Twister, a 75 pound tortoise, vanishes from reptile center

Where is Twister the tortoise?That's the question an Idaho reptile rescue and education center is asking after...

Posted: Jul 25, 2018 2:25 PM
Updated: Jul 25, 2018 2:25 PM

Where is Twister the tortoise?

That's the question an Idaho reptile rescue and education center is asking after the 75 pound animal vanished Monday.

Twister is 30-35 years old and has a red, white, blue and yellow painted shell. He was donated to Reptile Adventures several months ago where he lived with 150 other animals.

Owner Tyler Messina recently took Twister and five other tortoises to his house so the reptiles could graze on grass and leaves.

"Every night I do my counts before we go to bed and he was there for roll call Sunday," Messina tells EastIdahoNews.com. "Monday he was gone and the only thing we can think of is that somebody took him. I don't know if somebody saw him from the sidewalk and just grabbed him but he's gone."

Messina says there aren't any holes in the fence surrounding the tortoises and no large burrows were found in the ground. Twister's five tortoise friends weren't touched and Messina has no idea where the popular reptile could be.

"We got Twister from a family that had him for 30 years. The original owners were getting older and the kids and grandkids weren't interested in keeping him," Messina says. "We use him to educate people about the dangers of painting tortoise shells and the public loved him."

Painting shells was common in the late 80's and early 90's, according to Messina, but the practice is unsafe.

Wildlife officials say paint can hinder the reptiles ability to absorb vitamins they need from the sun, cause respiratory problems, allow toxic chemicals into the bloodstream and more.

"He has survived close to 20 years with that paint on him. We tried to scrub it off without hurting him but it's on there for good," Messina says.

Reptile Adventures wrote about Twister on Facebook Monday and the post had been shared over 1,000 times by Wednesday morning.

Tortoises can live to be 100 years old and Messina hopes his reptile friend finishes out his long life back at home.

"We hope to get him home as soon as possible," Messina says.

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