ghostdance

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Apr 29, 2021
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Glenside
Hi all! I'm new here but decided to make an account because I'm worried about my Russian tort, Arnie.

I built him a new outdoor enclosure (8 ft long, 3.5 ft wide, 3 ft high) with a lid on top. I introduced Arnie to it (with supervision) for a short periods for a few days because he's never had an outdoor enclosure, but then left him out there yesterday for most of the day.

When I came back a few hours later, I couldn't find him at all, but the lid wasn't disturbed. I think he's probably digging, but usually I can see where the substrate is turned up and I can't this time. I've brushed off the top layer of substrate and still nothing. There's probably about 3" of Cypress bedding & another 1-2" of Coco fiber before it becomes hard dirt and rocks. I literally had to use an axe to break up the rocks when we built the enclosure.

I'm worried because we're forecasted to get some rain this evening. Since he isn't used to digging outside, is it possible he dug himself down and won't know how to get out? Could he drown if he doesn't get out before the ground gets too wet? Should I spend today removing the stuff in the enclosure to look for him?

Any advice or thoughts would be helpful, thanks.
 

TheTattooedTortoise

Active Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
Messages
138
Location (City and/or State)
North Wales, UK
Hi all! I'm new here but decided to make an account because I'm worried about my Russian tort, Arnie.

I built him a new outdoor enclosure (8 ft long, 3.5 ft wide, 3 ft high) with a lid on top. I introduced Arnie to it (with supervision) for a short periods for a few days because he's never had an outdoor enclosure, but then left him out there yesterday for most of the day.

When I came back a few hours later, I couldn't find him at all, but the lid wasn't disturbed. I think he's probably digging, but usually I can see where the substrate is turned up and I can't this time. I've brushed off the top layer of substrate and still nothing. There's probably about 3" of Cypress bedding & another 1-2" of Coco fiber before it becomes hard dirt and rocks. I literally had to use an axe to break up the rocks when we built the enclosure.

I'm worried because we're forecasted to get some rain this evening. Since he isn't used to digging outside, is it possible he dug himself down and won't know how to get out? Could he drown if he doesn't get out before the ground gets too wet? Should I spend today removing the stuff in the enclosure to look for him?

Any advice or thoughts would be helpful, thanks.
If he's never been outdoors before then he needs finding asap doesn't he... be gentle and methodical, search slowly and calmly in 1ft square areas at a time... use your fingers not a shovel, rake etc. Turn over every bit of soil down to the solid hard rocks underneath and move to the next square.
I certainly wouldn't be leaving him out overnight if he was mine so you could do with getting out there and starting to dig.

Hope you find him safe n sound
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
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Russian tortoises are very good at disguising their hiding places. Get down on your hands and knees and go over every inch of the ground with your fingers. Are you sure he couldn't have dug out under a wall?
 

ghostdance

New Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
2
Location (City and/or State)
Glenside
I found him safe! He dug to almost the bottom of the wall, underneath rocks I had set up to prevent him from digging in that spot... I just cant believe he was able to cover it so well.

I'm definitely going to have to rethink the landscaping. I'm thinking I might put big stone pavers down underneath and then load it with a lot more substrate.

Anyway, thanks for your help and reassurance!
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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Jan 9, 2010
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Glad you found him. All of that behavior sounds completely normal for a Russian. They won't drown if it rains while they are dug in unless its quite cold, and even then usually not.
 
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