Can a 2-year-old Leopard Tort Survive 55 Degrees Outside for 12+ Hours?

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Aristotle

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All of you Leopard Experts - I really need your help asap! My son has a 2-year-old leopard tort who stays with him at his dad's house. The standard of care is not very high (I have offered countless times to help, without success). I just learned that the tort (Slader) was outside in the backyard all day, and now they can't find him. We live in LA, and the sun has just set. Slader was not in an enclosure, and the backyard is pretty large, but I believe it is fenced all around. My son (11-years-old) is quite upset, and I tried to reassure him by saying that Slader probably has buried himself to sleep and stay warm. (I don't know if that's true or not as I have a baby greek tort and I know that she likes to be buried most of the day/night; but I don't know if Leopards engage in the same behavior).

So here are my questions:
1. Was I wrong in my statement to my son that Slader probably buried himself?
2. Is it possible that Slader can get through the night okay? Tonight's low in my part of LA is 55 degrees, and tomorrow's high is only 68 degrees (same as today). It was sunny today, but a bit cold (by LA standards), so I'm worried that Slader was cold even during the day, and thus the overnight temperature drop may be problematic.

I can't answer detailed questions about the backyard, the type of fence, or whether other animals were in the backyard with Slader. I am trying to get those details now.

I would be most grateful for any advice, similar experiences, etc. you can provide, so I can be more educated and prepared as this situation unfolds.

Thanks very much!

Best,
Kristina
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I would guess that the tortoise is buried somewhere in the yard. It is too young in my opinion to be left outside at all for any length of time, day or night. It is too cold for such a young animal and he will/might come out of this with an URTI. If you find it. I'm guessing it's cold and all covered up and is gonna stay too cold and covered up until the sun shines warm. Then it will come out with the Resp Infection...

Can't you send a care sheet over there?
 

Tom

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Yes they can survive that for a night. Just make sure he gets good and warm when you find him tomorrow. It might also help to shut the sprinklers off over night to keep it a little dryer. They will sometimes "dig in" a bit for security, but its likely that he's stuffed into the base of a bush or plant back there. How big is he?
 

Aristotle

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Thanks Tom and Maggie. I feel a little less freaked out. Tom - I haven't spent a lot of time with Slader, so I'm not sure of his exact measurements. He is a bit larger than Ari (my greek baby) - she is about 3 1/2 inches (the measurement of the underneath shell - I forgot what it's called right now as I'm still a bit freaked out), and she weighs about 4 1/2 ounces). So maybe Slader is 5-6 inches? I have no idea about his weight.

I mentioned the horrible care the little guy is getting - rabbit pellet bedding, no source of humidity, filthy glass enclosure. He is pyramiding, and according to my daughter (15-years-old) Slader often blows bubbles out of his nose. It just kills me not to be able to do anything to help!! Given these facts, I'm afraid he may not get through this night. :(
 

Tom

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If he's already sick (nose bubbles), a cold night outside will not be a good thing for him. Time to get out the flashlights. Are there dogs or other animals back there? This sounds like a disaster in the making...
 

Neal

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It's unlikely that he has buried himself somewhere. He's probably underneath something or wedged in between something, those things will get into the weirdest places and just park it there for long periods of time. For a healthy leopard (I'm guessing in the four inch range), one night at 55 wouldn't do any harm, but it sounds like he's not in such great shape.
 

Aristotle

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Tom said:
If he's already sick (nose bubbles), a cold night outside will not be a good thing for him. Time to get out the flashlights. Are there dogs or other animals back there? This sounds like a disaster in the making...

That's what I am afraid of. According to my ex there was a rabbit in the yard with Slader today, but right now there are no other animals out in the yard, although they do have dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and snakes (which I assume are all in the house). Would/could a rabbit harm a tortoise?

Unfortunately I can't just show up with a flashlight and search the backyard. My relationship with my ex and his new wife is a bit strained. But I will email him and tell him that it would be best if he kept searching, using a flashlight - and I'll offer to help.

Do you think any part of Slader's shell will be visible? I know when Ari buries herself she is completely covered.

Thanks.
 

sunshade

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As long as the backyard is fenced well, the tortoise must be hiding in the base of bush or back of plants or any objects available there. Mine hides everywhere - in/behind/under a bush, trash can, garden tool box, bbq grill, . . . Etc. I live in LA area, and it seems 55 is ok for adult torts, but I put my tort (adult)into a small outdoor enclosure when it's below 50 or when it rains. :)
 

Aristotle

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Thanks Sunshade. That helps a lot. I have been given permission to help search tomorrow morning when I pick up my son before school. I hinted about going over to search the yard tonight, but no dice. I will keep praying, and thinking positively. My son will be crushed if anything happens to Slader.
 

