Quigley’s big days out in Sun Peak | ParkRecord.com

Quigley’s big days out in Sun Peak

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

After the pet had eluded its owners for several days in Sun Peak, a Snyderville Basin child located a missing 10-pound tortoise Thursday evening in her own backyard.

"We have been searching and searching and searching I was sick about it," said Bonnie Brock, who was house sitting in Snyderville this week for her daughter, Belinda Adams. "We’re so happy in this house."

The family hadn’t seen the desert tortoise since it escaped in Sun Peak Monday around 5:30 p.m. Brock’s granddaughter, Makenzie Adams, found the tortoise almost exactly three days later.

"I had my attention diverted and didn’t keep a good eye on him," Brock said. "I had him on the deck and he walked down the steps and took off. Unfortunately, I had not erected the summertime barrier at the steps."

The tortoise, Quigley, is routinely allowed to sun himself in the backyard, but has never escaped. According to Brock, the tortoise responds to the sound of her voice.

"I went outside and called him every 15 minutes, just in case," Brock said, adding that Quigley was found walking toward the house. "I think he went up the hill and then found his way back down the hill."

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The tortoise has been her daughter’s pet for 14 years, she said, adding that the animal’s shell is roughly 12 inches in diameter. Brock says about 70 fliers were distributed around Snyderville to notify residents of the missing reptile.

"He’s gotten off the deck before but he’s never had a chance to get far enough to leave the property," she said, adding, "he’s going pretty good because it’s spring time and that’s their most active time, during mating season."

Desert tortoises are vegetarians that can reportedly weigh 15 pounds. Quigley is 18 years old, but desert tortoises can live to be more than 100.

"He lives in the house in a very large aquarium where he is fed and given water," Brock said. "This is a desert tortoise, it cannot survive winters here, by any means."

After searches in the yard yielded no sign of Quigley, Brock became more worried.

"We love him and he’s very sociable because he likes to be with people. He tags along behind you like a dog," she said. "He was looking good when we found him and appreciated finding us."

Petco general manager Mark Giorgio, who grew up with a turtle in his backyard, was surprised Quigley escaped from the deck.

"Not many people have turtles up here that they put in the yard because it’s too cold generally," Giorgio said.

Predators like raccoons and coyotes might try to eat tortoises, he added.

"It’s just a matter of, if they can get them out," Giorgio said. "[Tortoises] burrow, maybe he dug a hole."