Slow escape: ‘Maxi’ the tortoise found having travelled half a mile at average speed of 0.00007mph
A runaway tortoise has finally been found a year after it went missing – having travelled just over half a mile at an average speed of just 0.00007 mph.
After scaling a 12 inch-high fence to escape from his enclosure and embarking on the journey, the tortoise – named Maxi – was found by dog walkers in the middle of a Wiltshire field just 0.6 miles from his home.
Susie Thomas and her neighbour Linda Rogers were ‘lucky’ to have come across the 14 year old tortoise as they were only allowed in the field because they were walking the farm owner’s dog and he could have been crushed by a tractor if not found in time.
Miss Thomas, 24, explained: “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.
“Obviously, with the harvest coming up, it could’ve been a very sad story if we hadn’t found him.”
After finding Maxi, they took him home to give him food and water. They then searched local Facebook groups to try to find out who might be missing a tortoise.
Miss Thomas, who is a Behavioural Economics student, said: “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 – we were wary that people might just claim it to be theirs.”
After three days of searching, they found the tortoise’s owner Ruaidhri Jukes who lives a mere 0.6 miles from the field in Coombe Bissett, Wilts, where Maxi was found.
The Hermann’s tortoise – who could be distinguished by a distinctive chip on its shell near his head – had been missing since last August.
Maxi is about the size of a small ball with a shell that is about seven inches long and six inches wide.
Mr Jukes said he didn’t know how his tortoise escaped as he was in an outdoors enclosure with wire fencing 12 inches high.
The 23 year old support worker said: “He would normally spend all day in his enclosure over the summer and I don’t know how he escaped – he just was not in there anymore.
“Maybe he climbed out but I don’t know.”
He added he ‘really couldn’t believe it’ when Miss Thomas got in touch to say his tortoise had been found as he had given up hope on finding him.
He said: “He has escaped before and been missing for a similar length of time. So, at first, I was confident that he might come back.
But just before he came back, I had basically given up home but he got found and came back home – it’s crazy.”
The first time Maxi escaped, he was found by Mr Juke’s neighbour as they mowed their lawn around nine months after he went missing.
Maxi, who Mr Jukes has had since he was 10, is now safely home.
Mr Jukes said: “He’s back and he’s safe and he needs a little bit of TLC but he will be okay.”