A Parson Drove man got the shock of his life after unearthing his Mediterranean tortoise with a digger ten months after he went missing, surviving one of the coldest winters on record.
Paul Bodger was gardening on Thursday when he spotted what he thought was a brick in the pile of earth he dug up two weeks ago. On closer inspection he realised it was missing tortoise Sydney, who is almost three years old, but did not expect the animal to hiss at him and start moving his legs.
“I thought he was dead,” Paul said. “I was overjoyed.”
The saga of Sydney, a native tortoise of Turkey, started ten months ago when he disappeared from outside Paul and his partner Yvette White’s Parson Drove home. Yvette had put him outside while she was cleaning his vivarium but while she answered a phone call, the tortoise vanished.
“We spent ten days looking for him. We cut the grass – carefully – and even used a sniffer dog to try and find him, but all to no avail. There was all gravel out the back. We thought the only place he could have gone was in the North Level Drain.”
Reptile lover Yvette, who also has two dragons, felt awful about Sydney’s disappearance, particularly as the pet had been a gift from Paul. She was reduced to tears when Paul told her he was alive.
“We had accepted he was dead,” Paul said. “It is truly amazing he is still alive and well.”
Paul believes Sydney must have gorged himself during the summer months then dug himself into the ground to hibernate throughout the winter. It was purely by chance that it was in the area Paul has been excavating for an extension.
In the two weeks since the earth was dug up, Sydney had starting digging himself a new hole, clearly not ready to come out in the cold yet.
He was checked over by a vet and given the all-clear. Paul said one of his eyes was still a bit muddy but he warmed up nicely after his adventure.