A Sulcata tortoise found wandering the streets of Columbus, Ohio was minutes away from being euthanized when Dave “The Snake Guy” Sagan came to the rescue. The neglected and deformed 40-pound tortoise was taken to an Ohio wildlife event where the Hocking Valley Nature Center director just happened to be in attendance. Since Sulcatas are not native to Ohio, wildlife officials would have been forced to euthanize abandoned exotic animal.
Reptile rescues are few and far between in Ohio. The ones which do exist try extremely hard to help all unwanted exotic pets but are typically already full of discarded animals. Sagan, who is well-known for his snake and reptile educational events, stepped in to save the Sulcata.
Sagan, who is often referred to as the Jack Hanna of the reptile world, had this to say during an interview with The Inquisitr:
“He was literally two minutes from being put down. I was just in the right place at the right time. We are in the process of completing an outdoor turtle garden, so he could roam there while the weather permitted during the day, but housing him at night and throughout the winter was going to be a major hurdle. I looked down at the Sulcata and said, what the h**l am I going to do with you?”
The Hocking College professor went to Fish Stuff, a local pet store, in search of massive amounts of Mazuri to feed the gentle giant. Several days later, when my husband Bobby went into the store for Mazuri to feed our rescued Sulcatas, the owner told him they had sold out to Sagan, who was in dire need of a good home for the abandoned tortoise.
After several days of discussion about being able to adapt our indoor habitat to suit such a large male tort, we contacted Sagan and agreed to give the Sulcata a forever home. My tender-hearted husband reminded me that we can’t save them all. But he considered it fate that he walked into the pet store we had never gone to for Mazuri and was asked about giving Sagan’s tort a new home.
When my daughter Brea and I went to pick him up at the college, we were quite surprised about his condition. His shell was severely “pyramided” and had started to flatten in the back. People who see the adorable and tiny Sulcata hatchlings at pet stores are unfortunately often ignorant about proper husbandry practices and can get poor advice from the staff.
Although an adult can easily hold two hatchlings in the palm of their hand, they soon begin to grow, and grow, and grow. When Sulcatas do not have the proper humidity, heat, substrate, and diet, they become as unhealthy as our sweet, yet severely deformed, new addition.
The Tortoise Forum is an excellent source of accurate husbandry information for tortoise and turtle keepers. The information shared by expert keepers on the forum can mean the difference between life and death for the exotic animals. If thinking a Sulcata as a pet, please carefully consider the fact that they will reach around 100 pounds by adulthood. When cared for properly, they will outlive you. Brea is well on her way to becoming a teenage tort expert, so our brood will always have quality care.
Surviving on the harsh streets of the big city would require tenacity and grit, so we decided to name the rescued Sulcata Duke. He is settling in well at his new home and appears very grateful that he is no longer homeless and subjected to temperatures that surely would have killed him within days.