Don't do what I did yesterday. I almost lost my Cholla.

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
222
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
Yesterday afternoon I did something that Tom and other experienced tortoise keepers have repeatedly warned against : I took my 3 year old desert tortoise out of her enclosure and into yard. My intentions were good: to provide her with excercise and stimulation while he permanent large enclosure is being built. I was determined to keep my eyes on her every second: but guess what.

Something distracted me; I went to attend to it, and when I came back to the place where Cholla had been, she was gone.

For fear of stepping on her my husband and I took off our shoes, and we searched and searched until dark. Then, still barefoot, we brought out a mag light and a lantern and searched for hours more. No Cholla. Around 10 pm we went to bed, me in a state of high anxiety and great remorse.

At 7 a.m. this morning my daughter and grandson came over to help us look. On our hands and knees we searched under every bush, every leaf, in every crevice and depression, no Cholla. I cut down several small bushes, ripped up grass and weeds, etc. etc. We hoped she would come out from wherever she was once the yard was warm and sunny, but no.

We even went into the neighbors' backyard just in case she had somehow found a way under the fence, but their yard is such a jungle, and with so much stuff piled up along the fence line, it was pretty hopeless. We did all we could there, which wasn't much, and went back to searching our yards, back and front. No good.

I can't express how heartbroken I was, and how furious I was with myself

I loved her so dearly, but I had behaved stupidly and endangered her safety and her life. What really killed me is that just before I stupidly walked away from her yesterday afternoon, I had been sitting with her while she contentedly nosed around within a 2 foot radius around m, then crawled over my feet and into my lap. That I might never experience her sweetness again was practically killing me.

I prayed for the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony of Padua, and . . .

. . . God was merciful. At 1 pm I was lying on my stomach under a big rock rose, carefully pruning out the lower branches in an attempt to create more visibililty under there just in case cholla was hiding there.. After about ten minutes of this suddenly my Cholla appeared from somewhere in the thicket of the bush. I didn't see where she emerged, but she was walking very fast with her little neck stretched out and body language that looked frightened, or at the least, confused.

I may be projecting these emotions on her, and I may doing the same about the relief she seemed to feel when put her back in her familiar enclosure. She checked out every part of her enclosure several times. I fed her; she chomped her food down vorcaiously. I sat in the enclosure with her as she checked around one more time, then waddled happily into her little hut.

I sat there sobbing with gratitude and relief. I'm still thanking God with all my heart.

The moral of the story is to follow the advice of the experienced people on this forum: Don't imagine that you can't be distracted from watching him/her walk around. You can be distracted, as I was, for just a few minutes, and as a result lose your tortoise for twenty hours like I did. Or worse, lose her forever.
 

Aloysius Taschse

Active Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2020
Messages
178
Location (City and/or State)
Mainly Texas
The same sort of thing sometimes happens to me, but only for about a second or so. When I let my sulcata Kiwi outside I always put a rubber band around her and then stick a folded sticky note under it with one end going up. Even though this is extremely effective, when I look up from my book and she isn't where I last saw her I get scared for half a second before finding her and having that amazing feeling of relief! 🤣 Best wishes to you and Cholla and hopefully this never happens again!
 

Mrs.Jennifer

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jul 22, 2020
Messages
296
Location (City and/or State)
Norwich CT
I am so glad you found her. My Russian got out of her enclosure years ago while I was on vacation and left a sitter in charge. I lost her for 5 days. It was EXCRUCIATING! But I’m glad you experienced the joy of having her back.
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
222
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
The same sort of thing sometimes happens to me, but only for about a second or so. When I let my sulcata Kiwi outside I always put a rubber band around her and then stick a folded sticky note under it with one end going up. Even though this is extremely effective, when I look up from my book and she isn't where I last saw her I get scared for half a second before finding her and having that amazing feeling of relief! 🤣 Best wishes to you and Cholla and hopefully this never happens again!

Yes, thank you so much!:):tort:Best wishes to you and Kiwi too.:<3:
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
222
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
I am so glad you found her. My Russian got out of her enclosure years ago while I was on vacation and left a sitter in charge. I lost her for 5 days. It was EXCRUCIATING! But I’m glad you experienced the joy of having her back.

Thanks for your kind note. :<3::tort::tort:Twenty hours was awful enough, those five days you experineced. must have been horrendous. Thank God our beloved torts were restored to us and to safety. I'm wondering how your Russian escaped her enclosure. Do you know how your Russian escaped her enclosure?
 

Liltortivert

Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
California
My mom's aunt had a sulcata they let roam around in their extremely large backyard. One day it disappeared and they guessed it was stolen by one of the workers or it escaped.

