My tortoise escaped

Post your pictures and any questions here of European tortoises e.g. Ibera Spur Thigh, Ibera Graeca, Marginated, Hermanns, Kleinmanni and we include the Horsfield tortoise. Also, do add pictures of Mediterranean tortoises you have seen in the wild.
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Lucre
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My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 08 May 2020, 13:45

It has been 48 hours since Jeff is missing...

I tried everything. I don’t have a big garden, and I searched inch by inch every place that I thought he could fit.

I tried to look under his favourite bush of rosemary, under the ivy we grow, under the canary cage and under the storage space we keep our outdoor chairs and the gardening stuff.

Nothing.

I was quiet and I tried to listen for his steps but he is either asleep or not in that place.
We have fences, about 10 cm (4 inches kinda) that separate out garden from the neighbours one.

I left him two dishes of water and some tortoise pellets around the garden, I placed the mat I use for shelter for him... but he is nowhere to be seen...

Any suggestions? I want my Jieffy back 😞

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Nina
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Nina » 08 May 2020, 14:42

Hi Lucre,

I am so sorry to hear that Jeff has gone missing! It is something that happens frequently and they often turn up when you have given up all hope. Three weeks ago someone who owns a farm lost their tortoise and yesterday one of their pigs found it in some long grass near a tree, not far from where they last saw it. Tortoises are amazingly well camouflaged and often they can be two feet away from you and you can't see them.

Warm weather will usually bring them out, and in cool weather they often will dig into the ground and bury themselves, often at the foot of a bush or tree (and it is only by feeling the soil to see if it is a bit loose that you can tell if they have dug in there -- so do have a gentle dig around).

I would try leaving some 'naughty' food around the garden -- something Jeff could smell, like strawberries or tomatoes (they love both of those even though they shouldn't really have them).

The main thing to do is a fingertip search on your hands and knees of every centimetre of the garden. Do you have friends or family who could help you? Go methodically in a line feeling every bit of earth and under every plant with your fingers. That often turns them up.
Check not only under things like your storage space but inside them as well -- someone found their tortoise had somehow got into their shed when the door was open and buried deep behind tools and the lawn mower. If you have a pile of old leaves or branches or anything, see if he has buried into that.

Also you say there is a 10 cm fence separating you and your neighbours. Is that 10 cm high? A tortoise can easily climb over that, especially if there is a plant next to the fence that he can use as a ladder. Is the fence buried in the ground? If not then tortoises can easily dig down, under and out into the next garden, so do ask your neighbours to keep an eye out.

I'm sure you will find him, and don't give up. I know someone whose tortoise went missing one summer and after much searching they gave up, and then the following April there he was, standing in the middle of their garden covered in mud -- he had obviously escaped notice and then dug down into the earth and reappeared the next year when the weather got warmer.

Nina

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Lucre
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 08 May 2020, 14:56

Thanks Nina
The fact is a week ago we basically we sow our garden, we did a mess and every part of the garden is now loose soil so I should dig the whole garden before I could find any trace of his borrow. As you suggested, tomorrow morning I’ll put some tomatoes (I don’t have them now but I’ll buy some).

Do you have any suggestion on what time should be better for me to look for him? (7am-8am or earlier in the morning? And in the afternoon?)

Thanks Nina, helpful as always!

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Nina
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Nina » 08 May 2020, 16:28

Ah yes, a perfect paradise for a tortoise to dig in. However, you might be surprised and he might just be sheltering under some leaves or debris or almost anything on top of the soil and not underneath it. If you are planning on digging then you need to be so careful because if you use a little shovel or trowel you could damage him when you dig down. I doubt if he is more than a couple of centimetres below the surface. Hermanns aren't such deep diggers unless it is cold and they are hibernating. So just prod very gently into the soil, but before you do that, double check under leaves and in spaces like your storage area.

What about that 10 cm fence. Is there a space where he could have squeezed under it, or climbed over it? If the nights are still cold (and nights this weekend are going to be very cold in the UK, then he won't come out until the sun comes up and it gets warm. Not sure about time of day, but not really early because it will still be cool. From 7 or 8 a.m. onwards, if it is nice and warm. In the wild tortoises tend to come out in the mornings and have a run around and then ho into hiding for a nap at mid day, and then they come out again early evening -- 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. I don't know if Jeff will follow those rules though!

