Other Species

Recovery Tips – Other Species

Lost Bird

Lost Birds

How Lost Birds Behave

Birds, well…they fly. The problem is that we don’t know exactly how far they fly before they stop to rest, how likely it is that they will return home, how receptive they will be to human intervention, and what factors influence the distance that they travel when loose. Unfortunately, our knowledge of lost bird behavior is limited. One of our goals is to conduct a scientific study and analysis of previous lost bird cases to learn more about the typical distances that birds fly when they escape and what factors influence how far they fly. Your tax-deductible donation to Missing Pet Partnership will help us achieve this goal!

Lost Bird Resources

  • www.birdhotline.com has great information on lost birds and you can post a FREE lost-and-found bird ad.
  • www.birdmart.com/classifieds/lost has a great article on how to find a lost parrot and you can place a FREE lost bird ad.
  • www.parrotsnow.com/lostandfound2.html Parrots Now posts lost and found parrot stories. It includes useful lost/found parrot recovery stories that might give you ideas and HOPE for recovering your lost parrot.
  • www.911ParrotAlert.com is a volunteer-run, international database initiative dedicated to helping reunite LOST, STOLEN, FOUND, and SIGHTED pet birds (not limited to parrots!) with their families. Ads are cross-posted for Lost & Found Pet Birds from hundreds of sites and newspapers.
  • Northwest Exotic Bird Society
  • Find A Pet Detective! Missing Pet Partnership maintains a list of Missing Animal Response Technicians (professional pet detectives) and Lost Pet First Responders (volunteers) who can respond to your home to help you attempt to locate your lost bird by conducting a yard-to-yard search, posting posters, handing out flyers, and contacting neighbors and witnesses in the area. If a MAR Technician is not available to respond in person, they may be able to coach you over the phone.

Lost Ferret

Lost Ferrets

How Lost Ferrets Behave

Unlike dogs that travel and are picked up by people, or cats that hide in silence due to injuries or fear or become trapped and unable to come home, ferrets often travel a short distance to a neighbor’s house where they scratch on the door to come inside! For the most part, ferrets are gregarious and curious. An aggressive physical search of the immediate area combined with contacting neighbors and potential witnesses can lead to a quick recovery.

Unfortunately, our knowledge of lost ferret behavior is limited. One of our goals is to conduct a scientific study and analysis of previous lost ferret cases to learn more about the typical distances that ferrets travel when lost and what factors influence their rate of travel. Your tax-deductible donation to Missing Pet Partnership will help us achieve this goal!

Lost Ferret Resources

  • www.ferretsanonymous.com/lost/lost.html is a location where you can post your lost ferret photo and information.
  • www.maferrets.org/info/lostandfound.html offers great recovery tips for lost ferrets.
  • www.geocities.com/lostferrets/troutman.html is an excellent article by Pamela Troutman about how to search for a lost ferret.
  • Find A Pet Detective! Missing Pet Partnership maintains a list of Missing Animal Response Technicians (professional pet detectives) and Lost Pet First Responders (volunteers) who can respond to your home to help you attempt to locate your lost ferret by conducting a yard-to-yard search, utilizing scent tracking or detection dogs, posting posters, handing out flyers, and contacting neighbors and witnesses in the area. If a MAR Technician is not available to respond in person, they may be able to coach you over the phone.

Lost Snake

Lost Snakes

How Lost Snakes Behave

In general, snakes do not travel all that far. When they escape their enclosures or aquariums, snakes tend to look for something to slither into that provides a dark place to hide. They are more likely to follow baseboards and travel against walls than they are to slither in the open. A very detailed physical search of the immediate area inside the building where they escaped is imperative. Look for the first location nearest the escape point that offers an area of concealment and use a flashlight to examine this area with a fine-tooth comb. Don’t just look under a chair or couch; lift it up and examine the entire inside of the furniture, looking for even just a glimpse of your snake. The longer that time elapses (i.e. weeks and months), the higher the chance that escaped snakes will slither into a new room or even find a way to escape from the building.

We’ve heard of cases where a missing snake was found in the same apartment where it escaped eight months earlier. We’ve also heard of snakes that were missing for four months that were found in the next door neighbor’s garage. Snakes have been found coiled in the springs of couches, inside cupboards, inside a warm laundry room or appliance, in closets, inside toolboxes, under refrigerators wrapped around coils that provide warmth, inside ceilings, and under furniture.

Even if you determine that your snake is still inside your home, it can be difficult to actually capture the snake. To confirm that your snake is still inside the room where it escaped, you can create a simple “track trap.” Track traps are used by search-and-rescue workers in missing hiker cases to confirm a lost person is within a search area and to establish their direction of travel. Search workers rake a dirt area, flag it, and monitor it every four hours. If a new shoe print shows up inside the dirt “trap” then searchers can narrow the focus of their search. To make a track trap for your snake, sprinkle some baking soda along the baseboards on your linoleum, tile, or concrete flooring. If the room is carpeted, use duct tape to secure either aluminum foil or wax paper on the carpet along the baseboards. Next, place a live mouse in a tiny carrier (plastic with vents or cardboard with holes) and hide it along the same baseboard behind a couch, dresser, or some area that is dark and that offers concealment. Check the powder (and the mouse) daily for signs of disturbance (slither marks in the powder).

