Rescuers Save Tortoise Found Covered in Concrete in Florida

by Taylor Cunningham

A gopher tortoise “covered in concrete” was rescued and cleaned by the clever and patient staff at the Peace River Wildlife Center.

The reptile was found wandering through a Punta Gorda, Florida, neighborhood earlier this week. Pictures posted by the wildlife center on Nov. 17 show that it had a thick layer of concrete dried to its underside. Initially, workers had no idea how to remove to mortar without hurting the tortoise. They ultimately hatched a plan, however. And the tiny creature recently went back into the wild after a few days of recuperating.

“This little one came in covered in concrete! A house was being built next to where this gopher tortoise was found. And we believe it must have walked through the freshly poured concrete,” the center wrote in a caption. “We were able to carefully take off the ‘shell’ of concrete and our friend is good as new.”

“After some good nutrition and hydration, this gopher tortoise will be back out in the wild!” the post concludes.

Officials believe the tortoise is only a 6-month-old hatching. And it had only just left its mother when it walked through the construction zone.

Wildlife Workers Recently Re-Released the Threatened Tortoise

In the comments, the staff offered more details about how it managed to save the tortoise. Apparently, workers spent days “delicately chipping” the concrete off the animal’s shell. To do so, they used their fingernails because the “patient was so small and delicate.”

“We were able to carefully take off the ‘shell’ of concrete and our friend is good as new,” the center added.

Another update that was added to the same post shared that workers recently released the animal in “the same general area” it was found.

While wildlife workers believe all animals’ lives are worth saving, the gopher tortoise was particularly important because it is a threatened species.

The tortoise, which can grow to be 15 inches long, weigh 13 lbs, and live 70 years, is native to all of Florida’s 67 counties. But because of “habitat destruction” the population is waning. Biologists believe that only 700,000 remain in the wild. According to National Geographic, that number is less than a third of the size it was 100 years ago.

Since posting, the story has earned dozens of comments from people who are thankful for the center’s work and sad to see how constant construction in the state is affecting so many creatures like the tortoise.