The Egyptian tortoise occurs in arid areas along the Mediterranean in Libya, Egypt and Israel. Habitat destruction is a major factor in its presumed extirpation from Egypt and its critical endangerment as a species. Its desirability in the international pet trade over the past 20 years due to its rarity and small size encourages poaching. The species is currently protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), making it illegal to sell, purchase and transport the animal without permits. Yet a quick internet search can lead prospective collectors to several sites where captive bred hatchlings of the tiny tortoise are sold for the hefty price tag of $1000 USD or more.