It had run away at turtle speed.
Athol police found a 40-pound African spurred tortoise on Sunday evening and returned it to its owner.
A police officer found the 6-year-old reptile on Partridgeville Road shortly after 6:30 p.m. and lured it closer with lettuce, police said in a statement.
After a short investigation, police learned the tortoise belonged to an Athol resident who lived more than a mile away from where the animal was found.
Athol police coordinated with the New England Aquarium, Massachusetts Environmental Police, and Animal Control to return the tortoise its owner.
Alejandro Serrano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.