (Land tortoises) -- -- -- -- -- -- 70 -- 29 99
G. carbonaria (S. American red-footed tortoise) 315 298 1,462 604 302 243 150 730 979 5,083
G. chilensis (Chaco tortoise) 705 6 5 -- 1 8 -- 1 3 729
G. denticulata (S. American yellow-footed tortoise) 363 375 424 588 351 266 143 96 377 2,983
G. elegans (Indian star tortoise) 4 -- 38 187 525 9 -- 4 164 931
G. elephantopus (Galapagos tortoise) -- 1 -- 1 -- 1 -- -- -- 3
G. gigantea (Aldabra tortoise) -- 10 18 10 1 10 -- 13 -- 62
G. nigrita (Indefatigable tortoise) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 36 36
G. pardalis (Leopard tortoise) 877 1,329 4,336 1,029 314 682 246 424 2,536 11,773
G. radiata (Radiated tortoise) -- -- -- 3 -- -- -- 1 -- 4
G. sulcata (African spurred tortoise) 37 143 232 12 295 521 1,007 235 500 2,982
G. yniphora (Northern Madagascar spur tortoise) -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- 1
Geoemyda species (Asian leaf turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 183 61 244
Geoemyda spengleri (Black breasted leaf turtle) -- -- -- -- -- 120 392 463 355 1,330
Gopherus agassizii (Desert tortoise) -- -- 2 -- -- -- -- 6 12 20
Gopherus polyphemus (Gopher tortoise) -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- 1
Graptemys species (Map turtles) 1,552 2,429 4,590 5,170 4,685 440 1 -- 10,290 29,157
G. kohnii (Mississippi map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 483 483
G. oculifera (Ringed map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- 1
G. pseudogeographica (False map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 100 100
G. versa (Texas map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 30 30
Heosemys species (Asian forest and pond turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 26 57 315 398
H. spinosa (Spiny turtle) -- -- -- 25 2 77 127 90 52 373
Hieremys species (Temple turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 4 6 17 27
Homopus areolatus (Beaked cape tortoise) -- 20 6 34 51 4 1 2 6 124
Homopus femoralis (Karroo cape tortoise) -- -- -- 2 -- -- -- -- 5 7
Homopus signatus (Speckled cape tortoise) -- -- -- -- 18 -- -- -- -- 18
Hydromedusa species (S. American snake-necked turtles) 56 197 74 -- 150 -- 32 -- -- 509
Indotestudo elongata (Elongated tortoise) 47 191 25 252 42 50 55 18 14 694
Indotestudo forsteni (Travancore tortoise) 80 62 -- 21 60 114 -- 7 32 376
Kachuga tecta (Indian roofed turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 2
Kinixys species (Hinge-back tortoises) -- -- -- -- -- 9 -- -- 2 11
K. belliana (Bell's hinge-backed tortoise) 9,814 1,234 917 2,028 1,938 2,540 1,545 865 3,255 24,136
K. erosa (Serrated hinge-back tortoise) 167 577 190 617 86 119 35 109 4 1,904
K. homeana (Home's hinge-backed tortoise) 989 1,830 1,356 1,498 2,060 2,376 1,026 346 1,728 13,209
K. natalensis (Natal hinge-backed tortoise) -- -- -- -- -- 50 -- -- 10 60
Kinosternon species (Mud turtles) 844 118 440 668 1,013 416 178 40 288 4,005
Kinosternon angustipons (Narrow-bridged mud turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 127 127
Lepidochelys kempii (Kemp's ridley sea turtle) 19 -- -- -- 13 -- 180 -- 180 392
Lepidochelys olivacea (Olive ridley sea turtle) 25 223 -- -- 40 -- -- -- -- 288
Lissemys punctata (Indian flapshell turtle) -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- 50 -- 52
Macroclemys temminckii (Alligator snapping turtle) 13 607 1,683 299 1,191 201 -- -- 150 4,144
Malaclemys species (Diamondback terrapins) -- -- 126 -- 283 63 -- -- 71 543
Malacochersus tornieri (Pancake tortoise) 385 369 5,168 605 -- -- 100 -- 21 6,648
Malayemys subtrijuga (Malayan freshwater snail-eating ) -- -- -- -- -- -- 4 24 97 125
Manouria emys (Asian brown tortoise) 41 39 221 17 68 68 776 41 92 1,363
Manouria impressa (Impressed tortoise) 19 -- -- -- 50 10 152 48 191 470
Mauremys species (Turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 3 11 173 187
Melanochelys tricarinata (Tricarinate hill turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 18 19
Morenia petersi (Indian eyed turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 265 265
Notochelys platynota (Malayan flat-shelled turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 9 23 32
Pelomedusa subrufa (African helmeted turtle) 714 560 382 1,370 1,248 680 454 785 1,900 8,093
Pelusios species (African mud turtles) -- -- -- -- -- 332 77 265 54 728
P. adansonii (Adanson's mud turtle) -- 200 -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- 202
P. castaneus (W. African mud turtle) -- -- 115 2 -- -- -- 10 -- 127
P. gabonensis (African forest turtle) -- -- 1 14 20 20 100 112 340 607
P. niger (W. African black forest turtle) 563 837 613 731 284 283 156 144 225 3,836
Phrynops species (S. American freshwater turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 13 15 98 126
Platemys species (S. American freshwater turtles) 50 34 203 139 198 69 32 -- 25 750
Platysternon megacephalum (Big-headed turtle) -- -- -- -- -- 80 424 705 66 1,275
Podocnemis erythrocephala (Red-headed amazon river) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 10 10
Podocnemis expansa (Giant S. American river turtle) 6 -- 13 -- -- -- -- -- 43 62
Podocnemis lewyana (Magdalena river turtle) -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1
Podocnemis sextuberculata (6-tubercled amazon river turtle) -- -- 6 -- -- -- -- -- -- 6
Podocnemis unifilis (Yellow-spotted amazon river turtle) -- 2 2 -- 1 -- -- -- -- 5
Psammobates species (S. African tortoises) -- -- -- -- -- 15 -- -- -- 15
P. geometricus (Geometric tortoise) -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1
P. oculifera (African serrated star tortoise) -- 1 -- 4 2 5 -- -- -- 12
P. tentorius (African tent tortoise) -- -- 3 1 3 11 -- -- -- 18
Pseudemys species (Basking turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 30 30
P. concinna (River cooter) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 765 767
P. nelsoni (Florida red-bellied turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 100 100
Pyxidea mouhotii (Keeled box turtle) -- -- -- -- 32 78 350 135 532 1,127
Pyxis species (Malagasy spider tortoises) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 14 14
P. arachnoides (Malagasy spider tortoises) -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- 2 -- 3
P. planicauda (Madagascar flat-shelled) -- -- -- -- 8 -- 5 -- -- 13
Rhinoclemmys species (Amer. turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 35 87 1,024 1,146
Sacalia species (Asiatic turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 168 168
Siebenrockiella crassicollis (Black marsh) 121 35 40 35 251 270 265 211 558 1,786
Staurotypus salvinii (Chiapas giant musk) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 5 6
Staurotypus triporcatus (Mexican giant musk) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 100 102
Sternotherus species (Musk turtles) 125 99 684 426 2,360 197 -- 1 -- 3,892
S. depressus (Flattened musk turtle) -- -- -- -- 100 -- -- -- -- 100
Terrapene carolina (Common box turtle) 104 436 2,673 4,976 5,580 165 1 -- 1 13,936
Terrapene coahuila (Coahuilan box turtle) -- -- -- -- 25 -- -- -- -- 25
Terrapene ornata (Ornate box turtle) -- -- 50 933 2,062 396 -- -- 2 3,443
Testudines (All turtles & tortoises) 22 624 1,041 518 736 -- 1 -- 12 2,954
Testudinidae (Land tortoises) 6 -- -- -- 522 1,103 -- -- 1 1,632
Testudo species (Land tortoises) -- -- -- -- -- 419 132 22 30 603
T. graeca (Spur-thighed tortoise) 856 1,510 765 1,553 3,647 3,309 2,754 363 3 14,760
T. hermanni (Hermann's tortoise) 750 14 34 184 299 56 4,004 9 4 5,354
T. horsfieldi (Central Asian tortoise) 16 10,016 -- 2,983 5,435 11,301 5,204 310 7,868 43,133
T. kleinmanni (Egyptian tortoise) 27 11 165 300 20 1,898 754 -- -- 3,175
T. marginata (Marginated tortoise) 34 10 21 21 -- 9 -- -- -- 95
Trachemys species (Slider turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 6 35 -- 41
T. scripta elegans (Red-eared slider) 733,213 943,515 877,221 1,005,301 1,401,583 125,268 47 55 165,970 5,252,173
T. scripta callirostris (S. Amer. red-lined) -- -- -- 35,000 978 1 -- -- -- 35,979
Trionyx species (Softshell turtles) 335 1,924 7,716 231 3,429 284 10,438 3 14 24,374
T. sinensis (Chinese softshell turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 10 10
T. triunguis (African softshell turtle) 1 10 3 6 -- -- 10 6 -- 36

