Elderly tortoise reunited with owners thanks for Facebook

A runaway tortoise, believed to be around 75-years old has been reunited with her owners after being rescued by the RSPCA.

The old spur-thighed tortoise was found by a member of the public wandering around Lansdowne Road in Staines-Upon-Thames on Sunday 12 May at around 12:30pm.

Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) Pete Yardle collected the female tortoise and cared for her whilst he tried to find her owner. Peter Laney, 61, was on holiday in Montenegro when a friend sent him a post on Facebook from a local news site about a missing tortoise, asking: “Is this your Freddie?”

The tortoise has a distinguishing white mark on her shell and straight away Peter knew that this was his pet tortoise who had been in his family since the 1960’s. Freddie, thought to be around 75-years old, was reunited with her grateful owners who were surprised to discover he was actually female.

Mr Laney, said: “We were on holiday when we got messages of friends sharing the Facebook post and newspaper articles and asking if this was our tortoise. My daughter, who was looking after Freddie whilst we were away, went straight round there and found the back gate open and Freddie had gone.

“When we got back off holiday, we gathered all the photos of Freddie we had, some dating back to the 60s and showed them to the officer. She’s such a character and we’re so pleased to have her back. She belonged to my parents originally and I’m 61 now so I can’t remember a time when she hasn’t been around.

“Since she’s been back, she hasn’t stopped eating and she follows my wife around the garden and keeps looking at her through the window. I think she missed her. Mandy mainly looks after her, bathes her and feeds her – she loves her!”

Peter and his wife Mandy have looked after Freddie for the last eight years after Peter’s father died.

“It’s been quite a surprise to learn that Freddie is such a girl, after all these years, we have to keep her name as Freddie,” Mr Laney explained. “She’s such a character, everybody loves Freddie. I’d like to thank the RSPCA and the people that handed her in, without them we wouldn’t have Freddie back with us.”

As well as the gender of the tortoise coming as a surprise to Mr Laney, he was also shocked to hear that Freddie is much older than he thought.

Mr Laney said: “I thought she was about 60 but the RSPCA officer said from the picture in the 60s, Freddie is already quite big there and could easily be 10 or 15 in the picture, which would make her about 75 now.”

RSPCA’s AWO Pete Yardle added: “I was happy to be able to reunite Freddie with her loving owners. It’s one of the best parts of our job. For such an older girl, Freddie is in great health and seemed very happy to return home.”

The RSPCA advise that Spur-thighed tortoises should have both a large, indoor open-topped enclosure with appropriate heat sources and UV lighting, as well as a large, secure, escape-proof outdoor enclosure which they can use in the summer to access natural sunlight if the outside temperature is warmer than 20’C.

They would urge owners to ensure that their reptile is kept secure when outside, as reptiles can warm up and become very quick to move on a sunny day. It is possible to microchip tortoises and the RSPCA advise owners to ask their exotics vet to do that, so that tortoises can be easily reunited if lost and found.

For more information about the care of exotic pets you can visit www.rspca.org.uk/exotics.