Usually, when we hear stories about runaway pets that return home, it’s typically about a dog or the occasional horse. But this time, a UK tortoise reunited with its owner after a year. And he traveled a whole half-mile from his home.
Yes, you read that right. He was missing for a whole year and only traveled a half-mile.
To be fair, Maxi the tortoise is pretty small. Unlike the gargantuan ones at the zoo, this little guy is only a little larger than his owner’s hand. But somehow, the 14-year-old reptile scaled a foot-tall fence and embarked on his 2,650-foot journey. Kind of impressive when you put it that way.
Thankfully, local Susie Thomas and her neighbor Linda Rogers spotted the small tortoise in the grass while walking a dog in the middle of a field.
“It was very lucky that Maxi was on the path we were walking on, as the field isn’t a right of way — we were walking the farm owner’s dog so we had permission to walk there, so otherwise he wouldn’t have been found,” Thomas, 24, told The Telegraph.
Thomas also expressed the added luck of finding poor Maxi before harvest—and tractor—season.
UK Women Search For Tortoise’s Owner
Once the good Samaritans had Maxi in their custody, they took him home to give him water and food. (If you’re wondering, tortoises typically eat leafy greens and some fruits like berries and melon.)
The next step was tracking down Maxi’s owner. Using the best sleuthing tool known to man, Thomas and Rogers scoured Facebook groups for anyone that posted about a missing tiny reptile.
“We made sure to ask the possible owners to describe their tortoise and send pictures first so we could make sure we would definitely give it to the rightful owner,” said Thomas, concerned that someone would wrongfully claim Maxi as their own.
Within three days, Ruaidhri Jukes sent the women a message, identifying his tortoise by the distinct chip at the front of his shell.
According to Jukes, Maxi spent most of his time in his enclosure outside before his extended adventure. He then shared some interesting information—Maxi the tortoise was a repeat escape artist.
“He has escaped before and been missing for a similar length of time,” Jukes shared. “So, at first, I was confident that he might come back. But just before he came back, I had basically given up hope but he got found and came back home. It’s crazy.”
Jukes is thrilled his beloved tortoise is home and unharmed, adding that he may need a little extra “TLC.” After Maxi receives the care he needs, his owner might want to look into a sturdier enclosure for his crafty pet.