In 1997 alone, more than 1.7 million reptiles were imported. This included over 258,000 turtles and tortoises. In 1997 lizards were the most commonly imported reptiles (70.0%), followed by snakes (12.8%), turtles (15.0%), and crocodilians (1.1%). Some of the most frequently imported reptiles were the common green iguana (Iguana iguana) from Colombia and El Salvador, geckos (Hemidactylus spp.) from Thailand and Vietnam, the ball python (Python regius) from Benin and Togo, the water dragon (Physignathus concincinus) from Vietnam, the boa constrictor (Boa constrictor) from Colombia and Nicaragua, oriental racer lizards (Takydromus spp.) from China and Indonesia, and spiny lizards (Sceloporus spp.) from Nicaragua and Guatemala.

Some of the most frequently imported turtle and tortoises in 1997 included the indigenous red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), map turtles (Graptemys spp.) and painted turtles (Chrysemys spp.). These animals were contained in shipments returned to the United States after being exported and rejected by an importing country. The most commonly imported non-indigenous species of turtles and tortoises imported included the central Asian tortoise (Testudo horsfieldi), Malayan box turtle (Cuora amboinensis), Bells’ hinge-back tortoise (Kinixys belliana), leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis), African helmeted turtle (Pelomedusa subrufa), and Home’s hinge-backed tortoise (Kinixys homeana).

In 1997 most live reptiles were imported through the ports of Miami, Florida, or Los Angeles, California, which were also home to the largest reptile importers, including L.A. Reptiles, Strictly Reptiles, and California Zoological Supply. According to the importers, the value of the live reptiles they imported in 1997 was more than $6.5 million, but this is a fraction of the retail value of the reptiles they imported. Based on information from the APPMA survey (2001), the HSUS estimates that the retail value of the trade in live reptiles and amphibians and related products in the U.S. is worth about $2 million annually.

More than 57.8 million reptiles, representing over 570 taxa, were exported from the United States between 1989 through 1997. This included over 53.7 million turtles and tortoises representing 115 taxa (Table 2 and 3).


