Well, I Lost All My Gulf Coast Box Turtles!

Sue Ann

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Mar 19, 2019
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277
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chapin , South Carolina
So this a.m. the phone rings and it's a neighbor from where I USED to live 25 years ago. He was driving down the street just south of me and saw a large turtle in a puddle. He left it there then went home and called me. I knew it would be gone by the time I got there, but I hopped in my truck and went looking for a turtle in a puddle.

I didn't bring my camera with me, darn it, but sure enough, there was a turtle in a puddle. And not just ANY turtle, but a Phrynops hillari. What are the chances of a Phrynops hillari being out in my neighborhood and it NOT being MY OWN turtle? Slim to none!

So I tossed her in the back of my truck and went home. I gave the fence around the pond a very close inspection, and all the RES and soft shells and pond turtles were very interested in what I was doing. So it appears none of them had escaped. This is the fence around the pond:
View attachment 291099
View attachment 291100 View attachment 291101
Most of it has a lip so they can't climb out, and none of the grass on the pond side was trampled. I was unable to see where she climbed out of the pond area. However, as I was walking past the gulf coast box turtle yard I saw this (picture taken from outside the fence:
View attachment 291098

The post is rotten and the nails had pulled out. I looked for any gulf coast box turtles and couldn't find a single one. I guess the lure of the wide open spaces was too much for them. But when I turned over their house, I found this:

View attachment 291104

So I lost three beautiful full grown gulf coast box turtles, found a lost Phrynops hillari (that I didn't know I lost) and replaced my box turtles with four new ones!

This is the foot long feeder gold fish that's left in the pond. That's just his head as he's eating floating pellets:

View attachment 291102

And here's the Phrynops before I put her back:

View attachment 291103

I'm really bummed I lost my gulf coast. Who knows how long they've been out. The sideneck was about a mile away and very dry, so she had been out for a very long time. Dang it anyway!
Wow Yvonne I did not know you had so many torts ! 🤩
 

LasTortugasNinja

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Also, keep an ear out on the police scanner... escaped turtles have a habit of wandering through mutagenic agents and turning into crime-fighting terrapins! lol ;)

All serious now... sucks it happens, but good that you found the babies so they can get a good, humid enclosure and a strong start to a long life. A friend of mine who had turtles in their yard pond as a kid only found out about the babies when crows were enjoying a baby turtle buffet. They counted 30 eggs in their garden, but recovered only 7 babies.
 

Teez

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Lake Worth Beach Florida
I, a long time ago, had several three toed box turtles and one by one they would escape and my next door neighbor would call me saying there is another turtle eating out of my cat's food dish....found them all one by one
 
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Yvonne G

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I neglected to update:

Two weeks ago my next door neighbor found a box turtle out in the very back of their acre property. Yup, it was one of my female gulf coasts.

Every morning when making my rounds, feeding, watering, cleaning up, I always look over the fence, hoping to see a box turtle. My lot is elevated about 10' above the street, and it's a 'cliff' down to the street. There are grape and berry vines along the top of the cliff. There are a couple 'tunnels' at ground level under the berry vine, but it's hard for me to get down and reach under. . . I digress.

So this a.m., as usual, I looked over the fence. WHAT??? Is that a box turtle? Yup, sure enough, it's the male. So now I have a male/female combo back home!!!

These turtles have lived in that yard/territory for about 20 years. It seemed unreasonable to me that they would stray far from their territory. And I guess I was right! I am so relieved. Now if only the last wanderer would come home.
 

Viola B

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Idaho Falls, Idaho
I neglected to update:

Two weeks ago my next door neighbor found a box turtle out in the very back of their acre property. Yup, it was one of my female gulf coasts.

Every morning when making my rounds, feeding, watering, cleaning up, I always look over the fence, hoping to see a box turtle. My lot is elevated about 10' above the street, and it's a 'cliff' down to the street. There are grape and berry vines along the top of the cliff. There are a couple 'tunnels' at ground level under the berry vine, but it's hard for me to get down and reach under. . . I digress.

