Escape artis/Russian tortoise mama in Phila,PA

Moonflwrmama

New Member
Joined
May 24, 2021
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Philadelphia
Hello all My name is Niki, I inherited a Russian tortoise that was found wandering in the middle of south st in Philly back in 2005 and a person brought him to my mom who worked at a pet supply store nearby. Fast forward and I inherited her about 4 yrs ago when she went away and my then 5yo didn’t want to give her back after my moms 2 week vacation…

unfortunately I kept her in setup she was originally in from my mom which was a rabbit looking cage blue bottom wire top and only this past pandemic year really started researching what was “best” for her. so in April once it warmed up enough here I started making an outdoor enclosure in the abandoned lot we basically took over next to my house for a kids area during covid. I built an above ground garden basically and it’s had three iterations since April 8th.. darn turtle is an escape artist. We lost her last weekend for an entire night me and kids were hysterical. Then she shows up out front on our sidewalk at 945 in the morning sunning herself. Hallelujah. Then came the third change of enclosure. So I think I have it figured out now but she’s stubborn and keeps trying so I’m out there like an eagle to see where she tends to try and escape…Also yesterday after never having a problem with her inside enclosure. Which is on top of a 4 drawer dresser in front of a great sun window she decides to climb out at some point and by the grace of turtle gods she only fell to the top of the trash can instead of the floor but she was upside down and I have no clue how long..😫 so online forums here I come!! I’ve been reading the back threads about care/enclosures and decided to repurpose the dresser she was in into her actual enclosure and it’s curing right now from waterproof barrier for the inside so I can attach the contractor bags. since I’m on budget and couldn’t afford pvc board I got a thinner plywood and doubled up on it as the bottom of enclosure added some additional supports with lumber I had and found at all these lovely abandoned job sites in my area. Then sprayed a waterproofing barrier all on inside. I’ve got to attach some castor wheels since I’m moving it to our living room and it needs to be a little mobile. I waffled on the plexi glass window in one spot mostly because my scrap plexi wasn’t large enough to cover the original bottom of the dresser which had nothing so I added a single layer of my “bottom” on that side. So that’s enclosure news.

Also plenty of pictures with the long beak since I hadn’t realized it was a problem and took her to the exotic vet and had blood panel and beak and all manner of lovely things done except figuring out his/her sex since vet said only a dna blood work would tell us..so we go by Myrtle/she cuz that was what we named her when we first found her. Any and all advice is welcome. Be mindful of space though 8ftx4ft would be fantastic but we’re in a metro city and I ain’t rolling in the dough🤪. Also size of new indoor enclosure/dresser is 31x39x15-1/2 high. It was an IKEA dresser we repurposed. And she’s in a clear under bed box at moment.

Myrtle loves pansies/kale/spring mix/endive/marigolds/romaine/garden sage/dandelions/ she ignores the carrots and beets I planted just uses for hiding mostly.
 

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ZenHerper

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Feb 27, 2020
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Plenty of folks will be by to chat about the enclosure/escape situation.

But we can also help you with the sex with some clear photos of the plastron (bottom shell) and tail...
 

wellington

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I'm a bit confused with all the different pictures that looks like a bunch of different enclosures. What I can say is they need a minimum of a 4x8 foot as an adult and they can climb straight up a tree. Mine did. They also will dig out. So put a bottom in, I used a dog X pen laid on ground. Make sure sides are tall enough but not too tall they get no breeze.
Another bit of advice. Try to find a better vet in case ever needed. For this vet to tell you a DNA test would have to be done to determine sex tells me s/he has zero clues about tortoises.
 

Krista S

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Welcome to the forum!

That’s awesome that you’re taking steps to improve your tortoises life. You’ve come to the right place. There are a lot of really experienced people here who can help guide you in the right direction. Judging by the picture where the boy is petting the tortoises head (super cute picture, btw), your tortoise is a male. This judgement is based on the very long tail. Your tortoise appears to be a full grown adult, and as @wellington said, the minimum enclosure size is 4ftx8ft, preferably even bigger. They walk many miles in a day which is needed to aid in digestion, and it also helps keep their nails trim, amongst other things. The enclosure size requirements aren’t a “nice to have” thing, it is one of the solid requirements in order to have a healthy thriving tortoise. Incase you haven't seen it, here’s the latest care sheet for your species of tortoise.

 

maggie3fan

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Hey there welcome! I am familiar with the space problem in Philadelphia...I had a job there and part of my pay was housing at #1 Rittenhouse Square. Russians are very good at escaping. You might need to put a lip around any walls, like this sorta...this is my very own escape artist and this is how I fixed it...it ain't pretty, but it keeps him in...lol
100_7732.JPG
 

Moonflwrmama

New Member
Joined
May 24, 2021
Messages
7
Location (City and/or State)
Philadelphia
I'm a bit confused with all the different pictures that looks like a bunch of different enclosures. What I can say is they need a minimum of a 4x8 foot as an adult and they can climb straight up a tree. Mine did. They also will dig out. So put a bottom in, I used a dog X pen laid on ground. Make sure sides are tall enough but not too tall they get no breeze.
Another bit of advice. Try to find a better vet in case ever needed. For this vet to tell you a DNA test would have to be done to determine sex tells me s/he has zero clues about tortoises.
The different enclosure situation outside was the different attempts to escape proof the outdoor area one since she taught me I’m an idiot and I’m still thinking I need to raise the height a bit more for outdoor one still and the inside one is the dresser conversion I’m doing at the moment. We’re in a rental and don’t have the recommended spacing inside so outside for summer was best I could do until our housing situation changes. Hopefully September if housing market agrees but it’s scary for first time buyers out there right now. But dresser is bigger and safer than previous indoor setup.
 

wellington

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Happy Birthday
If you can fix a rail along the top of the walls like in Maggie's picture then they can't climb out. It doesn't have to be as big of a hang over as in the pic but about an inch or so.
 