I had a look back at previous threads and had forgot how young and small he is. I'll be he is there somewhere and I think that tempting food and a fingertip search (check behind things like flowerpots, chairs, anything where he could squeeze behind and into a small place. Good luck!

Nina

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Lucre
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 09 May 2020, 21:52

Hey guys how is it going?

Jeff is nowhere to be seen, but today we put the tomatoes and the strawberries and some water dishes in case he was hungry or thirsty.

Today I placed a net 1x1 cm in the holes he could pass through... I hope that he did not find a way out before I put those... but I don’t think so, he usually slept the majority of the time when he was in his enclosure. I don’t see why he would have climbed the huge wall that separate our garden from the neighbour’s... he had his favourites spots in our garden...

But if he had find a way to them, I warned all the neighbours of my escaped pet and they told me they would keep an eye to their gardens.

I patted down the loose soil in my garden so that if I see a little mountain of loose soil again I know Jeff had been there.

I imagine that one day, maybe in a month or even more, when we will lose the hope of finding him, I would open the door to check my roses and I would find him roaming around like nothing happened. He would look at me saying “Oh, iu beck hooman? Fid me strauberries.”

I do hope I could find him.
I miss him 😞

I’ll keep you updated
Lucre

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Lucre
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 11 May 2020, 09:48

6th day since Jeff was missing...

Jeff is nowhere to be seen.
Today is cold, windy and rainy, so wherever he is, I don’t think he’s gonna show up...

I hope that tomorrow will be a better day to look for him.

I’ll keep you updated.

Lucre

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Nina
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Nina » 11 May 2020, 10:19

Thanks for keeping us updated, Lucre. Don't lose hope because they do very often turn up, and you are not alone. Have a look at this thread: http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/site ... =12&t=1957 The tortoise went missing on the 15th of April and was found (albeit with the help of a pig!), on 7th May, so Jeff could still turn up (although as you say, it won't be on a cold day).

Nina

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Lucre
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 11 May 2020, 20:54

Yes, I read that thread to look for hints on how to look for Jeff.

So as I said before, it has been 6 days since Jeff is missing.

Today I was planning to look for him, but there was a heavy rain, it started on 8 am and it is still going... today was cold (12-15 ºC) and windy so I believe Jeff is borrowed somewhere.

The soil was so wet that formed a little pond in the garden and I am so afraid that Jeff got trapped in his borrow and drowned... I know this is probably extreme but I’m so worried about him. One day he was in his private sheltered enclosure, with plenty of food and warmth and the day after he is on his own in the middle of a spring thunderstorm... poor little tortoise.

Today I read of a person that, as me, lost her tortoise for so long that she gave up on finding it.
One day she invited some friends to have a lunch together. They brought their dog too and they let him roam free in the garden. After just few minutes, the dog found the missing tortoise, can you believe that?

So, if I will ever lose hope on finding my Jeff, I know I can bring some dogs over and see what their nose can do. Sure enough, the dogs’ nose is way better that humans’ sight!

Thanks to all of you, I am glad you shared that link.

Lucre.

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Nina
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Nina » 12 May 2020, 16:06

I am so sad for you Lucre, and this must be absolutely devatating, but I'm so glad that you are not giving up. I don't think he will appear until we get some nice warm weather, as when it is cold they really don't have much energy to walk around.

The idea of dogs is a possibility, but you have to be super careful with dogs and tortoises, because a dog can cause terrible damage to a tortoise's shell if he views the little tortoise as a toy to play with. But it is possible that they might be able to track him down -- I don't know, but I hope so.

Thanks so much for keeping us posted on what is happening, and we are hoping with all of our will that little Jeff will turn up soon.

Nina

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Lucre
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 12 May 2020, 17:31

So today is the 7th day since Jeff disappeared.

This morning was cold, this afternoon warm but I don’t think warm enough. Right now is raining again so don’t think Jeff will show up.

This afternoon I tried to look into some bushes that are low on the ground. I don’t know what kind of bushes those are, but right under it there was some loose soil. I tried to dig around to see if Jeff was there (I was VERY careful, don’t worry). Jeff wasn’t there. I hope the loose soil was his. It could be borrowed even deeper, I was afraid to hurt him and I didn’t want to destroy the roots system. I’ll keep an eye on that soil though.

