Kansas family on a search to find their escaped pet tortoise

Local News

WICHITA, Kan. (KSN) — A Wichita man and his family is asking for help finding their ‘escape artist’ pet tortoise named Madmartigan. The tortoise, who lives in the family’s backyard, sneaked out sometime between late morning and early afternoon Monday using a gap in the gate that was slightly broken at the bottom.

Harun Bahri and his family, who own the tortoise, think Madmartigan was most likely roaming the neighborhood for the past two days since she left her home.

The recent drop in temperatures in the area has Bahri concerned for the tortoise.

“We are originally from Phoenix, Arizona, and in the winter times, we do get frost, but typically the tortoise is in a burrow and is actually warm and inside,” said Bahri. “While she could probably handle a cold weather snap, too cold is definitely not too good for her health — so it’s a little worrisome.”

Madmartigan is a desert sarcodes tortoise native to Arizona. She’s an herbivore, and for the most part, is a day animal and sleeps through the night. 

“She is a roaming animal, so she can actually get a lot further than you would think, and tortoises are actually a lot faster than you expect, a lot faster actually, which was a surprising thing to learn,” Bahri said. 

Bahri said like every pet, Madmartigan became part of the family despite being an unusual pet choice. 

“My wife has had her for 10 years ever since she was a little hatchling. She could fit in the palm of her hand,” Bahri said. “So for my wife, she is very distraught, and my 4-year-old son is very sad and is always asking about the tortoise and where it is because we go and play with it every day and we feed it every day and now it’s missing.”

The tortoise is currently 18-inches long and about 14-inches wide, and pretty tall. Bahri said if it shows up in your front yard, you can’t miss it. “It’s this giant tan, brown, hump,” he said.

Bahri said Madmartigan likes to hide under bushes, and oddly enough, she almost disappears when she is under a bush because she is completely camouflaged.

“It’s one of the coolest animals I have ever seen and ever had as a pet; it’s like having a dinosaur obviously that isn’t going to kill you,” Bahri said. “It’s got personality, believe it or not, and we just miss her terribly.” 

“We would really like to have her back, it would mean everything.”

Harun Bahri

Bahri said tortoises live to be about 150 years, so someday he hopes to pass down Madmartigan to his children.

The Bahri family has placed Madmartigan’s missing information on social media, on all local pet groups, contacted animal control, and have been going door to door in their neighborhood, dropping off flyers they made. 

“If she is on the road, pick her up on the side, for the most part, she is a very skittish, shy animal — odds are she is not very aggressive,” Bahri said. “She won’t bite you unless you stick your hand in … mouth, don’t do that.”

Since she weighs like 60 to 70 pounds, Bahri advised anyone who sees her to lift with her with their legs and not with their back. Bahri cautioned that since she’s not a turtle, do not put her in a pool of water because she is not a water animal at all; rather, she is a desert animal. 

More than the lack of food and water, Bahri’s biggest concern is the dropping temperatures at night and that the tortoise may get hit by a car while crossing a road.

“We might get lucky. she might come back on her own, but the odds are against that for the most part, unfortunately,” Bahri said. 

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