Lovelorn tortoise flees 20 miles in search of mate after escaping from garden
Published 28/05/2015 | 20:38
A lovelorn tortoise which twice escaped from its garden home in search of romance has once again been reunited with its owners - and grounded.
Bobby the Hermann's Tortoise had until a week ago showed no interest in leaving the safe confines of its home in a Warwickshire village.
However, the reptile's first escape attempt saw it end up 20 miles away in Solihull, while on the second occasion Bobby was discovered chomping through a vegetable patch half a mile away.
Owner Debbie Acton, who has had the pet since she was five, said: "It is the time of year for mating, so we're thinking he might have gone to look for a lady friend."
In another perhaps telling sign, Bobby has been humping the shoes of anyone passing - something he has never done before, according to his owner.
The 42-year-old mother-of-three said Bobby was now "grounded", after she spent much of her half-term holiday worrying about where her much-loved pet had got to.
Bobby, who is about 37 years old, accomplished his first vanishing act on May 19.
Mrs Acton then emailed nearly all the homes in the village of Barnacle, near Coventry, where the family lives and put up posters pleading for information about the missing tortoise.
It turned out Bobby had been sighted wandering along a path heading north out of the village, then disappeared again, before turning up at stables and being taken home by a woman from Solihull for safe-keeping.
"We kept doing the route of his walk and everyone we met, we said 'can you look out for a tortoise'," added Mrs Acton.
"A lady who doesn't even live in the village told her family over Sunday lunch that she had met us, and her son is the paper boy who delivers to the stables' neighbours.
"Next thing, I got a ring of the doorbell and this guy said 'I've got your tortoise but I'm afraid he's in Solihull'."
Having returned home on Sunday, Bobby again seemed unable to sate his wanderlust and squeezed his shell through a hole in the garden fence the following day.
"He was found in an allotment, across some open fields, at the bottom of someone's vegetable patch chomping his way through that," said Mrs Acton.
Having today been reunited with Mrs Acton, her husband John and children Aidan, Jay and Casey, the family are now looking at ways to give Bobby both some satisfaction and security.
"He's been unsuccessful in love," said Mrs Acton.
"But I've managed to find him a lady-friend on Facebook, who is owned by a woman over in the next village.
"So, once he's finished being grounded, I will take him around there for a blind date."
She explained, despite the worry, that the drama had earned her new friends in the tortoise world, some of whom have suggested ways of keeping a closer eye on the roaming pet.
"I didn't even know there were Facebook groups for tortoise owners, but there's loads out there.
"I've had people sending me pics of tortoises from miles away, asking if they were mine - Dover was one I got sent.
"But I've met lots of new friends in the tortoise world."
She added: "Someone sent me a link to a GPS tracker which you can fit on to him, and then monitor through your mobile phone, so I might do that."