Do I return this found tortoise?

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I would really appreciate your views, as experienced owners.

We aren't tortoise owners. A week ago, we found a tortoise by the side of a busy road near our house. We took him in, expecting soon to see a frantic effort from a loving owner looking for him, whereupon we would reunite them. But we heard nothing.

We took lots of advice and have been looking after him well over the past week, while we started to think about what to do next.
Then today, we have seen a social media post, asking if anyone has found a lost tortoise in that area.

What worries us - how come they didn't notice for a week that their tortoise was missing? Have they been away for a week and left him on his own? Is that OK? Is this situation something that could happen to anyone, or is it a sign of a not very responsible owner? (He seemed in good condition when we found him, and the vets said he was fine.)

What do you think? We don't want to make the owners unhappy, and we would happily reunite him if we knew he would be cared for. Our ultimate goal is to do whatever is in his best interests.

Please be kind, this is quite an emotional issue for us and we feel responsible for his welfare.
 

method89

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Can you post pictures so we can identify what species you have and then we offer the best way to care for him/her
 
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Thanks Method89 - yes we will certainly ask for detail and proof it is theirs.

But my question is more around - should we have any concerns that they are caring owners, given he was lost for a week and they didn't appear to have noticed?
 

jsheffield

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Thanks Method89 - yes we will certainly ask for detail and proof it is theirs.

But my question is more around - should we have any concerns that they are caring owners, given he was lost for a week and they didn't appear to have noticed?
If it's an outside tort, or has been living outside recently, it could be that days (or weeks) pass without them seeing each other.

I have some torts that I don't see for a week at a time, even in their inside enclosure, unless/until I make a point of digging them out to make sure they're doing ok.

Jamie
 

Yvonne G

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Thanks Method89 - yes we will certainly ask for detail and proof it is theirs.

But my question is more around - should we have any concerns that they are caring owners, given he was lost for a week and they didn't appear to have noticed?
Not up to you to be the tortoise police. If the tortoise is theirs, give it back to them.
 

Lyn W

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Hi, are you in the UK?
It's very kind of you to have looked after this tort, but if he is someone's pet he should be returned.
Torts can cover quite a lot of ground in a day so maybe they've just been looking locally.
It could be that they have put signs up near where they live and only just thought of using FB or similar.

Having said that it might be a good idea to post a picture of it here to get an ID of the species so that when you make contact you can ask them what species their lost tort is and make sure its going to the right person.
 
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Hi, are you in the UK?
It's very kind of you to have looked after this tort, but if he is someone's pet he should be returned.
Torts can cover quite a lot of ground in a day so maybe they've just been looking locally.
It could be that they have put signs up near where they live and only just thought of using FB or similar.

Having said that it might be a good idea to post a picture of it here to get an ID of the species so that when you make contact you can ask them what species their lost tort is and make sure its going to the right person.
Thanks Lyn. Yes we are in the UK. As Jamie's helpful reply indicates, its possible he regularly goes digging and isn't seen for days a time, so his owners may only have realised now that he is no longer in their garden.

We know he's a Hermann's (we took him to the vet to check if he was chipped) and we'd ask for photos and proof before handing over.
 

Lyn W

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Thanks Lyn. Yes we are in the UK. As Jamie's helpful reply indicates, its possible he regularly goes digging and isn't seen for days a time, so his owners may only have realised now that he is no longer in their garden.

