Lost Russian Tortoise Sweden

Carola SWE

New Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2016
Messages
8
Hi,
I'm new to the forum, and I reaching out from Sweden for help & support since my 17 years old Russian Tortoise has escaped. I have had her for 14 years. The shell bottom is approx. 15 cm long. Weight: 850g.
7 days ago my tortoise managed to open the sliding patio door (when not guarded for a couple of minutes, since she was "inside" our patio). We have looked everywhere, under all bushes, in every corner. The police, the vets & animal control have been informed. She is reported missing via the neighborhoods Facebook group and by missing posters in the area. We used a tracker dog day 2. But she is still missing, and I'm so sad & heartbroken.

I will summarise the condition, with the hope of getting your help in the search.
My tortoise was currently staying with my parents, due to my vacation trip. My parents house has a patio and a large green garden. The tortoise had been with my parents for 7 days before the escape. During these days she has been allowed to walk the garden and in the patio under high supervision. When she got tired she usually walks back into her nest in the patio. She is currently quite lazy, and is basically only active around lunch time and 4-6 pm. She had just been walked and bathed before she escaped.
She escaped 6 pm. The escape was noticed within 5 minutes. The garden is fenced with bushes, so she can easily escape to the neighbors. The patio door is close to the neighbor on the left, and the tracking dog indicated activity in their garden (a section close to the boarder with heavy shrubbery). The neighbor to the right has a dog in their yard. The dog was unleashed in their garden by the time of the escape. The houses gardens are placed in a line in front of a large & thick, but newly cut field. We don't believe that she is good digger, she is normally satisfied as long as her head is buried. And as I said before, we have looked everywhere.
The weather in Sweden has been very hot (25-30 C) the last 7 days. Today there was a heavy rain storm.

In which direction do you believe we should focus? I hope she went left, but I'm worried that she went for the large field, but at the same time that would require her to cross the whole garden and she normally don't prefer open areas and/or thick grass.
Do tortoises avoid dogs? I'm hoping that she avoided the neighbor with the dog, and the dog would have been acting crazy if it had located the tortoise.
Does anyone have an idea of how far Russian Tortoises tend to escape? Is it most likely that she is still in a close distance?
What else can we do?

Thanks in advance
Carola
 

JoesMum

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
21,588
Location (City and/or State)
Kent, South East England
Hello Carola

I am sorry to hear of your tortoise's escape.

All Russians are escape artists and they have a reputation for both climbing and digging. In the wild they naturally spend a lot of time underground as the temperature is stable and they are safe from predators. It is likely your tortoise will dig underground.

Your tortoise could have gone in any direction and is probably having a wonderful time munching on weeds. In the temperatures you describe they can move fast and go far, but the likelihood is that he's found some good food and stayed there.

The time to look for a tortoise is in the morning sunshine; a tortoise must bask to get going and to digest food. You need to identify likely basking places in full sun, but probably sheltered from wind by plants, a wall or a fence.

Baiting likely basking spots with irresistible food like strawberries can help to lure a tortoise.

Are any of your neighbours gardeners? Or are there any that keep horses or livestock? A nice rotting compost heap or manure pile is warm and an attractive place for tortoises. (Ours loves the compost heap where we dump mown grass)

Do any of your neighbours grow 'tortoise food'? - salads, greens, tomatoes - Again that would make an attractive place for a tort to stop.
 

Carola SWE

New Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2016
Messages
8
Hello Carola

I am sorry to hear of your tortoise's escape.

All Russians are escape artists and they have a reputation for both climbing and digging. In the wild they naturally spend a lot of time underground as the temperature is stable and they are safe from predators. It is likely your tortoise will dig underground.

Your tortoise could have gone in any direction and is probably having a wonderful time munching on weeds. In the temperatures you describe they can move fast and go far, but the likelihood is that he's found some good food and stayed there.

The time to look for a tortoise is in the morning sunshine; a tortoise must bask to get going and to digest food. You need to identify likely basking places in full sun, but probably sheltered from wind by plants, a wall or a fence.

Baiting likely basking spots with irresistible food like strawberries can help to lure a tortoise.

Are any of your neighbours gardeners? Or are there any that keep horses or livestock? A nice rotting compost heap or manure pile is warm and an attractive place for tortoises. (Ours loves the compost heap where we dump mown grass)

Do any of your neighbours grow 'tortoise food'? - salads, greens, tomatoes - Again that would make an attractive place for a tort to stop.