So this a.m., as usual, I looked over the fence. WHAT??? Is that a box turtle? Yup, sure enough, it's the male. So now I have a male/female combo back home!!!

These turtles have lived in that yard/territory for about 20 years. It seemed unreasonable to me that they would stray far from their territory. And I guess I was right! I am so relieved. Now if only the last wanderer would come home.
What great news!
 

LasTortugasNinja

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That's awesome! Totally know what relief it is to get a pet back! My rosy boa got loose when she was a hatchling and was lost in the house for 2 months with no food - in the Utah winter!!! I was freaking out as well, since I was preparing to move 45 minutes away. Thankfully, 2 days before the close of escrow, my little gal slithered across the basement in front of me - scrawny, cold, and dehydrated - and I haven't let my teenage niece near her since (my niece left the cage lid open after handling)! LOL
 

Tom

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That's awesome! Totally know what relief it is to get a pet back! My rosy boa got loose when she was a hatchling and was lost in the house for 2 months with no food - in the Utah winter!!! I was freaking out as well, since I was preparing to move 45 minutes away. Thankfully, 2 days before the close of escrow, my little gal slithered across the basement in front of me - scrawny, cold, and dehydrated - and I haven't let my teenage niece near her since (my niece left the cage lid open after handling)! LOL
This is why my wife won't let me keep snakes in the house. EVERYONE who keeps them has escape stories. Everyone. My snakes have to live in the reptile room. And yes, one did get out one time. (I found it still in the room...)
 

LasTortugasNinja

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This is why my wife won't let me keep snakes in the house. EVERYONE who keeps them has escape stories. Everyone. My snakes have to live in the reptile room. And yes, one did get out one time. (I found it still in the room...)
So true. I'm insanely careful with my pets. My old house was 70+ years old and not snake-hatchling proof. She was so tiny she slipped right under the door and had two months of freedom. Again, it was January through February in UTAH! I was certain she was frozen dead. How it happened was my nieces were visiting, and my younger niece loves animals. My wife told her she was welcome to get the snake, coz we'd only had the snake for two weeks. I came home from work a few hours later, and went to do my rounds of feedings/temp checks/humidity checks and couldn't find the snake at all. My wife was certain my niece put her back. I went to the lid, and sure enough... the lid wasn't locked.

Fastforward 2 months... after a few days of recouping and warming under her basking light, I saw EXACTLY how the little sneak got out. She was light enough that she was able to climb her digital thermometer and then balance herself along the top to the corner and then even a tiny little snake can push up a lid easily, if it's not locked.

When my niece found out and we all thought the snake was dead, she was mortified and almost in tears. Since finding the snake alive and even 4 years later, my niece refuses to hold her. She'll talk to her through the glass, but that's it. She's been traumatized thinking she could have killed a pet.
 

Relic

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Sep 8, 2018
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325
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In the sunny south...
I neglected to update:

Two weeks ago my next door neighbor found a box turtle out in the very back of their acre property. Yup, it was one of my female gulf coasts.

Every morning when making my rounds, feeding, watering, cleaning up, I always look over the fence, hoping to see a box turtle. My lot is elevated about 10' above the street, and it's a 'cliff' down to the street. There are grape and berry vines along the top of the cliff. There are a couple 'tunnels' at ground level under the berry vine, but it's hard for me to get down and reach under. . . I digress.

So this a.m., as usual, I looked over the fence. WHAT??? Is that a box turtle? Yup, sure enough, it's the male. So now I have a male/female combo back home!!!

These turtles have lived in that yard/territory for about 20 years. It seemed unreasonable to me that they would stray far from their territory. And I guess I was right! I am so relieved. Now if only the last wanderer would come home.
The sole, driving, unrelenting, unexplainable, persistent, and overarching goal of every box turtle I've ever met is this: Trying to get to the other side of "the boundary" regardless of what the boundary is, or what might be on the other side. I think the only reason box turtles were ever deemed to have "home ranges" was because there were no boundaries present - just wide, open space to the far horizon. Find a wild box turtle, examine and carefully document his "home range," then erect a barrier at the edge of his range and he will spend the rest of his days trying to breach that boundary and see what's on the other side, when previous to the installation of the barrier, he had no interest in what lay beyond his "home range." I've had box turtles escape their pen, only to find them later trying to re-enter. They are a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, covered with a thick layer of enigma...
 