Name 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 Total
Annamemys annamensis (Anam leaf turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 6 6
Apalone species (Softshell turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 7,368 4,543 5,487 17,398
A. (Trionyx) ferox (Florida softshell turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 1,900 1,877 7,781 11,558
A. mutica (Smooth softshell turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 5,187 200 5,387
A. spinifera (Spiny softshell turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 702 2,874 1,485 5,061
Carettochelys insculpta (Pig-nosed turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 2
Chelodina species (Snake & side-necked turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 60 10 70
C. longicollis (Common snake-necked turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- 1
C. novaeguineae (New Guinea snake-necked) -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- -- 2
C. siebenrocki (Siebenrock’s side-necked turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 13 4 18
C. steindachneri (Steindachner’s side-necked) -- -- -- -- -- -- 41 -- -- 41
Chelonia mydas (Green sea turtle) 10 -- -- 5 4 6 -- 1 12 38
Cheloniidae (Hard shelled sea turtles) -- -- -- -- 1,500 52 -- -- -- 1,552
Chelus fimbriatus (Matamata) -- -- -- -- -- 16 12 123 126 277
Chelydra serpentina (American snapping turtle) -- 23 660 5,149 9,254 18,422 31,563 18,668 17,730 101,469
Chersina angulata (S. African bowsprit tortoise) -- 10 5 13 7 20 -- -- 8 63
Chinemys reevesii (Chinese 3-keeled pond turtle) -- -- -- -- -- 39 10 11 -- 60
Chrysemys species (Painted turtles) 480 7,381 16,376 61,986 78,787 73,076 154,934 60,094 6,136 459,250
Chrysemys picta (Painted turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 3,750 26,434 24,546 54,730
Cistoclemmys species (Southeast Asian box turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 5 49 16 70
Clemmys species (North American turtles) 57 107 456 1,019 771 362 5,022 6,014 10 13,818
C. guttata (Spotted turtle) -- -- -- -- 3 284 259 131 553 1,230
C. insculpta (Wood turtle) -- -- -- -- -- 7 1 -- 18 26
C. marmorata (Pacific Pond turtle) -- -- -- -- -- 3 420 18 -- 441
Cuora species (Asian box turtles) -- 8 283 820 577 400 102 33 -- 2,223
C. amboinensis (Malayan box turtle) -- -- -- -- 42 233 426 85 60 846
C. flavomarginata (Yellow marginated turtle) -- -- -- -- 156 47 22 102 -- 327
C. galbinifrons (Indochinese box turtle) -- -- -- -- 10 36 26 21 18 111
Cyclemys species (Leaf turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 4 2 1 7
C. dentata (Asian leaf turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 34 45 28 107
Deirochelys reticularia (Chicken turtle) -- 1 19 58 307 22 95 28 51 581
Elseya species (Australia/New Guinea snapping turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 5 5
Emydoidea blandingii (Blanding's turtle) 4 41 4 9 92 19 27 40 93 329
Emydura species (Short-necked side-necked turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 10 106 116
E. albertisii (Red-bellied short-necked turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- 2
E. macquarrii (Murray river turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 20 6 -- 26
Emys orbicularis (European pond turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 5 20 25
Geochelone species (Land tortoises) -- -- -- -- -- 2 120 14 20 156
G. carbonaria (S. American red-footed tortoise) 12 18 268 48 49 119 300 760 323 1,897
G. chilensis (Chaco tortoise) 30 -- -- -- -- -- 32 -- -- 62
G. denticulata (S. American yellow-footed) 10 28 46 57 34 104 268 129 69 745
G. elegans (Indian star tortoise) -- 1 1 3 -- -- 6 -- 2 13
G. elephantopus (Galapagos tortoise) 1 -- -- 2 -- 2 -- -- -- 5
G. gigantea (Aldabra tortoise) 2 -- 1 -- -- 2 27 27 11 70
G. nigrita (Indefatigable tortoise) -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- 2 4
G. pardalis (Leopard tortoise) 4 356 273 310 73 671 547 1,110 1,246 4,590
G. sulcata (African spurred tortoise) 6 12 61 120 807 1,016 2,071 3,506 3,746 11,345
Geoemyda species (Asian leaf turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 20 -- -- 20
G. spengleri (Black breasted leaf turtle) -- -- -- -- -- 6 48 81 5 140
Gopherus berlandieri (Texas tortoise) 8 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 8
Gopherus polyphemus (Gopher tortoise) -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- 1
Graptemys species (Map turtles) 673 4,573 8,695 20,378 37,233 56,749 46,429 61,023 53,105 288,858
G. barbouri (Barbour's map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 142 747 889
G. caglei (Cagle’s map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 31 31
G. flavimaculata (Yellow-blotched map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 50 -- 50
G. geographica (common map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 16,447 16,447
G. kohnii (Mississippi map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 14,192 19,687 27,153 61,032
G. nigrinoda (Black-nobbed map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 318 824 3,463 4,605
G. ouachitensis (Ouachita map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 88 88
G. pseudogeographica (False map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2,729 2,729
G. versa (Texas map turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 98 98
Heosemys species (Asian forest & pond turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 10 19 29