Two years later it came back. They think one of the workers stole it and returned it but I think it was just hiding out for two years.

Its crazy how good torts are at disappearing
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
222
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
My mom's aunt had a sulcata they let roam around in their extremely large backyard. One day it disappeared and they guessed it was stolen by one of the workers or it escaped.

Two years later it came back. They think one of the workers stole it and returned it but I think it was just hiding out for two years.

Its crazy how good torts are at disappearing

That's for sure! :tort: 😦 That's quite a story about the sulcata who reappeared after two years!
 

Liltortivert

Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2020
Messages
19
Location (City and/or State)
California
That's for sure! :tort: 😦 That's quite a story about the sulcata who reappeared after two years!
Whats the saying? "If you love it let it go, and if it comes back you know it was yours all a long"

Not suggesting you let your torts go wild, but I'm sure theres a sense of home and familiarity between you two. A reunion was destined :).
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
53,309
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Yesterday afternoon I did something that Tom and other experienced tortoise keepers have repeatedly warned against : I took my 3 year old desert tortoise out of her enclosure and into yard. My intentions were good: to provide her with excercise and stimulation while he permanent large enclosure is being built. I was determined to keep my eyes on her every second: but guess what.

Something distracted me; I went to attend to it, and when I came back to the place where Cholla had been, she was gone.

For fear of stepping on her my husband and I took off our shoes, and we searched and searched until dark. Then, still barefoot, we brought out a mag light and a lantern and searched for hours more. No Cholla. Around 10 pm we went to bed, me in a state of high anxiety and great remorse.

At 7 a.m. this morning my daughter and grandson came over to help us look. On our hands and knees we searched under every bush, every leaf, in every crevice and depression, no Cholla. I cut down several small bushes, ripped up grass and weeds, etc. etc. We hoped she would come out from wherever she was once the yard was warm and sunny, but no.

We even went into the neighbors' backyard just in case she had somehow found a way under the fence, but their yard is such a jungle, and with so much stuff piled up along the fence line, it was pretty hopeless. We did all we could there, which wasn't much, and went back to searching our yards, back and front. No good.

I can't express how heartbroken I was, and how furious I was with myself

I loved her so dearly, but I had behaved stupidly and endangered her safety and her life. What really killed me is that just before I stupidly walked away from her yesterday afternoon, I had been sitting with her while she contentedly nosed around within a 2 foot radius around m, then crawled over my feet and into my lap. That I might never experience her sweetness again was practically killing me.

I prayed for the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony of Padua, and . . .

. . . God was merciful. At 1 pm I was lying on my stomach under a big rock rose, carefully pruning out the lower branches in an attempt to create more visibililty under there just in case cholla was hiding there.. After about ten minutes of this suddenly my Cholla appeared from somewhere in the thicket of the bush. I didn't see where she emerged, but she was walking very fast with her little neck stretched out and body language that looked frightened, or at the least, confused.

I may be projecting these emotions on her, and I may doing the same about the relief she seemed to feel when put her back in her familiar enclosure. She checked out every part of her enclosure several times. I fed her; she chomped her food down vorcaiously. I sat in the enclosure with her as she checked around one more time, then waddled happily into her little hut.

I sat there sobbing with gratitude and relief. I'm still thanking God with all my heart.

The moral of the story is to follow the advice of the experienced people on this forum: Don't imagine that you can't be distracted from watching him/her walk around. You can be distracted, as I was, for just a few minutes, and as a result lose your tortoise for twenty hours like I did. Or worse, lose her forever.
Thank you for sharing this. I felt that awful sinking feeling in my gut as I read your account. You did a good job of describing that awfulness. I try and try to warN people, but most people have to learn the hard way. That sickening adrenaline dump when you realize they are gone is just terrible. The long lasting low grade nausea, and sheer panic as you fruitlessly search for hours, will never be forgotten.

I'm very glad your story had a happy ending, because so often these stories don't.

I'll say it again and again: TORTOISES SHOULD NEVER BE LOOSE IN THE YARD OR IN THE HOUSE. ITS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER ONE WAY OR ANOTHER!!! KEEP THEM IN A LARGE SAFE ENCLOSURE, BOTH INDOORS AND OUT!
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
222
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
I'm so glad you found her! My heart was pounding just reading your account! Doing my happy dance! 💃

Thank you so much! :D

Thank you for sharing this. I felt that awful sinking feeling in my gut as I read your account. You did a good job of describing that awfulness. I try and try to warN people, but most people have to learn the hard way. That sickening adrenaline dump when you realize they are gone is just terrible. The long lasting low grade nausea, and sheer panic as you fruitlessly search for hours, will never be forgotten.

