A pet turtle is back home in Hay River, N.W.T. after three weeks on the lam.

A neighbour spotted Shelly, a red-eared slider the size of a dinner plate, crossing the street near the health centre just around the corner from her pond in Peter Ostead's backyard. Ostead takes care of Shelly in the summer. 

“Lady came to the door and rang the doorbell and said, ‘I think this is yours’ and sure enough it was the turtle."

Shelly escaped from her pond on June 28, causing one turtle expert to raise the alarm.

"The red-eared slider will eat everything and anything,” said Dave Law, who runs the Alberta Turtle and Tortoise Society. “It'll even eat a bird. They eat mice, they eat insects, fish — you name it — and they will completely destroy an ecosystem."

Ostead says he never expected to see Shelly again. He's improved the fence around the turtle's outdoor pond.  

He and his wife say they are grateful to people in Hay River who kept an eye out for the turtle.

And there are many: Shelly spends her winters couch-surfing in various homes in the community. 

"The turtle has been around," Ostead says. 

Red-eared sliders are common in Louisiana and Alabama.