PJay

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Greater D.C. metro area
I neglected to update:

Two weeks ago my next door neighbor found a box turtle out in the very back of their acre property. Yup, it was one of my female gulf coasts.

Every morning when making my rounds, feeding, watering, cleaning up, I always look over the fence, hoping to see a box turtle. My lot is elevated about 10' above the street, and it's a 'cliff' down to the street. There are grape and berry vines along the top of the cliff. There are a couple 'tunnels' at ground level under the berry vine, but it's hard for me to get down and reach under. . . I digress.

So this a.m., as usual, I looked over the fence. WHAT??? Is that a box turtle? Yup, sure enough, it's the male. So now I have a male/female combo back home!!!

These turtles have lived in that yard/territory for about 20 years. It seemed unreasonable to me that they would stray far from their territory. And I guess I was right! I am so relieved. Now if only the last wanderer would come home.
The last wanderer is probably out there watching you make your rounds every day.
 
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
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Its a long shot but worth a try. Place some artificial things around your yard that boxies would natural try and use to hide or get out of the sun, It has worked for me in the past but not 100%. I keep my winter hibernation platform next to my enclose all summer and once when one got out, I placed this chamber out in the yard and by luck, about 2 months later, he was in there. Think 3 pieces of 2x6 12-18 inches or so nailed together with a small piece of plywood nailed on top. Other than that, you already know they are VERY active early on rainy mornings so look around then.
 

Sue Ann

Active Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2019
Messages
277
Location (City and/or State)
chapin , South Carolina
I neglected to update:

Two weeks ago my next door neighbor found a box turtle out in the very back of their acre property. Yup, it was one of my female gulf coasts.

Every morning when making my rounds, feeding, watering, cleaning up, I always look over the fence, hoping to see a box turtle. My lot is elevated about 10' above the street, and it's a 'cliff' down to the street. There are grape and berry vines along the top of the cliff. There are a couple 'tunnels' at ground level under the berry vine, but it's hard for me to get down and reach under. . . I digress.

So this a.m., as usual, I looked over the fence. WHAT??? Is that a box turtle? Yup, sure enough, it's the male. So now I have a male/female combo back home!!!

These turtles have lived in that yard/territory for about 20 years. It seemed unreasonable to me that they would stray far from their territory. And I guess I was right! I am so relieved. Now if only the last wanderer would come home.
So happy for you, and I bet the torts are happy to be home
 

Skip K

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Mar 4, 2020
Messages
54
Location (City and/or State)
Virginia
Sorry to hear the news about the escape. But keep checking regularly for your turtles. We have many rescue boxies among our herd. A neighbor kid once got into the enclosure a took one...played with it then just left it. The boxy came back to the enclosure from 2 yards away. Also had a water turtle ( eastern painted) given to us. I should have returned it to the lake immediately but decided to keep in a tub for a few days cause my kids wanted to keep it for a few days. Well I made a critical mistake and forgot about predators and the second day my son came in distraught saying the turtle was gone. I knew immediately what happened. We searched everywhere...many yards...to ease the hurt my son felt and then I lied to him and said he might come back so keep checking every day even though I knew there was zero chance after the raccoon got him. Well...2 days later...my son coming running in at dusk and said the turtle is back. It was a miracle I thought...till I got him inside. The raccoon had bitten off his half of his front two legs...a tooth puncture on top of the head...and multiple shell lacerations. When I asked where he found him...my son said at the location of the tub we kept him in FOR ONLY TWO DAYS. He had crawled back on stumps with exposed bone from wherever the raccoon left him. Because I was responsible for this...I formulated a specific rehab plan of attack...and incredibly the turtle healed up. So never give up hope of a return.
 
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