The Society of Protection of Animals in Bellinzona (SPAB) said high temperatures in the past few days had caused many tortoises to emerge from their underground lairs, putting them at risk when it turns colder.
The mercury rose to around 24 degrees in parts of Ticino on Saturday and reached 20 degrees on Sunday, marking a fourth consecutive day of spring-like conditions in the canton.
The warm weather has fooled many tortoises into thinking it is time to wake up and many have been observed in Ticino gardens, the SPAB indicated.
It issued a notice on its website warning owners to take measures to help the reptiles return to their hibernating state.
The society said the tortoises are “numb and struggling to regain a state of normal health”.
There is a risk they will die from the cold if they do not receive help digging them back into the ground, the SPAB said.
The society said it had received many calls from concerned tortoise owners.
MeteoSwiss, the national weather office, forecast high temperatures in Ticino of up to 17 degrees on Monday.
Cooler more seasonable weather is not expected in the region until the middle of the week, the office said.