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Turtles/My Russian Tortoise died

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Question
Just yesterday. We had her for 8 years. I would estimate she was almost 15 years old. I am really bummed. I would like to bury her and be able to retrieve her shell as a keep sake eventually. Should I put her in a box or directly in the earth? Any idea how long it might take for her to reach heaven? :>(

Answer
Hi Len,

I apologize for the delay.  I actually posted a response several days ago, but for some reason it didn't show up.  I'm so sorry for the loss of your tortoise.

I have never preserved a shell, so I can't tell you for sure how to do it, but don't bury it in the ground because the shell will come apart.  I'm afraid I can't answer your question about heaven definitively, but if there is a place in heaven for tortoises, I'm sure they reach it quite soon after they pass.

Although pet store Russian tortoises in the US are wild caught, and therefore can't be aged accurately (you need a hatch date to determine age), you'd probably know if she was very old, because her shell would be very worn.  15 isn't old at all for a Russian tortoise.  Were there any symptoms beforehand?  If you would like help determining what might have gone wrong, please post back with information on how you had her setup (enclosure, lights, substrate, diet, etc.) and any symptoms you noticed, and I'll do my best to help you figure out what could have happened.  And again, I'm so sorry for the lost of your pet.  

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Jeannie

Expertise

Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.

Experience

I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

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My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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