Once you have confirmed that your snake is still inside the building, consider creating a makeshift aquarium where he will prefer to hide. Take a cardboard box, cut a small hole big enough for your snake to slither into. Place this near an outlet and set up a heating pad. Place a contained mouse inside of this box. Next, turn down your heat for the next several days and put on sweaters. Hopefully, your snake will be attracted to the sounds and scent of a mouse and will elect to curl up inside of the box because of the warm heating pads.

Here’s a great tip sent to us by a snake owner. “Snakes need water (maybe they can “smell it?”), so you just leave their water dish out where you can see it out of the corner of your eye whenever you’re at home, like in your main TV room. In the evening they get active and suddenly you look over and there he is slurping up the water… I’ve recovered my snake all but one of his escapes that way (the other time was when I found him the traditional way by searching dark places near his cage).”

Unfortunately, our knowledge of lost snake behavior is limited, primarily because there has never been a scientific study that can provide statistics on how lost snakes behave. One of our goals is to obtain the funding to research lost snake behaviors to confirm what the typical distances are that snakes travel when lost and what factors influence their rate of slithering. Your tax-deductible donation to Missing Pet Partnership will help us achieve this goal!

Lost Snake Resources

  • www.snake-removal.com Snake Removal, a national corporation, specializes in the systematic location, capture, and removal of physically accessible snakes. Presently, they have over 50 field herpetologists/herpetoculturists (not available in all states), including several with doctoral or masters level work accomplished in the field. Snake Removal™ is the largest company of its kind specializing exclusively in snake removal. Although their specialty is removing unwanted snakes (and not in searching for lost snakes), their knowledge of snake behavior and where missing snakes can be found is invaluable. Their fee for an actual physical response can be costly; however, they also offer telephone consultations with snake experts who can offer advice and ideas on how to locate and capture a missing snake.
  • Lost Reptile Consultations: MAR Technician Rob Smith (Paulsboro, NJ) specializes in lost reptile recovery. Rob is knowledgeable in the behaviors of various snakes, turtles, tortoises, iguanas, lizards, and other reptiles. He is available for e-mail and phone consultations through his website www.helpfindlostpets.com.
  • Find A Pet Detective! Missing Pet Partnership maintains a list of Missing Animal Response Technicians (professional pet detectives) and Lost Pet First Responders (volunteers) who can respond to your home to help you attempt to locate your lost snake by conducting a detailed search. In some cases, the MAR Technician may have a search dog that can be utilized to search for any species of animal, including nonvenomous snakes, so long as scent material of that particular snake is available. Scent material can include a shed snake skin or the scent from the aquarium (if not shared with another snake) can be used.

Lost Turtle

Lost Turtle/Tortoise

How Lost Turtles/Tortoises Behave

We wish we could predict the distances that turtles and tortoises travel when lost, but this will require a scientific study (and funding). In the meantime, here’s what we know so far about lost turtle and tortoise behaviors.

When lost inside a building, turtles and tortoises will tend to find a dark place to crawl into. When missing outdoors, they might burrow into the dirt or into vegetation, especially in warm or cold weather. Because there’s a large variety of turtles and tortoises, some may be more inclined to burrow while others may be more inclined to travel. A tiny red-eared slider turtle will likely travel a shorter distance than a large desert tortoise. Sometimes turtles and tortoises travel and are picked up by people who find them. However, this will depend on the population density of the area where it is lost (a tortoise lost in a rural area will travel farther than one lost in New York City). This is why an aggressive attempt to hand out flyers to neighbors and to post giant, florescent REWARD LOST TURTLE signs at nearby intersections is important. Although their rate of travel is rather slow, turtles and tortoises have been found as far as a few miles from home. In one case, a police officer recovered a tortoise that traveled one mile in three months.

Lost Turtle/Tortoise Resources

  • www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/lost.htm The Tortoise Trust has a great article about how to search for a lost turtle or tortoise.
  • Lost Reptile Consultations: MAR Technician Rob Smith (Paulsboro, NJ) specializes in lost reptile recovery. Rob is knowledgeable in the behaviors of various snakes, turtles, tortoises, iguanas, lizards, and other reptiles. He is available for e-mail and phone consultations through his website www.helpfindlostpets.com.
  • Find A Pet Detective! Missing Pet Partnership maintains a list of Missing Animal Response Technicians (professional pet detectives) and Lost Pet First Responders (volunteers) who can respond to your home to help you attempt to locate your lost turtle or tortoise by conducting a detailed search. In some cases, the MAR Technician may have a search dog that can be utilized to search for any species of animal, including turtles or tortoise, so long as scent material of that particular pet is available. Scent material can include scent from the aquarium (if not shared with another turtle or tortoise).

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