H. spinosa (Spiny turtle) -- -- -- -- 2 2 44 2 5 55
Hieremys species (Temple turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 12 -- -- 12
Homopus femoralis (Karroo cape tortoise) -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- 1
Hydromedusa species (S. Amer. snake-necked turtle) 4 -- 9 11 56 -- 15 -- 3 98
Indotestudo elongata (Elongated tortoise) 6 -- -- 1 -- -- 6 -- -- 13
Indotestudo forsteni (Travancore tortoise) -- -- -- -- 4 5 -- 15 3 27
Kinixys species (Hinge-back tortoises) -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- 8 -- 10
K. belliana (Bell's hinge-backed tortoise) 6 13 73 84 36 151 44 21 158 586
K. erosa (Serrated hinge-back tortoise) 3 11 -- 4 -- -- -- -- -- 18
K. homeana (Home's hinge-backed tortoise) -- 10 4 35 80 111 55 15 37 347
Kinosternon species (Mud turtles) 258 397 3,132 2,014 1,372 2,663 3,270 1,647 2,294 17,047
K. angustipons (Narrow-bridged mud turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 3 3
K. oaxacae (Oaxaca mud turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 5 5
Lissemys punctata (Indian flapshell turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 20 -- 20
Macroclemys temminckii (Alligator snapping turtle) 290 382 1,761 2,039 2,101 4,477 2,138 11,331 11,763 36,282
Malaclemys species (Diamondback terrapins) -- 5 41 102 508 1,089 1,420 392 445 4,002
Malacochersus tornieri (Pancake tortoise) 6 -- 242 145 297 -- 6 5 4 705
Manouria emys (Asian brown tortoise) 1 -- -- -- -- -- 3 1 29 34
Manouria impressa (Impressed tortoise) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 43 43
Mauremys species (Turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 4 13 17 34
Pelomedusa subrufa (African helmeted) 36 20 -- 252 50 3 51 -- 20 432
Pelusios species (African mud turtles) -- -- -- -- -- 10 -- -- -- 10
P. niger (W. African black forest turtle) -- 20 -- -- 12 8 -- 20 -- 60
Phrynops species (S. American freshwater) -- -- -- -- -- -- 42 73 40 155
Phrynops hogei (Hoge’s side-necked turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 -- -- 1
Platemys species (S. Amer. Freshwater turtle) -- -- 16 6 56 97 38 19 28 260
Platysternon megacephalum (Big-headed turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 78 43 -- 121
Podocnemis unifilis (Yellow-spotted Amaz. river) -- 6 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 6
Pseudemys species (Basking turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 2,409 14,368 33,899 50,676
P. alabamensis (Alabama red-bellied turtle) -- -- 5 -- 20 -- -- -- -- 25
P. concinna (River cooter) -- -- -- -- -- -- 6,110 19,289 25,023 50,422
P. floridana (Common cooter) -- -- -- -- -- -- 3,192 6,741 2,929 12,862
P. nelsoni (Florida red-bellied turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 16,648 17,111 12,215 45,974
P. rubriventris bangsi (Amer. red-bellied) -- -- -- 263 -- -- -- -- -- 263
Pyxidea mouhotii (Keeled box turtle) -- -- -- -- -- 11 25 12 17 65
Pyxis species (Malagasy spider tortoises) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 20 20
Rhinoclemmys species (American turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 112 105 800 1,017
Siebenrockiella crassicollis (Black marsh) -- -- -- 5 49 2 -- 12 16 84
Staurotypus salvinii (Chiapas giant musk) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 2 10 12
Staurotypus triporcatus (Mexican giant musk) -- -- -- -- -- -- 3 28 25 56
Sternotherus species (Musk turtles) 211 1,861 2,720 7,361 7,923 8,826 6,545 5,759 7,643 48,849
S. depressus (Flattened musk turtle) -- -- 146 20 25 -- -- -- 24 215
S. odoratus (Common musk turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 163 1,705 4,370 6,238
Terrapene species (Box turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 500 -- -- 500
T. carolina (Common box turtle) 588 2,621 6,594 21,717 18,919 22,209 6,173 301 -- 79,122
T. carolina carolina (Eastern box turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 1 1
T. carolina major (Gulf coast box turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- 200 -- -- 200
T. ornata (Ornate box turtle) -- -- 238 5,920 8,138 12,240 60 -- 2 26,598
Testudines (All turtles & tortoises) 9,000 -- 578 -- 1,057 6 -- -- -- 10,641
Testudinidae (Land tortoises) -- -- -- -- 799 9 137 -- -- 945
Testudo species (Land tortoises) -- -- -- -- -- 7 -- -- 48 55
T. graeca (Spur-thighed tortoise) 24 61 -- 298 158 191 255 383 11 1,381
T. graeca graeca (Spur-thighed tortoise) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 10 10
T. hermanni (Hermann's tortoise) -- -- -- 3 27 -- -- 16 40 86
T. horsfieldi (Central Asian tortoise) -- 195 30 122 152 36 70 301 418 1,324
T. kleinmanni (Egyptian tortoise) -- -- -- -- -- 172 2 -- 2 176
T. marginata (Marginated tortoise) 12 -- -- -- 1 -- -- 2 -- 15
Trachemys species (Slider turtles) -- -- -- -- -- -- 3,893 3,030 1,379 8,302
T. scripta callirostris (S. Amer. red-lined) -- -- -- 5,000 5,803 1,264 27,300 17 21 39,405
T. scripta elegans (Red-eared slider) 3,472,886 3,423,776 6,318,367 3,308,678 5,516,973 8,298,236 4,658,413 8,416,672 8,708,388 52,122,389
T. stejnegeri (Central antelean slider) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 15 -- 15
Trionyx species (Softshell turtles) 508 8,680 2,508 5,517 13,524 34,467 29,996 12,120 4,439 111,759
T. sinensis (Chinese softshell turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 35 35
T. spiniferus (E. spiny softshell turtle) -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 202 202
T. triunguis (African softshell turtle) -- -- -- 6 -- 1 3 -- -- 10


