Cassidy Graham says Speedy, her 25-pound red-foot tortoise, loves to have his shell scratched and usually follows her and her family around their backyard.
Problem is, Speedy hasn’t been seen for a while after making a daring escape from the Graham family home near Shawnee Twin Lakes.
Graham said Speedy, who had run of a fenced-in area, made his dash to freedom when their horses “pulled the fence up enough for him to scoot under.”
Speedy, who is native to the South American rainforests, was born in captivity and is 13 years old. Red-foot tortoises can live up to 30 to 50 years, while some can live to be 100 years old, Graham said.
“He’s very gentle — he likes to have his shell scratched,” Graham said, adding Speedy loves attention and playing in the water. “He’s just not very cuddly.”
Speedy went missing in June, but the last reported sighting came about one-fourth mile from the family home at the beginning of July. They’ve put out fliers, turned to the Internet and have even gone door-to-door, but there’s been no recent sightings of Speedy.
But Graham said she’s not surprised. With his dome-shaped shell, and a knack for using it to camouflage himself in the dirt, grass or brush, it’s no surprise Speedy can easily hide from those searching for him.
“He likes to hide in dark spaces, under leaves or bushes," she said.
With recent rains, and plenty of food for him to forage, Graham said Speedy is probably doing fine on his own.
At home, he would normally eat lettuce and fruits and vegetables. With gardens and wild blackberries, Graham suspects Speedy is finding food, although she said tortoises like him can go up to 10 days without food or water.
During the warm months at home, Speedy lives in a 10-foot-by-10-foot enclosure, where he enjoys spending time with the family’s rabbits, in his pool, or near a mister.
“He stays with the rabbits — he gets along with them,” Graham said.
During the winter, Speedy stays in the house and enjoys being in a large bathtub. That’s because turtles like him can’t handle the cold Oklahoma winters.
“If they hibernate, they won’t wake up,” she said, adding anything under 50 degrees for more than a night or two can prove deadly for the reptile.
Because of that, Graham figures if they have trouble locating Speedy, he’ll be okay until maybe October, but obviously the goal is to find him sooner rather than later.
Page 2 of 2 - Graham said they’re trying to keep optimistic thoughts and they’re not panicking yet.
She’s also comforted in knowing that Speedy is too big for other wild animals to bother him.
“He’s too big for coyotes —he’s not the type of animal they’d mess with,” she said.
Graham, who has had Speedy about two years, formed a bond with him years before that as she worked at a sanctuary where he was housed. When that facility closed, she was able to keep him.
“I fell in love with him,” she said.
And while it might be in Speedy’s nature to be curious about other areas besides his backyard, Graham said recently they’ve had smaller turtles visit, so it’s possible Speedy is in search of a companion.
The family lives in the area of SH 102 between Belcher Road and Clearpond Road, she said, so they believe Speedy is still in that area.
And while tortoises aren’t typically very fast, Speedy gets his name a bit honestly.
“He’s actually quick enough he can go 20 yards in five minutes,” Graham said. “If you turn your back on him, he’ll be gone.”
Graham has contacted all the neighbors, the game wardens, animal control and others to be on the lookout for Speedy.
“I just want to know he’s safe,” she said.
Anyone with information about Speedy can contact Graham by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Graham said she checks it frequently.
Watch for any updates.