I'm very glad your story had a happy ending, because so often these stories don't.

I'll say it again and again: TORTOISES SHOULD NEVER BE LOOSE IN THE YARD OR IN THE HOUSE. ITS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER ONE WAY OR ANOTHER!!! KEEP THEM IN A LARGE SAFE ENCLOSURE, BOTH INDOORS AND OUT!
Thank you so much, Tom. I hope the account will serve to help others to follow this counsel to the letter. And thanks too for understanding how bad it was.
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
222
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
Whats the saying? "If you love it let it go, and if it comes back you know it was yours all a long"

Not suggesting you let your torts go wild, but I'm sure theres a sense of home and familiarity between you two. A reunion was destined :).
My mom's aunt had a sulcata they let roam around in their extremely large backyard. One day it disappeared and they guessed it was stolen by one of the workers or it escaped.

Two years later it came back. They think one of the workers stole it and returned it but I think it was just hiding out for two years.

Its crazy how good torts are at disappearing
And it's beyond belief how fast they can do it. That's amazing about the sulcata appearing out of nowhere. Thanks for your reply!
 

Gwenamy

New Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
Windsor
Yesterday afternoon I did something that Tom and other experienced tortoise keepers have repeatedly warned against : I took my 3 year old desert tortoise out of her enclosure and into yard. My intentions were good: to provide her with excercise and stimulation while he permanent large enclosure is being built. I was determined to keep my eyes on her every second: but guess what.

Something distracted me; I went to attend to it, and when I came back to the place where Cholla had been, she was gone.

For fear of stepping on her my husband and I took off our shoes, and we searched and searched until dark. Then, still barefoot, we brought out a mag light and a lantern and searched for hours more. No Cholla. Around 10 pm we went to bed, me in a state of high anxiety and great remorse.

At 7 a.m. this morning my daughter and grandson came over to help us look. On our hands and knees we searched under every bush, every leaf, in every crevice and depression, no Cholla. I cut down several small bushes, ripped up grass and weeds, etc. etc. We hoped she would come out from wherever she was once the yard was warm and sunny, but no.

We even went into the neighbors' backyard just in case she had somehow found a way under the fence, but their yard is such a jungle, and with so much stuff piled up along the fence line, it was pretty hopeless. We did all we could there, which wasn't much, and went back to searching our yards, back and front. No good.

I can't express how heartbroken I was, and how furious I was with myself

I loved her so dearly, but I had behaved stupidly and endangered her safety and her life. What really killed me is that just before I stupidly walked away from her yesterday afternoon, I had been sitting with her while she contentedly nosed around within a 2 foot radius around m, then crawled over my feet and into my lap. That I might never experience her sweetness again was practically killing me.

I prayed for the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony of Padua, and . . .

. . . God was merciful. At 1 pm I was lying on my stomach under a big rock rose, carefully pruning out the lower branches in an attempt to create more visibililty under there just in case cholla was hiding there.. After about ten minutes of this suddenly my Cholla appeared from somewhere in the thicket of the bush. I didn't see where she emerged, but she was walking very fast with her little neck stretched out and body language that looked frightened, or at the least, confused.

I may be projecting these emotions on her, and I may doing the same about the relief she seemed to feel when put her back in her familiar enclosure. She checked out every part of her enclosure several times. I fed her; she chomped her food down vorcaiously. I sat in the enclosure with her as she checked around one more time, then waddled happily into her little hut.

I sat there sobbing with gratitude and relief. I'm still thanking God with all my heart.

The moral of the story is to follow the advice of the experienced people on this forum: Don't imagine that you can't be distracted from watching him/her walk around. You can be distracted, as I was, for just a few minutes, and as a result lose your tortoise for twenty hours like I did. Or worse, lose her forever.
Been there. My Sulcata Django was able to squeeze out under a gate that was much lower than his shell height, and walk across the street into a neighbor's yard before they found him the next afternoon. Same - searching until late at night with a flashlight etc. Talk about a sickening, nauseating feeling. So grateful he made it safely home. For animals that seem to move kinda slowly, boy they can really disappear fast!!
 

lmichaels_22

Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
55
Location (City and/or State)
Olympia, WA
I hear people say "Why did you get tortoises? They are just reptiles that lay there!" Little do they know how much we get from our shelled friends!!! And just like dogs and cats, we accept them as our "kids". It's so sad to read these stories about lost friends!! But so good to hear that some of them end up good. Thanks for the reminder of how easy it is to be distracted for for just long enough to let these guys get lost.
 
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