Cruces animal shelter is host to exotic tortoise

An African spurred tortoise is a guest of the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley.

Doña Ana County

An African spurred tortoise, native to the Saharan desert of North Africa, is being housed temporarily at the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley (ASCMV) after he was picked up as a stray, according to shelter director Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock.

“He’s definitely one of our more unique guests,” said Vesco-Mock. “We’ve sheltered horses, goats, pigs and snakes, but this guy is a first.”

Since the tortoise was brought to the shelter on Monday, Vesco-Mock has been consulting with a professor in Ohio on its proper care and feeding until the rightful owner makes contact. “Obviously, this isn’t truly a stray tortoise. Someone has lost him, and we want to make sure he is returned home safely.”

For now, the tortoise’s daily routine is overseen by Curtis Herring, population supervisor at the ASCMV. “We had to do some research,” Herring said of the tortoise’s dietary needs, “to ensure he was getting the proper nutrition. So far, we know he likes a variety of fruits – papayas, bananas, mangoes – and he really likes escarole.”

Herring said the tortoise weighs 40 pounds, and the staff is unsure whether it is a male or female.

The daily charge for housing estranged pets at the shelter averages $12 a day, but in these circumstances, Vesco-Mock says that could change. “He’s a special guy, and we have certainly made some special accommodations for him. Not just anyone will be able to adopt him, and if its owner doesn’t claim him, we will ensure he goes to a proper home.”

If you have information on who might have lost their African spurred tortoise, you can call the ASCMV at (575) 382-0018.




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