Owner's appeal for help to find missing tortoise
Animal lover Rose Hurley has launched a public appeal to help find her beloved missing tortoise which has disappeared from its home in Clevedon.
Rose, who works as a volunteer for the British Chelonia Group, first got April the spur-thighed tortoise when it was just a baby 20 years ago.
But after nurturing the pet – who later turned out to be a male after a mistake with sexing the reptile – for more than two decades, April disappeared from its home in the family garden at Brookfield Walk in August.
Rose, 61, believes that her beloved 5lb reptile made his escape through a hole in the fence and may have trudged his way slowly onto neighbouring fields.
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Despite months of searching, with help from neighbours, dog walkers and local children, and a poster appeal across the town, April has not been seen since.
Rose believes he may have hibernated for the winter and now, as the weather starts to improve, may be rousing from his lengthy sleep.
Normally tortoises hibernate during the winter months with their owners popping them into a cardboard box to sleep. But if they are outside it is likely the reptiles will bury themselves underground to hide themselves from the elements while they snooze.
Rose said: “It may be that someone found him and popped him in a box as he was hibernating and is waiting for him to wake up.
“Either that or he has gone into the neighbouring fields and burrowed into the earth and hibernated.
“We always check April before we go out and when we get back.
“It was soon after we got home on that day in August that we went to check and found he was missing.
“He must have moved pretty fast as we hadn’t been out for long.”
Despite tortoises being renowned for their slow approach to life, they can in fact travel some distance.
A few years ago a tortoise which had also disappeared from Clevedon was found a few weeks later in Nailsea High Street.
Rose added: “April normally just roamed free in the garden and had never disappeared before.
“It was just that our former neighbour had been doing some work in his house and had made a hole in the fence that he got out.
“It was a hot afternoon and the hotter it is the more active April would have been.
“People think tortoises can’t go far when in fact when they put their mind to it, they can travel a fair distance.
“I think that now the weather is improving and the ground is getting warmer, April may reappear.
“We are hoping that if he does reappear we will find him and are appealing to the public to help us and contact us if they spot him.”
Rose is offering a reward to anyone who reunites her with her missing reptile, which is brown/beige in colour and anyone with information should contact 01275 794927.