Tom

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Even when hatchlings "dig in" they almost always have at least part of their shell exposed, so a bigger one like Slader ought to be almost entirely above ground. But like Neal said they will wedge themselves into the strangest, tightest places.

A rabbit is not too likely to mess with him, but don't the dogs go out and use the yard for pottying? This is another reason why I wouldn't just leave one that small loose in a yard. It needs a secure enclosure. Sounds like this tortoise might need to be "rescued" if your ex is not responsible enough to take proper care of it. I'm sorry you are having to go through this. It sounds like you are a good person just trying to do the right thing...
 
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Maggie Cummings

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Maybe this will be a good lesson for your son. If he cares so much for the tortoise he needs to take better care of it. I would provide a care sheet for your son and tell him to follow it and take better care of the tortoise...I don't mean any disrespect, I am just saying this might be a good lesson for him...
 

Aristotle

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Thanks Tom. I am beside myself with worry. My ex and his wife said that they searched "every inch" of the yard numerous times. I think I have pushed as hard as I can at this point.

I don't know about the dogs - for all I know they may not have them anymore. If they do, hopefully they can "hold it" overnight.

I hear you about putting Slader in a secure enclosure. This all drives me crazy because they DO have an enclosure to use - a really nice Zoo-Med triangular enclosure with no floor. I had assumed that whenever they brought him outside they had him in that enclosure. I have managed to hold my tongue and not ask whose brilliant idea it was to not use the enclosure.

This will be a very long night . . . Thanks for all the support and kind words. This forum has saved me so many times!!


maggie3fan said:
Maybe this will be a good lesson for your son. If he cares so much for the tortoise he needs to take better care of it. I would provide a care sheet for your son and tell him to follow it and take better care of the tortoise...I don't mean any disrespect, I am just saying this might be a good lesson for him...

Maggie - I totally agree! I have provided a care sheet to my ex, as well as offered to give him my extra Tortoise House fully set up (at my expense), AND to clean it out once a month. He needs to discuss it with his wife before he decides!!!

As for my son, like most 11-year-olds, he is not very responsible about caring for pets, and no one is making demands on him. I mention it a lot when he is with me, and he often watches what I do to care for my little greek, but I really can't influence what goes on at his dad's house. I agree that however this turns out, it will be a good lesson for EVERYONE involved!!!
 

DeanS

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Just a word of comfort...I hope! I let my youngsters have the run of the yard during the day...and two of them are under 3"...they can bury themselves in the tightest tufts of grass...that sometimes I will not see them, even when I know damn well where they are...;)
 

Aristotle

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DeanS said:
Just a word of comfort...I hope! I let my youngsters have the run of the yard during the day...and two of them are under 3"...they can bury themselves in the tightest tufts of grass...that sometimes I will not see them, even when I know damn well where they are...;)

Thanks Dean. That helps a lot. I'm just praying that Slader is (relatively) warm and secure wherever he is hiding. I will post an update tomorrow. Good night.

Best,
Kristina
 

onarock

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As far as husbandry technique goes with your ex huspand... that might be advice better accepted from someone other than the ex-wife, if you know what I mean. Have your son point him the way to better info. As far as a rescue goes, thats a bit extreme, there is still time for the father to become better educated. I wouldnt worry about night time temp at this point, but if it only gets into the 60s tomorrow another night in the 50s or 60s wont be good. Just make sure that little one gets some heat when hes found.
 

John

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If there's a rabbit in the yard that may mean there is a rabbit hole also, I would suspect that at that temp he will stay put, but in the a.m. I would look in the first areas of the yard the sun hits, he will find the sun regardless of outdoor temps.
 

yagyujubei

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I have a small outside pen for a 6" leopard. The grass in there is no more than 6" deep. The pen is 4x8. I will put her in there, and 5 minutes later, I swear she's gone. She's right there, of course, but just a couple blades of grass will break her outline, and the shell is very effective camoflage. She's never really buried, but invisible none the less. Don't rely only on your eyes to find it. You might have to feel around some. Look under all shrubs, high weeds, flowers etc... Good luck, I don't think that it has gone very far.

What about a "find my tortoise party? Your son must have nearby friends, like an Easter egg hunt.
 

Aristotle

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I just posted another thread with an update that Slader was found this morning, and as I write this he is soaking in warm water! :)
Thanks to all for your advice and comfort. It means the world to me!

Best,
Kristina
 

DeanS

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Great news...get him warm then start another thread...with tons of pictures!
 
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