IMPORTS 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 Total
Turtles and Tortoises 758,158 975,698 928,111 1,093,897 1,472,473 168,766 41,158 12,605 258,106 5,708,972
Lizards and Snakes 321,799 576,483 486,397 974,394 1,336,862 1,109,829 697,676 652,957 1,421,421 7,577,766
Crocodilians 2,645 2,064 371 4,138 12,082 6,766 3,163 11,150 17,153 59,532
Non-CITES Reptiles 1,009,622 1,588,982 779,891 781,613 467,032 217,506 122,453 39,453 19,571 5,026,123
Unknown Reptiles 1,879 649 2,215 9,333 104 536 297 -- 73 15,096
Grand Total 2,094,103 3,143,876 2,196,985 2,863,375 3,288,553 1,503,403 864,747 716,165 1,716,324 18,387,489
EXPORTS
Turtles and Tortoises 3,485,136 3,450,617 6,363,612 3,449,580 5,707,849 8,538,011 5,040,563 8,725,453 8,990,699 53,751,521
Lizards and Snakes 22,805 43,235 81,098 110,662 156,611 278,516 368,198 296,918 266,355 1,624,396
Crocodilians 724 1,340 49 3,981 7,745 1,913 5,346 31,621 20,209 72,928
Non-CITES Reptiles 734,361 434,547 364,065 390,624 99,348 110,150 161,623 104,023 27,921 2,426,662
Unknown Reptiles 3,480 655 836 781 3,277 557 -- -- 4 9,590
Grand Total 4,246,506 3,930,394 6,809,660 3,955,628 5,974,830 8,929,147 5,575,730 9,158,015 9,305,188 57,885,097

