George the tortoiseA runaway tortoise has been reunited with their Brackla-based owner, after being spotted walking up a path by a member of the public who was heading to the local shops.

RSPCA Cymru was alerted after the spur-thighed (Testudo graeca) tortoise was found strolling up a pathway on Tuesday April 3.

He had escaped after sneaking through the soft part of a fence panel in the garden of the home of his owner, Karen. The 12-year-old tortoise, named George, was missing for three days, and was found about a five-minute walk away – for a human – from his home.

George was confined to a box, before being collected by an RSPCA officer and taken to the International Tortoise Association in Sully for boarding.

Fortunately, the owner of the break-away pet contacted the RSPCA having seen a message on Facebook about the missing tortoise – and the duo were soon reunited.

Julie Fadden, RSPCA inspector, said: “It must have come as some surprise to the member of the public who stumbled upon a curious tortoise heading towards the local Brackla shops!

“We collected the tortoise and took him to our friends at the International Tortoise Association; and fortunately the owner was soon in touch to be reunited.

“It’s always nice to be involved in a happy ending – and thankfully runway George is back with his owner after his mischievous break-out!”

Karen, who owns George and one other tortoise Beanie, said: “I’ve been losing sleep with worry, and I’m just so grateful to everyone who helped George – including the member of the public who found him, the RSPCA and the International Tortoise Association.

George and Beanie the tortoise

“I’ve owned George his whole life – and I’m just to relieved and happy to have him home. He was missing for three days, and had ventured about a five-minute walk away from our home – but with a former river-bed of overgrown brambles so near to the back of our home, thankfully he has come to no harm.

“George is named in homage to gorgeous Lonesome George, the giant tortoise from the Galapagos Islands that died not so long ago – and was the last of his species. He’s also named after George Clooney – as he is a handsome tortoise!”

Celia Claypole, of the International Tortoise Association, said: “George was brought to us by the RSPCA, and we spent time speaking to our members in the local area to see if they knew the owner. Fortunately, the owner spotted messages on Facebook from the local community and, via the RSPCA, was put in touch with ourselves.

“He’s a very lucky tortoise, as having been on the loose for three days, there are many hazards he could have come across – including roads – but it’s just amazing to be involved in a happy ending.

“This story highlights the importance of microchipping a tortoise – which undoubtedly is the best way of tracing the owner should they ever become lost.”

Across England and Wales, the RSPCA collected 97 stray tortoises in 2017, with a peak over the summer months when owners tend to give their tortoises more time outside, in the garden or a specially-made pen.

It is important that anyone keeping a tortoise ensures that the enclosure is secure to prevent accidental escape; many people do not realise that tortoises can dig and burrow, barriers must be high enough to prevent escape from climbing and fencing kept secure with no gaps.

The RSPCA logs stray tortoises on Pets Located, but many are not claimed by an owner, so are then rehomed. The RSPCA strongly recommends that owners take steps to make sure their tortoise can be positively identified, with a microchip fitted by an exotics vet.

Should you wish to help the RSPCA, you can donate online. The RSPCA is a charity and relies on donations from the public to exist.