Tortoises going on the run, escaping from gardens at 5mph and owners cannot keep up
Sue Rice, from The Ark animal rescue centre in Lincoln, said that modern tortoises seem to move a lot faster, possibly because of improved high fibre diets fed to them by health-conscious owners.They’re fizzing with energy and have got the legs and the desire to see the big wide world outside their gardens.
Keeping up with the superfit little plodders is becoming a lot harder, and there’s been a marked rise in reports across the UK of shell-backed fugitives vanishing before their owners can find them.
For creatures which are usually thought of as slowcoaches, they are surprising their owners by showing a remarkable turn of speed.
The fastest common or garden tortoises are now able to burn it up at five miles an hour, say nature experts.Strangely, the legendary giant tortoises found on the Galapagos islands are content to amble along at a contemplative 0.17mph.
Meet Fang who runs at a surprising 5mph
Tortoises are quite determined diggers and can dig under fences
Brian Harshaw of Coningsby Pet and Aquatics
Owners are having to pay for adverts in local papers and village shop windows, as well as extensive poster and leaflet ‘drops’ asking if neighbours have seen their plod-away pets. »Tortoises are very good escape artists – when the sun is out and they are put in the garden, they can soon make a break for it through an insecure fence or digging their way out » warned Sue.
« Someone found a tortoise last Thursday and handed it in to us, then another one turned up on his doorstep the next day.
This is Ivana Trump who can easily climb over obstacles that block her escape
« It turns out both tortoises – called Fang and Ivana Trump – belonged to the same owner and we have been able to reunite them. »We put a post on Facebook and quite a few people contacted me saying their tortoises had escaped or possibly been stolen.
« We recommend – just like with other animals – to get your tortoise microchipped. »
Giant tortoises at London Zoo
The 70-year-old tortoise makes himself at home at London Zoo
Astra Leadbitter, who owns Fang and Ivana Trump, said her daughter was devastated when they legged it from the garden. »Thankfully they’re now home, safe and sound. Me and my little girl went to pick them up and we are absolutely over the moon to get them back. »
Brian Harshaw, of Coningsby Pet and Aquatics in Lincoln, is caring for a tortoise found last week by a PCSO on patrol in nearby Woodhall Spa.
He said « People think tortoises are slow and so do not always watch them as much as maybe they should.
« Tortoises are quite determined diggers and can dig under fences and insecure runs. »They can climb reasonably well and get themselves over obstacles. In 20 minutes they could easily walk 100 yards.
« We are continuing to care for the tortoise and if the owner has not come forward by the weekend, a woman who rescues tortoises has agreed to take it.
« I know it is common for owners to lose tortoises or they are unfortunately stolen, and I have lots of notices in my window from people trying to trace their pets. »