I’ll attack some pictures of the bush.
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You can see that under the yellow-brown leaves there is the loose soil

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Nina
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Nina » 12 May 2020, 19:33

I don't know what bush that is (maybe Lin will come on as she is good at IDs), but I wouldn't worry about disturbing the roots of the bush -- I would carefully remove all the soil in that little area and go as deep as you can (they can dig quite deep if it is cold -- maybe 8 or 10 inches, although probably less than that).

Obviously if the earth becomes hard and difficult to remove then he probably isn't there, but just in case, if it is fairly easy to remove I would go ahead and do it -- it might be your lucky day and if the bush suffers a bit then at least you might get Jeff back. They don't just dig straight down either -- they usually go down and then sometimes along a little bit -- so maybe dig straight down and then follow the soft earth in case it turns into a little tunnel.

Nina x

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Lucre
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 12 May 2020, 21:01

Tomorrow I’ll look better under that bush, but as I said today was fairly rainy and cold, so I didn’t dig too much...

I’ll write here what I discover from tomorrow recognition.

Jeff is being on a BIG adventure, I hope that he is ok...
He will have some stories to tell to their grand-baby-tortoises.

I’ll keep you updated.

Lucre

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Lucre
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 13 May 2020, 21:46

8th day since Jeff went missing.
Today was cold and rainy (again).

I didn’t even bothered to stay out too long, because I could see my breath when I tried to look for him under that bush.

Let’s see if tomorrow will be better and warmer...

Lucre

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Nina
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Nina » 13 May 2020, 23:08

We ‘re thinking of you, Lucre. Jeff will be nice and cozy underground somewhere, and as soon as the weather gets warmer he’ll come up and you will find him.

Nina

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Lucre
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 16 May 2020, 12:34

Hello everyone

Day 11 since Jeff went missing...

Today is a bit sunny... there are something like 20 ºC and I am still hoping I’ll find Jeff basking somewhere.

I took out my action cam (it’s like a GoPro but it’s not the same brand) and I shoot some videos in time laps to see if I can have something on tape, but for now no luck.

I am looking to the videos of this morning, I will put the cam out for the afternoon, hoping that the warmer climate encourages Jeff to come out from the burrow.

I hope that he is in that location, because otherwise I am filming for nothing. But in that spot I put some wild strawberries flowers and fruits so I hope he’ll go for that.

How long can tortoises stay in the borrow for without being hungry/thirsty? Because it has been almost four days of rain and cold weather, and I did not see any food that has we eaten yet.
I know they go in hibernation, do they use the same “technique”?

I’ll keep you updated.
Lucre

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Nina
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Nina » 17 May 2020, 09:13

Thanks for the update, Lucre, and that is a great idea to have your action cam monitoring the area. Wouldn't it be great if it picked Jeff up walking across the garden! As it gets warmer, I'm sure he will be more active and you will find him.

Tortoises can go for really long periods without food, and although they do need some water, he will no doubt have absorbed some because of the rain we had last week, and I think that from that respect he will be fine. I know that Jeff is only small, but if you were going to hibernate him you would have a period before hibernation where he had no food for at least two weeks (older/bigger tortoises must go without food for four weeks before hibernating), and that does them no harm at all.

I hope he shows himself soon. Did you ever dig in that area near the bush where the soil felt soft like it might have been disturbed?

Nina

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Lucre
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 17 May 2020, 09:53

Hi everyone,

No, I didn’t check it yet... it rained so heavily in these days that I didn’t want to go outside to have a shower!

In each case I wish I get something on tape. I thought it would be a great proof for me to see if Jeff is still in the garden. I believe he is, because he didn’t have enough time to walk all across the garden and sneak under the garden door.

He didn’t show any interest in that area anyway, but we made sure that now he cannot pass through any hole, so if he is in the garden, he now will remain here... unless he is a ninja tortoise.

I keep telling my neighbours to look for Jeff in their garden, just to be on the safe side.
I told them that dogs might find him before they do, and they seemed to be very understanding, telling me they will look if their dogs are holding something in their mouth every now and then.

