The Great Escaper

I’ve been feeling guilty about Buster the tortoise who hasn’t gotten near enough porch/outdoor time this summer. What with our vacation and now painting the house (and the fact that frankly Buster’s low-maintenance aspects make it easy to forget about her) she just hasn’t gotten out and about all that often of late.

So yesterday in the backyard I concocted an outdoor pen of about 30 square feet bordered by old fence posts and river rocks. Knowing what excellent escape artists Russian tortoises are I came out and checked on her after plopping her into the expansion of territory.

Did she even pretend to enjoy the change of scenery and the increased space? Hell no. All she wanted to do was get the hell on the outside of all my hard and well-intentioned work, and sure enough not even 30 minutes after being placed there I came out to find her outside the perimeter. Just sitting there, having left no clue as to how she’d gotten out so quickly.

Upon examination I concluded that she’d managed to haul herself up and over one of the river rocks on the west wall that was sitting at a scalable angle. In response I put her back in and rearranged that entire stretch of rocks, eliminating an further breach of that section.

Maybe another 40 minutes later I’m on the phone with Susan and I’m telling her about Buster’s first bust and I look out the back door and dangit if this time she’s not only on the outside again, but now she’s marching toward the walkway about halfway to where I’m standing. Dropping her back in there, this time I camp out and surveil the situation and it’s not long before she’s back at the next weak spot this time on the north wall and stretching and clamboring and eventually pulling herself back atop the boundary before I intervene. This time I scoop out all the accumulated mulch layering the ground inside the perimeter (a good couple inches worth) and then put down a layer of brick upon which I then set the river rocks atop. All told the north wall’s now about 4-5 inches higher and basically insurmountable to Buster.

But did that stop her? Nope. This time she attacked the east wall. But being that it’s even taller than the north wall, she did what any self-respecting tortoise would do: she started digging. I’m not sure if she was trying to tunnel through or just hallow out a cubby for the approaching night but when she’d stopped digging she was almost three-quarters under the beam above her and when I went to bring her inside she’d jammed herself in there so good that I had to tip over the prone post and all the river rocks topping it just to extricate her. And of course I mashed my left ring finger between two of the boulders during the process.

Reptiles, man. Jeez! But we’re giving it another go, today, like so:

[larger version here]

UPDATED (5:01 p.m.): Dang if I didn’t go out and find Buster’d scaled the northwest corner — again! Despite my addition of a brick underlayment to the river rock, the dang critter will not be contained! Observe:



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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."