Runaway tortoise missing for a year found just half a mile from his home

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A runaway tortoise has been returned home – after making it just 0.6 miles away from his family home.

Maxi had scaled a 12-inch fence to flee his enclosure but his escape attempt was finally thwarted after dog walkers spotted him in the middle of a Wiltshire field.

Susie Thomas and Linda Rogers came across the 14-year-old tortoise while walking the farm owner’s dog, just in time, as Maxi could have been crushed by a tractor if not found in time.

After finding Maxi, they took him home and took to Facebook to find out who might be missing a tortoise.

Behavioural Economics student Susie, 24, said: “We made sure to ask the possible owners to describe their tortoise and send pictures first so we could make sure we would definitely give it to the rightful owner – we were wary that people might just claim it to be theirs.”

After three days of searching, they found the owner Ruaidhri Jukes who lives a mere 0.6 miles from the field in Coombe Bissett, Wilts, where Maxi was found.

The Hermann’s tortoise – who could be distinguished by a distinctive chip on its shell near his head – had been missing since last August.

Maxi is about the size of a small ball with a shell that is about seven inches long and six inches wide.

Mr Jukes said he didn’t know how his tortoise escaped as he was in an outdoor enclosure with wire fencing 12 inches high.

The 23-year-old support worker said: “He would normally spend all day in his enclosure over the summer and I don’t know how he escaped – he just was not in there anymore.

“Maybe he climbed out but I don’t know.”

He added he ‘really couldn’t believe it’ when Miss Thomas got in touch to say his tortoise had been found as he had given up hope on finding him.

He said: “He has escaped before and been missing for a similar length of time. So, at first, I was confident that he might come back.

“But just before he came back, I had basically given up home but he got found and came back home – it’s crazy.”

The first time Maxi escaped his enclosure, he was found by Mr Juke’s neighbour nine months later as they mowed their lawn.

Maxi, who Mr Jukes has had since he was 10, is now back home.

Mr Jukes said: “He’s back and he’s safe and he needs a little bit of TLC but he will be okay.”