|Updated: 6/13/2012 9:09 am
||Published: 6/12/2012 5:49 pm
A giant tortoise was found wandering and grazing its way through a west Tulsa neighborhood Sunday. Kevin, as he's been named, is an African Spur-Thigh Tortoise. He appears to be about 18 years old and weighs around 50lbs.
"[He was] walking yards," Reginald Murray, owner of Oklahoma Wildlife Control, LLC., said. "They said it was actually grazing their grass, which would make sense. It's a vegetarian."
Residents in the neighborhood called Murray to pick Kevin up, after he ate a trail through several yards.
"I didn't have any trouble catching it at all," Murray said. "I had a hard time pulling it up out of the ground, though. She was wanting to bury in and she's pretty stout, good claws."
"That's more than likely what happened to this guy: he did belong to somebody and got out of somebody's backyard," Karri Murphy, Director of Safari's Sanctuary Exotic Animal Rescue, said.
At first, Murray thought Kevin was a female since it's hard to tell the gender of a tortoise, but the Murphy and the folks at Safari's Sanctuary, where Murray brought Kevin, set him straight.
But Murray was alarmed by all Kevin appears to have gone through in his life.
"Her shell is crushed in," Murray said. "Looked like a tire strike that separated one of her side plates from the belly plate on her left side."
The shell also shows signs of being dropped when Kevin was younger, and deformities likely cause by poor nutrition when he was a baby.
Murphy said such problems are common when exotic tortoises are cared for by people who don't know enough about the animals.
"They don't always make the greatest pets," she said. "That's why we have four right now."
"They dig out of people's yards. You have to have proper fencing. They like to dig holes."
"In my opinion, the majority of people that take an exotic as a pet don't know what the true care for it will be; that they'll turn them loose," Murray said.
African Spur-Thigh Tortoises are the largest mainland tortoises in the world. Their natural habitat is on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Africa. They've been known to live more than 100 years, and can grow to weigh up to 200lbs.
Kevin's shell appears to have a phone number carved into it, but the numbers have faded too much to read. But anybody who knows where Kevin might be missing from is asked to call Safari's Sanctuary.