Es­caped tor­toise re­turned to fam­ily

Es­caped tor­toise re­turned to fam­ily

EDMONTON – A tor­toise who es­caped from his yard is now home with his fam­ily in Sherwood Park.

Turns out, 10-year-old Tucker the Tor­toise is a rep­tile es­cape art­ist. He’s a sulcata or spurred tor­toise from South Af­ri­ca, which means his legs have spurs that can break through dry­wall or dig under fen­ces, ac­cord­ing to the Alberta Turtle and Tor­toise Society.

Around 5 p.m. Monday peace of­fi­cer Cody Rossing was called to a part of Township Road 521 west of Highway 21 in Strathcona County. Think­ing he and col­league Evan Brown would find a tur­tle the size of a Fris­bee, Rossing was sur­prised to find an 80-pound tor­toise wad­dling along.

“I was sur­prised the speed he was go­ing,” Rossing said Tues­day. “We didn’t have the radar go­ing. He was walk­ing speed, that’s for sure.”

The two of­fi­cers hoisted Tucker up — each clutch­ing a side — and buckled him into the back seat. He wig­gled out a few times, but they made it to the Edmonton Hu­mane Society safe­ly, Rossing said.

Officers first thought the stray was a tor­toise named Leaf­y who’s been mis­sing since 2009. In­stead, a dif­fer­ent fam­ily iden­ti­fied him as Tucker and col­lect­ed him Tues­day mor­ning, hu­mane so­ci­ety spokes­wom­an Jocelyn Wady said.

While Tucker is the so­ci­ety’s first tor­toise in at least three years, tortoise society founder Dave Law said he re­ceives at least three calls a week about tur­tles and tor­toises that need res­cu­ing.

And sulcata tor­toises are fre­quent es­capees, he said.

“Those are one of the hardest-to-keep-in tor­toises,” Law said.

These tor­toises — which can grow to 150 pounds — are the “rep­tile equiva­lent of a cow,” he said. They’re nat­ur­al­ly driv­en to walk miles to find food. With their leg spurs, they can plow through dry wall, crack floors and dig under fen­ces — and quick­ly.

“They can move when they want to move, and if you aren’t pay­ing at­ten­tion, they’ll be gone be­fore you know it,” Law said.

“They’re not try­ing to run away. They’re try­ing to do what they’re pro­grammed to do.”

They can be sold as toon­ie-sized in­fants, but quick­ly grow, mak­ing them an often-aban­doned pet, Law said.

Rossing said he’s glad Tucker’s fam­ily found him with­in a day.

“Know­ing now that he’s one of the faster tor­toises out there, it’s priv­il­eged to know we are able to stay caught up with such a mar­vel­lous crea­ture,” Rossing said.