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What to Do When Your Tortoise or Turtle Runs Away From Home


Ever lost a turtle? A wandering turtle can be very stressful on family life, especially if you have young children. It is a traumatic, unforgettable and devastating experience that could impact your kids for years to come. Should your turtle ever go a-wandering, this is what to do:

Run around your neighborhood. Try to get the whole family to do it, but don’t lose any of your family because they are more important than the turtle.

Realize how fast a turtle can travel. The average turtle can walk at 3-4 miles an hour, so if it’s been 3 hours since you last saw your turtle, he could be up to 12 miles away.

Chances are your turtle hasn’t gone very far, just to the nearest lettuce leaf.


Make friends with your neighbors. Many times it is your neighbors who will find the turtle taking a nice warm shower in their private pond so make friends with them and maybe they’ll return your turtle instead of making some delicious turtle soup.

Prior to losing your turtle make a mark on the turtle so you know how to identify him. If you find a wandering turtle you’ll want to know if it’s your turtle. Don’t use lead based paint to mark your turtle.

Check near water. Turtles like water so find the nearest pond and make sure your turtle isn’t nearby.

Keep a wheelbarrow handy for when you find the turtle. Turtles are very heavy to carry home.

Once the turtle is home, forgive him (or her, you never can tell). He will not know he’s home and will never be your best friend, if you want a best friend, get a dog.

If you want to treat your turtle because you are happy to see him again, feed him snails.

If your turtle is lost forever, just buy a new one. You won’t notice the difference and neither will your children.

If a live turtle is too stressful, consider a crystal turtle or a stuffed turtle. They are much less work and won’t run away.



skye on September 24, 2020:

Please help me find my tortoise it’s gone for a day and it’s old and a bit brown if u found it please tell me

Theresa Marie on September 20, 2020:

Is this a JOKE?



Benok on July 24, 2020:

If your turtle is lost forever, just buy a new one. You won’t notice the difference and neither will your children. No effin' way that is an option that is very rude. I lost my best friend and if I buy a new one I wouldn't tell the difference? He's the best buddy I only want to be with. He's so important to me and I never want a new one.

Jackie Wilson on June 23, 2019:

Our 6 year old Sulcata Tortoise, Leo, escaped our fenced yard on May 23rd. Today, June 23rd, we got him back! Social media was the trick. So many people were looking for him. His return became a community focus. We live in Mt Pleasant,SC in the subdivision Dunes West. He was located about 14 miles away on Daniel Island, SC. It was a miracle we got him back.

Almast on December 09, 2018:

In miss my turtle so much it has been 3hours and reading that it could be 12miles is that it passed.the freeway already and it could be anywhere even dead because of the freeway she was everything to me I loved her so much

Aspen on September 28, 2018:

My tortoise is 11yrs old and a pretty hefty size, buying a new one is not possible, and we would all know the difference

Olga on August 29, 2018:

We did not find it

Lala on August 10, 2018:

Just need to say that this was very helpful. My husband and I lost my sons tortoise and the guilt is real. Odd accident. For me it helps that others have too, and the lighthearted facts about how they wont know they are home or away. Thank you

Darine on August 04, 2018:

My turtle ran away and non of these reason can help

anonymous on June 15, 2018:

PLEASE HELP i lost my eastern box turtle last night and I have no clue where he is

Adrianna on May 28, 2018:

Wow thanks if I loose him but a new one thankyou this tortoise I lost is my best friend and I’m not gonna go and buy a new one yes what you say is nice but you are actually being kind rude

Kiryu on March 28, 2012:


Whitney from Georgia on April 14, 2010:

Great hub!

I worked with someone who raised Sulcata tortoises. She gave a friend of hers on of her adults. Well, it got out of the yard one day, and they searched for ever for the tortoise. They searched all around the neighborhood. You wouldn't think a large tortoise would be hard to find, but they never found it. Well, a few days or a week or so later (I forget the time frame), someone came up to her at work (we worked at a pet store), and told her they found a large turtle and needed to know what to feed it. She asked what it looked like and about how large. She knew it was hers. They arranged to meet when she got off so she could pick up her 100+ pound tortoise and put it back in its rightful yard. The tortoise had traveled nearly across town from its original escape-point.

I had someone on one of my hubs mention they found a Russian tortoise, but figured because no one in her neighborhood had reported a missed tortoise, they would just keep it. I tried to explain that tortoises can travel a good distance, even small tortoises.

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