Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New HUGE female Russian tortoise

Getting another Russian tortoise really wasn't part of my plan... but then I met Lady, the XXL-sized female Testudo horsfieldi. Before seeing her in person I had no idea she was this big. She comes with an interesting story - more about that below (for those of you who are interested). We named her Lady, short for Lady Liberty, because she was found roaming free.

That's right. She weighs 1076g... and is actually a little skinny!
When I first brought Lady home and weighed her before soaking her, she looked dehydrated and weighed 1014g (The picture above is of her hydrated weight!). I soaked her (she drank and drank!), fed her (she ate an entire HUGE dandelion plant, some dead-nettle, and some wild geranium , and put her under the heat lamp. She spent the rest of the day dozing under the warm light.

Lady, chowing down on a pile of weeds
This morning when I weighed her again after her soak, she weighed a whopping 1076g. I did a double-take, checked my scale, and weighed again. Yep 1076g was right. Originally, I was planning just to foster her, but considering her magnificent size, I just can't let her go. She's in quarantine for 6 months, but will get a partition of the outdoor enclosure, and by winter I'll have built her a nice big indoor enclosure, too. She's too big to share with the others, but next Spring I plan to introduce our male to her for a little honeymooning.

Lady, basking - I wonder how long it's been since she was warm?

Now her story:
I saw a post on Craigslist that a tortoise had been found wandering on the street. The finder was looking for the previous owner. Mind you, we live in the cold, rainy Pacific Northwest. I sent the woman a message stating that this certainly was not one of mine, but that I could care for it for her, and if it was female keep it, otherwise find a good home (after de-worming and ensuring it was healthy). The finder said she would wait first to see if someone answered her ad or the papers she hung around the neighborhood. Then on Sunday evening I got a message from her stating that the old owner did indeed contact her, but that this person was very rude and had stated that she had purposefully set the tortoise free so it could "live more happily in the wild." *WTH?* The finder had the presence of mind to offer finding a new home for the tortoise... so she offered it to me. I asked her for some pics, and this was obviously a female (stubby wedge shaped tail), but the I couldn't tell how big she was.

When I got to the finder's house and saw the tortoise, I did a double-take, because this tortoise was SO BIG. She is 7+ inches, and almost as wide as she is long. I expected her to be longer when I measured her, because she looks so big and heavy, but a lot of her weight comes from her width - my guess is that she is of the Kazachstani subgroup.

Interestingly, for all the previous neglect, her shell is actually in good shape, and so is her beak. She has some wear on her plastron, and I did treat a few spots of shell rot. The old owner just let her wander the yard all Summer, and kept her in a box or something during the winter. But at least she got real UV and good weeds to eat during the warm season. She was dehydrated when I got her, but overall seems to be healthy. And have I mentioned that she is huge?

Lady, all clean after a soak, with a VS card for size comparison.
In case you are wondering why she is on brown paper bags, she has worms, so I'm treating her with Panacur. As soon as she is all clear, she will get wonderful, soft coconut coir to burrow in!

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