As It Happens

Tortoise found 322 metres from home after being on the lam for 6 months

Missing for half a year, Tallulah the British tortoise was found just 322 metres away from home — having travelled at a speed of less than 0.00007 kilometres per hour.
Leanna Morris is happy to have her pet tortoise Tallulah back. The creature escaped from Morris' Oxford, England, garden in July 2017 and was found six months later just 322 metres away. (Submitted by Leanna Morris )

Story transcript

Tallulah the tortoise made a great escape from a garden in Oxford, England, last summer and set out on a harrowing six-month journey through ice and snow and traffic — only to be found across the street.

"If you were to cross the road, it would take you less than a minute to get to where she was," Leanna Morris, Tallulah's owner, told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann. 

"It took her ages to get there."

Specifically, Tallulah was found 322 metres away from home, about 4,368 hours after she went missing.

The tortoise apparently cut through a neighbour's backyard and crossed a busy street to get to a nearby schoolyard.

If Tallulah travelled the whole time in a straight line, the tortoise would have been moving at a speed of 0.00007 kilometres per hour.

Morris said the family dog will not be happy to have Tallulah back. 'He's scared of her,' she said. 'He was probably relieved for the peace.' (Submitted by Leanna Morris)

The tortoise's journey began on a sunny day in July 2017, when Morris put the creature out in her backyard to putter about.

Morris said she thought she had "Tallulah-proofed" the garden, but the animal made a break for it through a previously undiscovered fox hole.

She looked everywhere for Tallulah, she said, scouring the neighbourhood for her beloved pet and leaving leaflets in her neighbours' mailboxes.

'She's quite stubborn'

But after awhile, she gave up hope. 

"After a month or so I thought, OK, I need to put all her things away. So I kind of took down her box. I took down her light. I put her food back," she said. "It felt empty."

Then, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, three schoolgirls found Tallulah in the nearby Cheney School playground on their way to class.

They brought the tortoise to their teacher, who called the SPCA, who identified the missing creature via its microchip and contacted Morris. 

While Morris is thrilled to be reunited with her pet, she's not sure Tallulah feels the same way.

"She's never been affectionate. She's quite stubborn. She hisses," Morris said.

A long, cold winter

Nevertheless, there's something to be said for the comforts of home. The arduous journey across the street took a lot out of Tallulah.

The tortoise survived several days of snow and sub-zero temperatures. She was found discoloured and malnourished with a swollen eye, and is now recovering at the vet.

After a harrowing six-month trek across the street, Tallulah the tortoise enjoys some comfy towels and a leafy green snack. (Submitted by Leanna Morris)

"The vet has said there is no need for worrying. She just needs to put on a bit of weight, continue with her eye drops and she will be right back where she should be," Morris said.

"I'm sure she'll be absolutely pleased to come back knowing that she's got regular food, she's warm, she's dry."

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