Not at all surprised these tortoises are covering so much ground. I think I’d name him/her “told-ya-so”
The test site tortoises are on the move.
Two weeks after being set free at the Nevada National Security Site, a group of desert tortoises equipped with radio transmitters are spreading out into their new habitat 60 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
And some are moving considerably faster than others.
Of the 60 tortoises released at the federal reservation on Sept. 21, nine wandered more than a kilometer – or three-fifths of a mile – during their first 10 days of freedom. Three of them had covered almost a mile and a quarter by Oct. 1.
“That’s big for a little tortoise,” said Jen Germano, a postdoctoral researcher from the San Diego Zoo who is leading the study. “Some of them have gone up over ridges and down into other little valleys or washes. For a little tortoise, that’s got to be like climbing Everest.”
The leader so far is tortoise No. 4055, who has been trucking almost due west as fast as his legs could carry him – approximately 0.007 miles per hour – since the day he was set free.
In the first 10 days, he covered more than a mile and a half. By Friday, he had gone another mile and safely crossed a paved road.
His run has caught the attention of officials at the Nevada National Security Site who are inviting the public to suggest names for the tortoise on the test site’s Facebook page.
Among the suggestions so far are Flash, Speedy, Lightning McQueen, and Plume, “as in the plume of dust he leaves behind.” The first name submitted was Harry Reid.
Germano said it’s too early to draw any conclusions from the way her test tortoises are behaving. “But I am surprised by how far a little tortoise can go.”
For the first week after reptiles were set free, Germano returned to the test site with two or three assistants to check on them daily. She originally planned to go back once a week after that, but she decided to make it twice a week so she wouldn’t lose track of some of her faster-moving subjects.
It takes a crew of three to four people about half the day and several miles of walking to track down all of the tortoises.