With this being said, today won’t be very warm, so I do not expect my tortoise to wonder around. I will set the cam anyway, just to be sure, but I do not expect anything in particular.

Thanks for the support.
Lucre

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Nina
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Nina » 17 May 2020, 10:21

You're doing everything you can, Lucre, and we all have our fingers crossed hoping that Jeff turns up soon. Bring on that warmer weather!!

Nina xx

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Nina
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Nina » 22 May 2020, 11:52

Hi Lucre,
I hope you are having drier, warmer weather now -- any sign of him yet?

Nina

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Lucre
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 26 May 2020, 17:05

Hi Nina, hi everybody

No, I still can’t find him.
I have my hopes up but no signs whatsoever of him yet. I found other reptiles poops but they were from lizards, too many insects parts in it.

I check everyday on the sunny spots and I’m sure I will eventually find Jeff, soon or later.

I looked on the videos took with the camera but nothing moves. I tried to put boiled carrots in a small dish in front of the GoPro, but still nothing, the carrot dried up. This morning I put some fresh salad, water and some strawberries.

The water dish is empty almost everyday, but I saw sparrows, blackbirds and other animals drinking from there too...

I’ll keep you updated.
Lucre

Kimberley
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Kimberley » 27 May 2020, 07:28

Hi Lucre,

I follow this thread and every time I take a look, I hope you've found him! I'm sorry😔
I want to tell you a story I've just read on another forum. A woman in Colorado lost her tortoise in September last year in her gardenbed. She dug up her whole yard.
Well he popped up at the neighbors house in April ril this year! He survived a harsh colorado winter, piles of snow etc, it's super cold there. He burried himself close to a wall of the neighbors house, I think for more protection.
He's alive and well! So don't give up, the warmer it will be, the more chance you'll have!

Kimberley

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Nina
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Nina » 28 May 2020, 11:56

Thanks so much for the update, Lucre, and we are hoping with you that Jeff will turn up. They are incredible escape artists though, so do remind your neighbours to keep an eye out for him. I agree that he will no doubt turn up at some point, and he will be so happy to see you again!

Nina

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Lucre
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 11 Jun 2020, 09:37

Hello and sorry for the absence... :roll:

Jeff is still missing. My brother and I kept looking in the garden but since the gardeners cannot come and take all the leaves up from our magnolia, the garden is just a huge mess.

In addition the temperature of this week have been freezing cold, we have to sleep with an extra blanket and wear long sleeves at night. Yesterday and two days ago we had a really big thunderstorm, with black sky and loud thunders.
Poor Jeff, all alone in this situation. If I was him, I would panic.

But I guess tortoises do not really care, they just survived the harsh summers and the cold winter for thousand of years.

I hope that wherever he is, he is safe. I just hope that someday he will show up like nothing happened.

Ps.
I kept growing spinach, dandelions, plantain, wild strawberries and white clover.
You know, just to be on the safe side. If he will ever show up, he’ll receive a king seized meal.

Spinach plants have grown flowers. Or I think they’re flowers. Honestly, I thought that the spinach would die, but no, the plants survived and they are doing well.

The strawberries spread quickly and they invaded even my personal space. Now we have them in the garden too, growing naturally. EVERYWHERE.

I originally took a very tiny plant of white clover from my grandma’s backyard and now it’s a huge bush with white flowers.

Dandelions are just... so small. They grew only one miserable leaf in two months.

I will send some pics of my “tortoise food with no costumer”.

Love,
Lucre
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Teddy28
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Teddy28 » 20 Jun 2020, 22:41

Really feel so sorry for you Lucre but dont give up hope x

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Lucre
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Re: My tortoise escaped

Post by Lucre » 24 Jun 2020, 09:43

Hi all.

Again, I will update you on little Jeff.

We cleaned up the enclosure where it was because no, we did not find him... YET.
But the soil of the enclosure got so dry it became dusty and therefore not suitable for a tortoise to live in.

All of Jeff’s plants are doing ok (except the dandelions that are just so tiny).

A friend of mine told me not to give up on him because her sister lost her tortoise and she found it years later in the garden where she lost it.

I just hope Jeff is going to be ok.

Maaaan I miss that little guy. Who knew I would become so attached to a little creature like that?

Lucre

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