Sparkplug broke out of his enclosure and wound up 30 miles away

COmtnLady

Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
31
Location (City and/or State)
Colorado
A 200-pound tortoise named Sparkplug broke out of his enclosure and wound up 30 miles away from his Alabama home
By Scottie Andrew, CNN

Updated 10:38 AM ET, Wed October 28, 2020
A beloved African spurred tortoise named Sparkplug made a daring escape from his Alabama enclosure and wound up over 30 miles from home. He was returned to his owners last week.


A beloved African spurred tortoise named Sparkplug made a daring escape from his Alabama enclosure and wound up over 30 miles from home. He was returned to his owners last week.

(CNN)A 200-pound tortoise broke out of his enclosure, evaded capture for two days and wound up over 30 miles away from his Alabama home.

It's fitting that his name is Sparkplug.

The surprisingly nimble African spurred tortoise, at an estimated 60 years old, returned to his Sardis City home last week after two days on the lam, his owner Ty Harris told CNN. It was the first time the family tortoise had ever attempted an escape.

"He just went out on the town a little bit," Harris said. "He had to take a journey."





Sparkplug made a daring escape
Harris and his wife, a school teacher and school principal, respectively, were at school when Sparkplug made his escape. Harris said the hard-shelled runaway must've pushed up against the fence until he broke the chain link apart and let himself out.

"I wasn't worried about anything hurting him," Harris said, noting Sparkplug's shell armor and scaly legs. "I was worried about when it got cold."

Sparkplug relies on artificial heat during the fall and winter months to regulate his body temperature. Without that, Harris worried he'd freeze.

There was a limited window to bring Sparkplug home
So the race was on. With limited time before a cold front moved in, Harris shared a photo of Sparkplug with a plea to return him on Facebook, where friends shared his post widely.

Eventually, the photo of Sparkplug made its way to the man who found him. He told Harris that Sparkplug made it about 100 yards away from the home and crossed a road when he found the tortoise, picked him up (a feat, considering Sparkplug's size) and hoisted him into the back of a truck.

A 150-pound runaway tortoise is back home after 74 days on the lam

A 150-pound runaway tortoise is back home after 74 days on the lam


The man owned land about 30 miles away and, thinking that Sparkplug was a turtle and enjoyed being in the water, dropped off the hefty tortoise at a pond on his sprawling country property. He didn't know then that the "turtle" he'd found on the side of the road was a beloved African spurred tortoise who'd run away from home.

Sparkplug, whose species is native to the Sahara Desert in Northern Africa, did not enjoy the water, so he went back on his way, making him even more difficult to find.

Harris and his daughter searched for Sparkplug on the man's land, following the tortoise's trail through soybean fields and heeding tips from neighbors from said they'd spotted him.

But their first night of searching turned up short.

"'Oh no,'" Harris remembered thinking. "'We may have lost him.'"

The next day, the man who found Sparkplug the first time found him again, tucked in a corner of the property Harris hadn't yet searched. He was returned to his family safe and sound after 48 hours away.

A part of the family for over a decade

Harris and his family have had Sparkplug for about 10 years now. He's the one animal they've kept from their days of operating an animal sanctuary for rescued big cats and other wild animals.

"Sparkplug just kinda came with us," Harris said. "He was part of the family."

Aside from his quick trip out of town, Sparkplug is content with his backyard home, Harris said. The family dug him a burrow where he can wait out the cold and keep out of the Southern sun for a while.

Diego, the tortoise who saved his entire species, finally retires to uninhabited island

Diego, the tortoise who saved his entire species, finally retires to uninhabited island


But clearly, the chain link wasn't cutting it anymore, so Harris is renovating Sparkplug's enclosure so as to prevent a future escape. This time, he's using rebar and wooden boards to reinforce his enclosure.

Sparkplug has become something of a celebrity in Harris' town. Kids and parents stop by for a photo op, and Harris' family members who garden come toss their extra harvest over Sparkplug's fence so he can gorge on squash and watermelon.

"Everybody kind of knows about and kind of takes care of him," Harris said.

He's even fielding offers to adapt his story into a children's book, his owner said. But for now, Sparkplug is satisfied in his burrow, back with his family, spending his days chowing down and staying put.




 

Oxalis

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2013
Messages
2,944
Location (City and/or State)
Michigan
Harris said the hard-shelled runaway must've pushed up against the fence until he broke the chain link apart and let himself out.
Maybe this is why some tortoises shouldn't be able to see out of their enclosure walls?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
53,783
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
That tortoise is nowhere near 200 pounds, its not 60 years old, and "in a burrow to wait out the cold" is not going to end well in Alabama when it snows.
 

Blackdog1714

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
3,902
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
That tortoise is nowhere near 200 pounds, its not 60 years old, and "in a burrow to wait out the cold" is not going to end well in Alabama when it snows.
I want a picture of the guy that picked him up! At 200 and no grab handles that would be a tough lift!
 

Maro2Bear

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 29, 2014
Messages
12,136
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
And a misleading title....newspaper lead makes one think the tort walked 30 miles....but, in reality, just down the lane...

➡️➡️➡️ He told Harris that Sparkplug made it about 100 yards away from the home and crossed a road when he found the tortoise, picked him up (a feat, considering Sparkplug's size) and hoisted him into the back of a truck.
 

queen koopa

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2018
Messages
695
Location (City and/or State)
Las Vegas Nevada
It is like the granite stones they lift. It is a combination of weight and hard to hold. I hope they don’t “swim” when you do them it’s a crazy shake weight 😂
Definitely hard to hold. I weigh 110 and my Sulcata is only 40 + pounds now and I dead lift her then pop her up on my hip. She does the swim sometimes, just gotta tighten my core and avoid the legs! 😂 a couple handles would definitely help...
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top