Runaway Pet Tortoise Reunited with Owners After 3 Long Years

An African sulcata tortoise, an adept escape artist, found its way back to its family after being missing for more than three years. The tortoise, discovered in Putnam County, Florida, has a remarkable story of survival, persistence, and a community’s determination to reunite it with its owners.

The discovered tortoise is an African sulcata species.

Photo: Facebook / Putnam County Sheriff’s Office
The discovered tortoise is an African sulcata species.

As the New York Post reports, the journey to reunite this remarkable tortoise began when Putnam County deputies noticed an “unusual-looking tortoise” crawling across a highway in Interlachen, Florida. Known for their escape artist abilities, the deputies were quick to point out that the African sulcata tortoise had a friendly disposition, “liking people and head pats.”

Authorities then posted a photo of the tortoise on Facebook, hoping to find its owner.

Identifying the Escapee

With the help of social media and the keen eye of a friend, the tortoise’s owners were finally identified. As Newsweek reports, the friend recognized distinct markings on the tortoise’s shell, matching those in a photo shared by the owners in April 2020 when it first went missing. This astonishing discovery revealed that the tortoise, after all its wandering, had been found just five miles from its original home.

The tortoise was found wandering in Putnam County.

Photo: Facebook / Putnam County Sheriff’s Office
The tortoise was found wandering in Putnam County.

A Happy Reunion

The reunion between the tortoise and its family was a moment of pure joy and relief. It was a testament to the power of perseverance and community support.

However, the tortoise’s ordeal had taken a toll on its health. After spending many cold winters without heat, the tortoise was in a bit of a rough shape. As Yahoo! News reports, Florida’s Wildest Animal Rescue recommended a trip to the vet for a thorough examination and care.

The Resilient Sulcata Tortoise

According to the Maryland Zoo, the sulcata tortoise, also known as the African spurred tortoise, is one of the world’s largest tortoise species and a popular pet in the United States. Their intelligence and curiosity often lead them to escape from their enclosures. They have the strength to burrow under fences or even knock them down, earning them the title of escape artists, CBS News reports. Their adventurous spirit can create challenges for their owners but also heartwarming stories of reunions, much like this one.

The reptile was in rough shape after living on its own for three years.

Photo: Facebook / Putnam County Sheriff’s Office
The reptile was in rough shape after living on its own for three years.

The Role of Social Media and Community

This heartwarming tale wouldn’t have been possible without the power of social media and a supportive community. Posts by the sheriff’s office on Facebook were shared hundreds of times, and the community rallied around the cause, celebrating the reunion, WMUR reports.

Through this tortoise’s story we see the unbreakable bond between humans and their pets, and the lengths we are willing to go to ensure their safety and well-being.

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, spending time with his daughters, and coffee.
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