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Will1983

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Hi, just found this forum as I was looking for help, the missus found a tortoise wandering around our back garden yesterday and the kids think it’s the best thing ever.
We r based in the North East of England so was quite surprised to find a tortoise wandering around in March.
I’m here to learn as much as I can to care for this tortoise so we could keep this as a family pet, currently we know nothing about tortoises but with the help of this forum that is about to change.
 

Ink

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Please post a picture of the tortoise to get the help. Welcome to the forum
 

Alex and the Redfoot

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Hello and welcome!

As I can guess, you've found an adult Russian tortoise aka Horsfields tortoise. Most likely he (or she) is an escapee or may be have been "released" into the wild by previous keeper. I think you should try to ask neighbours, probably someone's missing him.

Some adjustments are needed in his "enclosure":
1. He needs some proper substrate to burrow and walk, 3-4 inches. You may buy some coco coir, orchid bark or cypress mulch or can get some dirt from your yard (without pesticides, herbicides and non-sandy). Dirt isn't a good option in a long term, but is better than slippery plastic floor.
2. His diet is mostly leafy greens and weeds. No fruit. Dandelions, broad leaf plantain, clover and others. Out of grocery store foods you can choose endive, kale, radicchio, collard greens, mustard greens, rocket salad and more. Bagged salads like "Spring Mix" are fine too. The more variety - the better. Most lettuces have low nutritional value, but good for the hydration.
3. Tortoises coming from a winter sleep usually a bit dehydrated, you can give your tortoise a warm bath: lukewarm water, opaque plastic container, water up to a level where top and bottom shell meet, 10-20 minutes, keep water warm.

The post below is a great start in tortoise keeping, I would certainly recommend to read it to better understand their needs and requirements:
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/info-for-new-people-please-read-this-first.202363/ (at the end of that post there is a Temperate species care sheet with more details on keeping Russian tortoises).

Please, ask any questions you might have.
 

wellington

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First thing you need to do is try to find it's owner. After a persistent attempt at that, and it's owner is not found, then it's yours to keep.
Russians are great escape artist. It either was left to brumate outside or it brumated before the owners could find it. Then is woke from winter and escaped.
Post signs, look on local neighborhood websites, call any local vets and rescues to see if anyone is looking for it.
 

Will1983

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Thanks for the advice, we have tried all the neighbours and tried all the local fb sites and so on looking for anyone searching for a missing tortoise but no luck, we will keep trying but will look after it until the owner is found
 

Ink

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Maybe @zolasmum might know of other places to look at regarding lost tortoise.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome!

Russian tortoises are pretty cold hardy, so it's not surprising to find him in March. Of course, my weather here in Central California is quite different from yours, but my Russians are waking up from brumation now too.
 

TammyJ

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Hello and welcome to the forum. Please, carefully follow the very good and important advice you have been given as to the care of this tortoise. He has been kept too dry, and needs lots of warm soaks to begin with. I hope you end up keeping him yourself, since you are now with us and can learn all the best ways to have a happy tortoise!
 

MaNaAk

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Hi, just found this forum as I was looking for help, the missus found a tortoise wandering around our back garden yesterday and the kids think it’s the best thing ever.
We r based in the North East of England so was quite surprised to find a tortoise wandering around in March.
I’m here to learn as much as I can to care for this tortoise so we could keep this as a family pet, currently we know nothing about tortoises but with the help of this forum that is about to change.
Welcome to the forum @Will1983!

I'm in Essex and I have an 88 year old Greek Spur-thighed Tortoise who is currently in an enclosure with a temperature of 28 degrees Celsius during the today and 20 degrees Celsius at night. Please could you post a picture of your tortoise. Jacky did fridge and she was brought just over a week ago. I kept her at room temperature for a week but unless you have a spare room this wouldn't be possible for you so you may need to think about an enclosure or a heated conservatory like @zolasmum has until the weather warms up. When the weather warms up I put Jacky out during the day and bring her in at night and put her in the pet carrier. Believe us a picture of Jacky in her enclosure:IMG20240316103237.jpg
 

MaNaAk

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Just seen the picture and a Russian is quite different so I suggest that you phone a vet (Jacky is with Medivet) who can tell you if the tortoise has a microchip. They can also give you a care sheet.

MaNaAk
 

Tom

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Just seen the picture and a Russian is quite different so I suggest that you phone a vet (Jacky is with Medivet) who can tell you if the tortoise has a microchip. They can also give you a care sheet.

MaNaAk
The micro chip advice is great, but the care sheet from the vet is likely going to be full of all sorts of wrong info. I have yet to see one that isn't.
 

Sarah2020

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Definatly an escapee! As suggested please try local vet and add a note at a local corner shop and lampposts and do a letterbox drop with no pictures as any claimant must provide proof it's theirs. If you look carefully there will be a unique scute that could be a match to any photo proof or proof of a local house address! Please keep it fed, warm and watered and hope you find it's owner. They are known as escape artists. I expect it was brumating, woke up and wandered to you.
A good thing to do is to soak it in warm shallow water for about 30 mins to hydrate, clean and it may relive itself!
 
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TammyJ

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Anyone who claims that it's theirs should be asked for proof. In any case, the tortoise was not given the proper care.
 

Lyn W

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Thanks for the advice, we have tried all the neighbours and tried all the local fb sites and so on looking for anyone searching for a missing tortoise but no luck, we will keep trying but will look after it until the owner is found
Don't give too much information out or post pics on social media. If anyone claims it ask them for pictures or marks that will prove it's theirs. Sadly there are people out there who will take free torts to sell on so let them provide the proof.

Meanwhile if you haven't already found it read through this to find out about lights, temps and heating, diet, enclosure size and substrate etc.
https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/info-for-new-people-please-read-this-first.202363/

There is a caresheet for Mediterranean/temperate torts included in it which covers Russian, Greek and Hermann torts etc

Tortoise care has really improved thanks to places like this forum, so make this your only source of advice to avoid all the old and incorrect information still being passed around.
 

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