By Jess Grieveson-Smith
A mischievous tortoise has pulled a Houdini on hundreds of occasions – despite being fitted with a GPS tracker by his exasperated teenage owner.
Rosie Saxelby, 18, is constantly hunting for her tortoise, Mikey, despite his incredibly slow pace – and claims he’s able to wiggle out of even the smallest of gaps in his ‘tortoise-proof’ pen.
After losing the beloved pet dozens of times, Rosie and parents, Lucy, 42, and Jonathan, 55, as well as siblings Violet, 11, Daisy, 15, Clyde, 17, and Marigold, nine, decided to fit Mikey with a GPS tracker to ensure they could relocate him.
But even this hasn’t deterred 10-year-old Mikey, who has escaped four times in total and nearly escaped hundreds more – with his latest adventure lasting six months before he was found sunbathing back in the family’s garden.
After breaking out of multiple enclosures, the grumpy reptile has since been confined to a vivarium inside the family’s home in Nottingham while they decide what to do with him.
University student Rosie said: “Mikey is a determined tortoise and will spend his entire day trying to find ways to get out of his pen.
“We got him four years ago and we were all distraught the most recent time he went missing, as we thought we’d lost him for good.
“He has been caught almost escaping hundreds of times now and been missing for days, weeks and even months on four occasions since we have had him.
“He manages to burrow under the fence, climb over the fence or squeeze through small gaps onto the open fields as we live on a smallholding surrounded by horse fields.
“The last time was especially bizarre as my brother, Clyde, had transformed one of our horse’s outdoor enclosures into a huge tortoise paradise pen for Mikey.
“It had a foot-high fence and wood chippings covering the floor on top of rock so he couldn’t dig underneath or climb over.
“When he went missing, we were baffled – he must have climbed out but we questioned whether it could have been a bird of prey that lifted him up and then dropped him because he was too heavy, over the fence of his pen.”
Mum Lucy said since the tortoise’s miraculous return last month [March 20] – where he was found sunbathing in the garden of the Saxelby home, without a care in the world an entire half a year later – Mikey seems disgruntled.
Mum Lucy, a PR and social media executive, added: “He’s a bit like a grumpy old man since his return.
“He’s had a snotty nose which the vet diagnosed as a respiratory infection, which has now cleared up with antibiotics.
“He’s not super-friendly like some tortoises and doesn’t respond to his name or show too much affection but he quite happily sits on the kids’ knees when they’re watching TV – he likes the warmth.
“Now though, the horses have their yard and enclosures to themselves again and Mikey is confined to our bedroom in a vivarium, whilst we try and think of a Mikey-proof pen.
“He’s only thought to be around ten though, and they can live till they’re 100, so it’s going to have to be sturdy.
“We have 15 pets in total – including two basset hounds, a giant African Sulcata tortoise, three created geckos, three horses, two pygmy goats, two farm cats, and two goldfish but none of them have caused as much trouble as this tortoise.”