How to attach a bright colorful string to your pet tortoise to keep track of her wanderings.
Answer- Velcro and yarn
Tortoises are wonderful, mischievous, and bizarre. Our russian tortoise resides primarily in a simple 10 gallon tank with bedding and a feeding end. We try to make up for her lack of space in her tank by letting her roam about the house a couple of times a day. We also enjoy bringing her to the park or the yard of our apartment complex to let her explore the world and get some sunshine.
We like letting our tortoise roam about the house and usually keep a good eye, but invariably she manages to sneak off and we spend hours playing hide-and-seek trying to find out where she went. We even had a 4 foot tall fenced in garden that she escaped numerous times, and we didn't realize how, until we caught her in the act (see pictures). The Russian tortoise is apparently a trained escape artist, very fast moving, really well camouflaged and good at burrowing. We need a solution where we can let her have fun, but still make sure she is safe and that we can find her.
Goal - Maximize tortoise freedom while keeping her safe and locatable
I was so intrigued by what made the tortoise do what she did, that I did a study and visualization of her movements through my apartments called "The Tortoise Tracker" (digital version). Afterward I realized a method for being able to simply follow her whereabouts without the aid of multiple camera arrays.
So follow along, and I can show you one quick way of letting your tortoise have fun and explore the world while still being able to find her at the end of the day! Tortoise freedom now! -but with a really long leash
- I am not responsible for lost tortoises, or anything else bad that may happen to your poor pet, this is just a fun idea to try at your own will, you should still keep a watchful eye upon your pet at all times.
- If you are a person who gets super upset about people painting or gluing things on their tortoises shell, you might still get super angry at me, but i tried to design the system such that it causes minimum discomfort for her and everything is 100% non-permanent (water soluble adhesives). Plus it will probably cause less discomfort having a tiny sticker on her back than if she gets accidentally stepped on because she snuck off somewhere and went invisible.
Step 1: Alternate Prior Designs
Originally we would put shiny stickers on her back, to help distinguish her from the grass that she would be roaming around in. These would stay on quite well, and not interfere with her movement at all. She still managed to sneak away quite often however.
Making a little tactical suit for your tortoise is super tricky, especially because they have retractable limbs and don't like sitting in your lap while you try to get measurements. In the past I have made harnesses from cardboard (bad), duct tape (alright), bendable wire (alright). In general harnesses are super difficult to create, put on, and take off the tortoise.
Those soft, velcro cord organizers (http://cableorganizer.com/wire-wrap/) were the best things that I have seen for quickly constructing a nice harness. Generally harnesses are OK for a temporary situation, but inevitably the tortoise will find some way out of the harness or get herself caught.
Making your tortoise appear physically taller can help to locate it, but unfortunaltey prevents the poor creature from crawling underneath things which is probably one of its favorite activities.
The most failed attempt at tortoise visibility was attaching a bouquet of balloons to her. Mostly she did not like wearing the rudimentary harness to which the balloons attached, but the other problem was that when the wind blew, it could actually blow the balloons around and tip the poor tortoise over. I was kind of cool seeing the bundle of balloons navigate around the apartment and park. Here is a video dramatization of what could happen with such a system: