By Staff

NOTE: Updated with comment from Friends of Texas Wildlife.

TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Friends of Texas Wildlife want people to know it is not ok to paint turtles with nail polish. They shared an image of a box turtle covered in pink and blue nail polish to illustrate their point.

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Nail polish is packed with chemicals like acetone, butyl acetate, and camphor, all of which are highly toxic. Since tortoises absorb things through their shells, they will absorb those chemicals, too. (credit: The Friends of Texas Wildlife)

“It is absolutely NOT safe to paint a tortoise’s shell as it poses many dangers and can ultimately be fatal,” the wildlife rescue group said on its Facebook page.

Volunteers were able to remove the many layers of polish, but not before it caused a lot of damage to the turtle’s shell. She was very dehydrated and is also very thin.

Although made of keratin like human fingernails, a tortoise shell allows chemicals to leach into the tortoise’s body. Many paints and nail polishes contain chemicals that are toxic. This can make a tortoise ill or even cause death. Paint or nail polish prevents tortoises and turtles from absorbing vitamins from the sun, and it also destroys their natural camouflage.

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The sad image of the turtle’s faded, chipped shell triggered a memory for one Facebook user, who said she recognized the turtle from 13 years ago. “I know because we were trying to do pink and blue stripes. I released her at my home in Lavaca, Arkansas! I’m sorry I didn’t mean to hurt her. I thought it was okay when I was 10,” she commented.

However, the Friends of Texas Wildlife responded by saying it could not possibly be the same turtle.

“They don’t roam that far and we’ve been in contact with the people who painted this one (which correlates exactly with where she was found),” the group said on Facebook.

The non-profit did add that they didn’t think whoever was responsible was intentionally cruel, but rather by someone who just didn’t know better. But they wanted to share the images and information as a potential teachable moment.

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They are treating the turtle with proper nutrition and some healing UV rays and are hopeful she will recover. Staff