Thank you for your kind words & good advices.
We will create a tempting basking spot tomorrow. How is their sense of smell? Can they smell food, or do they need to see it to find it? Strawberries have never been a favorite. She loves dandelion, but unfortunately the season is in-between flowers.

The gardens are approximately 100-150m2 with grass, bushes, trees & flowerbeds. So basically, they are all offering nice areas with all-day-sun, good food and hiding places. The neighbor to the left grows salad, but in boxes. I assume box climbing would be possible. It's the neighbor to the left who also has a "mini bush forest" with heavy bushes, soil & grass. It is heaven for a Russian, so I hope it is the hiding place.

No horses or livestock in the area.
 

JoesMum

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
21,588
Location (City and/or State)
Kent, South East England
I am not sure how much smell influences them. I see my Greek sniffing things.

They do have excellent colour vision and do like sweet foods even though they're not good for them (Russians, in common with all other Testudo, cannot process sugars properly- too much causes kidney and digestive problems) As a result they are very attracted to red, yellow and purple foods; colours that they associate with nice ripe fruit and sweet flowers.

Joe is particularly fond of dandelion and buttercup flowers and also clover flowers (both the red/pink and white types)

Good luck with your search. Let us know how you get on.
 

Tidgy's Dad

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
48,166
Location (City and/or State)
Fes, Morocco
Don't give up hope.
They can be missing for days, weeks or even months and suddenly turn up as if nothing has happened.
I wish you all the best in your search.
 

TammyJ

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
3,103
Location (City and/or State)
Jamaica
I am also wishing you the best of good luck in getting her back!

Offer a reward.
 

Carola SWE

New Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2016
Messages
8
Thank you all for your kind words and for giving me hope.
Three weeks have passed and she is still missing :(
It's the not knowing that is the hardest.
Hopefully, she is having the time of her life, but I miss her and want her back now.
 

JoesMum

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
21,588
Location (City and/or State)
Kent, South East England
Thank you all for your kind words and for giving me hope.
Three weeks have passed and she is still missing :(
It's the not knowing that is the hardest.
Hopefully, she is having the time of her life, but I miss her and want her back now.
Electronic hugs from around the world for you :(

I do hope she shows up soon
 

Carola SWE

New Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2016
Messages
8
Don't give up hope.
They can be missing for days, weeks or even months and suddenly turn up as if nothing has happened.
I wish you all the best in your search.

Thank you for giving me hope.
It's so frustrating not knowing if she is hiding very close to us, or if she has walked a long distance by now.
 

JoesMum

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
21,588
Location (City and/or State)
Kent, South East England
Thank you for giving me hope.
It's so frustrating not knowing if she is hiding very close to us, or if she has walked a long distance by now.
I am going to go hunting for a TFO thread about a lost Russian from a few years ago.

The tortoise turned up the following spring having successfully hibernated itself through a bad winter. What greeted the owner in their garden was a ball of mud with legs, perfectly healthy and just in need of a bath!

There is always hope :)
 

Tidgy's Dad

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
48,166
Location (City and/or State)
Fes, Morocco
Thank you for giving me hope.
It's so frustrating not knowing if she is hiding very close to us, or if she has walked a long distance by now.
I cannot imagine the pain I would go through if I lost my Tidgy.
My heart is with you and your tortoise.
Wherever she is, i too hope she is well.
 

RosemaryDW

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Feb 17, 2016
Messages
3,873
Location (City and/or State)
Newport Coast, CA
If there was ever an animal capable of showing up after a long absence, surely it is a tortoise.

Hoping she wanders back home very soon.
 

Carola SWE

New Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2016
Messages
8
SHE IS BACK! 10 weeks after the escape she was found in a garden (stealing salad) approximately 300-400m from my family's house. She is dirty but healthy and my family and I are sooooo very happy today! So glad she was found before the cold Swedish winter. Thank you for all kind words & support!
 

JoesMum

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2011
Messages
21,588
Location (City and/or State)
Kent, South East England
That is absolutely fantastic news. I am so pleased for you! I am sure she's had a wonderful time! Maximum security measures in place now so she can't put you through this heartache again.
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top