Tortoises at RV Parks in the US - Does anyone know how this happened?

Lizen.hayes

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Johns Creek
At the beginning of December, I took my little family on a week-long RV trip. This was our first time RVing and we went from Atlanta to The Gulf of Mississippi, New Orleans, Galveston, TX, San Antonio, and then back. When we stopped at an RV park near Galveston we met a HUUUUGE Sulcata Tortoise! He was about 3 times the size of the 18-year-old Sulcata I take care of at the nature preserve! He had to be at least 200lbs, if not bigger! He had a smallish enclosure (for his size) right in the middle of a mini-golf course! Apparently, he also had a mate that was in the burrow. I was speaking with the groundskeeper and he was telling me that they laid eggs and had baby Sulcatas not too long ago. Then, at our next stop in San Antonio, we met a couple at the RV park that had also encountered tortoises at several other RV parks. I wanted to post a picture of this huge old guy and to ask anyone if they knew anything about how all these tortoises ended up at these various RV parks in the US. Maybe you have heard stories or encountered a few on your own adventures?

Tort.PNG
 

AgataP

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Seattle, WA
Many people get sulcatas when they are hatchlings because they are oh so cute. However they get less cute (to uneducated owners) as they grow. Many people take the approach of “Free Willy”. Instead of taking the responsibility of owning a huge tortoise they let them go. Sulcatas are also famous for getting out of enclosures and going for adventures. Yes they love the heat but they are tough and can survive some low temps. I just seen a video few weeks back of a guy finding a Sulcata in a parking lot. So my guess is people get a baby sulcata than they let them go. RV parks, golf courses, camp spots are busy spots so chances are someone will find the tort. In a warmer zones torts will find a place to live. I mean golf course must be very attractive to a tortoise. All that green grass, sprinklers, sun - I would move in. Some owners will let them stay as “tourist attraction”. Guess some find mates and start hatching and now we have a problem .....
Often people take two torts because “they get so lonely”, then they probably release both. This is all just my speculation. However when I lived in Poland we ended up with massive amounts of Russian tortoises that were dumped off illegal transports on the borders. They are not native to Poland but for some time we were finding torts all over. My friend found my old Russian tort half melted into and asphalt. He/she lived a good life. I strongly believe that releasing tortoises into the wild is something that is happening everywhere.
 

Lizen.hayes

New Member
Location (City and/or State)
Johns Creek
I think you are right in your assumption that people just "release" the tortoises. I wish more people would educate themselves on the animals they are taking into their homes and understand the time commitment. We have taken in quite a few animals at our preserve, including our Sulcata. We have a former pet King Snake, who was obese when we first took him and we have been working with him to keep him moving around and get him stronger. We also have a few former pet ducks, who we have had to rehab and get healthy because people just don't understand how to take care of the animal they "wanted". We can't take any more former pets because as a non-profit we can't always afford to take care of them. It's hard because I want to help ALL of them!
 
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