We know he's a Hermann's (we took him to the vet to check if he was chipped) and we'd ask for photos and proof before handing over.
If you find his owners maybe suggest they join this forum for ideas on how to make a secure enclosure. Many people don't realise that torts will burrow and can be good climbers, so they are great escape artists - I certainly didn't until my tort adopted me and I joined TFO.
Good luck.
 

daniellenc

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Outdoor torts can easily go unnoticed since most hide during the day when it's bright out. Also most outdoor enclosures are heavily planted to provide protection and shade so they can be easy to miss. I also would echo the owners may not have known where to post, or may have posted in areas you don't frequent. It doesn't mean they weren't looking and frantically miss their baby. You should ask for a picture to confirm this is their tortoise, give it back if it is, and go get your own new baby to love and care for.
 

jwr0201

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if someone posted about a missing tortoise i would assume it to be theirs but it doesn't hurt to ask questions

where it was lost?
what type of tortoise?
how long have you had it?
how did it escape?
I agree - ask questions and make sure the post clearly identifies that tortoise. Here in FL, we have a lot of lost birds and often the finder make a post about finding a bird. Seems just as often, everybody has lost a bird! Just sayin' !
 
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Outdoor torts can easily go unnoticed since most hide during the day when it's bright out. Also most outdoor enclosures are heavily planted to provide protection and shade so they can be easy to miss. I also would echo the owners may not have known where to post, or may have posted in areas you don't frequent. It doesn't mean they weren't looking and frantically miss their baby. You should ask for a picture to confirm this is their tortoise, give it back if it is, and go get your own new baby to love and care for.
Thank you daniellenc, that's really reassuring to hear. We just want to know that he will be loved and cared for.

(We won't be getting our own, but we've enjoyed fostering him)
 

Fran's RT Carl

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I would really appreciate your views, as experienced owners.

We aren't tortoise owners. A week ago, we found a tortoise by the side of a busy road near our house. We took him in, expecting soon to see a frantic effort from a loving owner looking for him, whereupon we would reunite them. But we heard nothing.

We took lots of advice and have been looking after him well over the past week, while we started to think about what to do next.
Then today, we have seen a social media post, asking if anyone has found a lost tortoise in that area.

What worries us - how come they didn't notice for a week that their tortoise was missing? Have they been away for a week and left him on his own? Is that OK? Is this situation something that could happen to anyone, or is it a sign of a not very responsible owner? (He seemed in good condition when we found him, and the vets said he was fine.)

What do you think? We don't want to make the owners unhappy, and we would happily reunite him if we knew he would be cared for. Our ultimate goal is to do whatever is in his best interests.

Please be kind, this is quite an emotional issue for us and we feel responsible for his welfare.
Hi Sherlock, I just went thru exactly what you are going through. I also think you should ask a lot of questions to make sure that person is the rightful owner and if it is, then by all rights, you should return him. Mine was "dumped", found him walking on my street by my house, which was very strange. After many media posts, alerting our village police - no answer. Had him for about 3 weeks and found a very nice guy with a Russian Tortoise looking for a second and gave mine to him as I have 7 cats and was difficult for me to keep up. You are a gem and I know how attached you've become. Good luck.
 

Jacqui

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I know I don't locate all of mine every day. I also know, how you can be outside, turn your back for "just a second" and they vanish (my kids learned this and you often hear stories about it happening). None of mine ever purposely tunneled out, but before all enclosures were finished, a few tried their hand at climbing out. I have also had an "escape" redfoot (adult mind ya). I told my husband there was no way she could escape. The two of us spent hours on our hands and knees searching for her. Never found her. Next morning, there she was. Taught me how in a well planted enclosure, tortoises can hide. I no longer get seriously worried, when they come up "missing". Point being don't judge the tortoise owner, as you would a dog owner. Especially if you are talking a sulcata or Russian.

If it is their animal and they want it back, please consider adopting another tortoise, so many need caring folks like you.
 

Jenna524

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I definitely think returning the tortoise is the best idea—of course with due diligence to be sure it’s the correct owner by asking questions, etc. You can’t know all the reasons for their just surfacing now without communication and clarification with them. Unless you see evidence of true abuse or neglect, I think it’s safe to assume the owners deserve the respect to receive their pet back.
 

Sarah2020

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Owners take pictures of pets and tortoise have unique scutes so I would ask for a clear shell picture and match it up and if you are satisfied then return to owner. Tortoise are escape merchants and like to wander it needs to go home.
 
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