In 1997 alone, more than 9.3 million reptiles were exported. This included over 8.9 million turtles and tortoises. In 1997 turtles were the most commonly exported reptile (96.6 %), followed by lizards (2.4 %), snakes (0.5 %), and crocodilians (0.2 %). Some of the most commonly exported reptiles were the red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) (which made up the vast majority of exported reptiles), common green iguana (Iguana iguana), and Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis). The most commonly exported turtles included map turtles (Graptemys spp.), basking turtles (Pseudemys spp.), river cooter (Pseudemys concinna), Mississippi map turtle (Graptemys kohnii), painted turtle (Chrysemys picta), snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), Florida red-bellied turtle (Pseudemys nelsoni), and alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemys temminckii).

According to the exporters, the value of the live reptiles they exported was more than $12.5 million in 1997. In 1997 most live reptiles were exported through the port of New Orleans, Louisiana, which is home to many exporters of red-eared sliders. Most exported reptiles were destined for Asia (China, Hong Kong, and South Korea) .

Reptiles as Pets: An Examination of the Trade in Live Reptiles in the United States will be available from The HSUS this summer.

Literature Cited
American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Inc. 2001. APPMA National Pet Owners Survey. APPMA, Greenwich, Connecticut.


Data Source: HSUS analysis of Law Enforcement Management Information System (LEMIS) data obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It should be noted that previous studies have demonstrated that LEMIS data contain keystroke errors and LEMIS significantly under-reports actual import and export quantities.