Related video above: Florida neighbors kill massive Burmese python found lurking near home
PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — After three long years, a Florida family was reunited with their pet tortoise Sunday after she vanished from their home.
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook Saturday that deputies came across an “unusual looking” tortoise that was attempting to cross a state road in Interlachen, Florida, which is about 30 miles east of Gainesville.
Deputies later learned that the animal was an African Sulcata, a tortoise that’s native to the southern edge of the Sahara Desert.
So, what could this tortoise be doing out in the middle of Florida?
Wildlife experts at Florida’s Wildest Animal Rescue said these types of tortoises are known escape artists and can dig out of their enclosures. Authorities even had a hunch the tortoise was someone’s pet because she “likes people and head pats.”
The tortoise was eventually taken to Florida’s Wildest Animal Rescue, where the agency said one of their followers sent a post from April 2020 of a sulcata tortoise that looked similar to the one deputies found and disappeared from the same area.
The animal rescue was able to compare photos from the original post and learned the tortoise had been missing for 3.5 years. The reptile was also found five miles away from where she originally escaped.
The sheriff’s office and the animal rescue both shared they were able to reunite the long-lost tortoise with her family, adding that the animal is in a “little bit” of rough shape after spending so many cold winters without heat, but she’s expected to be okay.
“What a happy ending! We are so happy we were able to assist in reuniting her with her family!” Florida’s Wildest Animal Rescue said.