Moonflwrmama

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Philadelphia
Thanks everyone for the welcome! I finished the indoor pen for now if I can find a cheap couch that’s a two seater instead of our three seat with chaise I’ll be able to extend it all way to wall and give her about 88 inches length for indoor one. But since the outdoor one could do with extra space I think I’ll work on that for now as next project. She also has wooden edge on front and back but sides I need to attach a small edge still and add another bag of coco I think or orchid bark which I couldn’t find at pet store I ran too yesterday.
 

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gibby

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Location (City and/or State)
Philadelphia
Thanks everyone for the welcome! I finished the indoor pen for now if I can find a cheap couch that’s a two seater instead of our three seat with chaise I’ll be able to extend it all way to wall and give her about 88 inches length for indoor one. But since the outdoor one could do with extra space I think I’ll work on that for now as next project. She also has wooden edge on front and back but sides I need to attach a small edge still and add another bag of coco I think or orchid bark which I couldn’t find at pet store I ran too yesterday.
i live in Philly too i know space is tough i have a 4x8 enclosure for my redfoot and she is about 2yrs but a teeny houdini too
 

TaylorTortoise

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Joined
Mar 24, 2020
Messages
959
Location (City and/or State)
Abington
Thanks everyone for the welcome! I finished the indoor pen for now if I can find a cheap couch that’s a two seater instead of our three seat with chaise I’ll be able to extend it all way to wall and give her about 88 inches length for indoor one. But since the outdoor one could do with extra space I think I’ll work on that for now as next project. She also has wooden edge on front and back but sides I need to attach a small edge still and add another bag of coco I think or orchid bark which I couldn’t find at pet store I ran too yesterday.
I’m not that far away from your area. I’m from Abington, PA. That’s pretty cool that you found the tort down in the city. It’s such a busy city and I’m surprised she did not get run over.
 

TaylorTortoise

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Joined
Mar 24, 2020
Messages
959
Location (City and/or State)
Abington
Thanks everyone for the welcome! I finished the indoor pen for now if I can find a cheap couch that’s a two seater instead of our three seat with chaise I’ll be able to extend it all way to wall and give her about 88 inches length for indoor one. But since the outdoor one could do with extra space I think I’ll work on that for now as next project. She also has wooden edge on front and back but sides I need to attach a small edge still and add another bag of coco I think or orchid bark which I couldn’t find at pet store I ran too yesterday.
You’re using a couch as the enclosure?
 

Yvonne G

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Hello all My name is Niki, I inherited a Russian tortoise that was found wandering in the middle of south st in Philly back in 2005 and a person brought him to my mom who worked at a pet supply store nearby. Fast forward and I inherited her about 4 yrs ago when she went away and my then 5yo didn’t want to give her back after my moms 2 week vacation…

unfortunately I kept her in setup she was originally in from my mom which was a rabbit looking cage blue bottom wire top and only this past pandemic year really started researching what was “best” for her. so in April once it warmed up enough here I started making an outdoor enclosure in the abandoned lot we basically took over next to my house for a kids area during covid. I built an above ground garden basically and it’s had three iterations since April 8th.. darn turtle is an escape artist. We lost her last weekend for an entire night me and kids were hysterical. Then she shows up out front on our sidewalk at 945 in the morning sunning herself. Hallelujah. Then came the third change of enclosure. So I think I have it figured out now but she’s stubborn and keeps trying so I’m out there like an eagle to see where she tends to try and escape…Also yesterday after never having a problem with her inside enclosure. Which is on top of a 4 drawer dresser in front of a great sun window she decides to climb out at some point and by the grace of turtle gods she only fell to the top of the trash can instead of the floor but she was upside down and I have no clue how long..😫 so online forums here I come!! I’ve been reading the back threads about care/enclosures and decided to repurpose the dresser she was in into her actual enclosure and it’s curing right now from waterproof barrier for the inside so I can attach the contractor bags. since I’m on budget and couldn’t afford pvc board I got a thinner plywood and doubled up on it as the bottom of enclosure added some additional supports with lumber I had and found at all these lovely abandoned job sites in my area. Then sprayed a waterproofing barrier all on inside. I’ve got to attach some castor wheels since I’m moving it to our living room and it needs to be a little mobile. I waffled on the plexi glass window in one spot mostly because my scrap plexi wasn’t large enough to cover the original bottom of the dresser which had nothing so I added a single layer of my “bottom” on that side. So that’s enclosure news.

Also plenty of pictures with the long beak since I hadn’t realized it was a problem and took her to the exotic vet and had blood panel and beak and all manner of lovely things done except figuring out his/her sex since vet said only a dna blood work would tell us..so we go by Myrtle/she cuz that was what we named her when we first found her. Any and all advice is welcome. Be mindful of space though 8ftx4ft would be fantastic but we’re in a metro city and I ain’t rolling in the dough🤪. Also size of new indoor enclosure/dresser is 31x39x15-1/2 high. It was an IKEA dresser we repurposed. And she’s in a clear under bed box at moment.

Myrtle loves pansies/kale/spring mix/endive/marigolds/romaine/garden sage/dandelions/ she ignores the carrots and beets I planted just uses for hiding mostly.
Oh man o man! That beak was something else, huh? I think I understood correctly the vet has since trimmed it?

In the picture with your son one can clearly see a long fat male tail.
 
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