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Quick reunion for roaming tortoise

April E. Clark
Vail, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentAfter touring the neighborhood on her own, Mona the tortoise is now safely back home.
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS “For about 24 hours, Mona the tortoise had an adventure.

Two weeks ago, the frisky sulcata tortoise ” a reptile native to the African desert ” found a brief escape from her owner’s fenced-in Glenwood Springs backyard and went wandering.

Mona found shade in the yard of a neighbor, Heidi Barnett of Glenwood Park, before she took a ride with animal control to the Colorado Animal Rescue shelter.



And now she’s back home with her relieved owner, veterinarian Louise Marron.

“During the summertime, she lives in the yard and she somehow pulled the (wood fence) panels apart,” Marron said. “When she goes to sleep, she burrows, she digs in tight. She must have gotten under the panels and found an escape.”



Marron has owned Mona for about eight years, since she was studying veterinary medicine at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. A friend of a friend of a friend wanted to get rid of the tortoise, and Marron was intrigued.

“I kind of rescued her,” Marron said. “She’s really a great pet, the problem is she will grow to be about 80 pounds.”

Today, Mona weighs around 12 pounds. Marron’s not sure how old Mona was when she adopted her, but a vet at the time guessed about 1 to 2 years.



“She’s probably tripled in size since,” Marron said. “I estimate she gains about two to three pounds a year. She’s very active ” she moves around a lot.”

Sulcata tortoises aren’t the ideal pet to keep in Colorado, though, Marron said.

“Especially in this type of weather,” she said. “They have to be inside during the winter. We move her inside and outside a lot … She can’t tolerate temperatures below 60 degrees.”

Marron figures Mona was missing less than 24 hours. Not realizing she was roaming the neighborhood, Marron was tipped off to the tortoise’s possible whereabouts by a friend who saw Mona’s photograph in the newspaper.

Mona now has identification affixed to her shell in case she makes another escape. A microchip won’t work for the tortoise ” that might require anesthesia and temporary removal of her shell, which no vet would go for, Marron said.

Mona’s no shy female, Marron said. And dogs are this girl’s best friend.

“She loves dogs,” she said. “She runs over to them, and people, too, and sniffs their toes. She moves faster than you would think. She can really get truckin’.”


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