With rains like we’ve had lately, it’s important to check your tortoise burrows for puddles or flooding. Keep checking for several days, as flooding may occur after the rain has stopped when rain in the top and surrounding soil drains into the burrow channel.
If it is cloudy or nighttime, use a very powerful flashlight. Lie on a drop cloth or tarp. Unless the burrow channel turns and the end is out of sight, you should be able to see the tortoise and any puddles.
Also, try sliding down the burrow a long stick or hose with a piece of medium-colored cloth attached. If it comes out wet, you’ll want to dig up the tortoise.
Digging Up the Burrow
Here’s a way to get to your tortoise without removing all the heavy, wet soil on top of the burrow.
- Looking from the top of the burrow, locate where you think the tortoise is
- Move beyond the side of the burrow about one foot
- Dig a vertical shaft to the depth of the tortoise (2′ or so)
- Now dig horizontally through the burrow wall into (hopefully) the channel. A peek should let you see or feel the tortoise if the soil has not collapsed. You might not recognize the tortoise if it’s covered with mud.
- Remove the tortoise, remove the soils from the body carefully, and pour water over the head to wash away mud from the neck and eyes.
- For each tortoise, get a cardboard box large enough that the tortoise can turn around easily. Before you go on, look up our brumation info to outfit the rest of box.
In an emergency, Tortoise Group can use its video camera to try to locate the tortoise or determine if the burrow has collapsed. Contact Us with any questions…