Residents of Buford, Georgia, were in for quite the shock when two large African spur-thigh tortoises were spotted in the city’s roads — having apparently escaped from their owner’s house.
As noted in a report from Atlanta news outlet WSB-TV, several people from a neighborhood in Buford recalled recently seeing the two tortoises wandering along Wallace Road, including one that was said to weigh close to 90 pounds. Resident Bryan Powers, who ended up rescuing the animals, recalled feeling shocked when he saw the tortoises for the first time, then concluding that they were most likely “somebody’s pets.”
Powers’ guess turned out to be correct, as the two tortoises — 85-pound male Luke and 30-pound female Mary — belonged to a woman named Cyndi Moore, and apparently escaped after a contractor forgot to lock the gates in her house. Speaking to WSB-TV, she described the animals as “sneaky” creatures who know when to take advantage of things when the gates are left open.
“Well, they graze a lot. They’re constant grazers. And the grass on the other side ‘is’ always greener!” said Moore.
Fortunately for Moore, Powers happened to spot the two African spur-thigh tortoises as they wandered around on the road. He then brought Luke and Mary home to show his children, and as he recalled, the kids enjoyed spending time with the animals, even if they only spent a few hours in their care.
“Oh, they had a blast. We had them for probably an hour and a half. “‘Better than a pony!’ ‘Ha!’ That’s as close as they’re gonna get.”
– Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo welcomes eight spur-thigh tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) who are making the Zoo their home for the summer. The African spur thigh tortoise, also known as the spurred tortoise, is the third largest species of tortoise i … – https://t.co/MSmUj3ckLp pic.twitter.com/77VY0lwnGb
— DoingItLocal.com (@DoingItLocalcom) June 8, 2018
Powers also told WSB-TV that he was surprised to see how large the tortoises’ feet were, and even more astonished at how fast they were, given how turtles and tortoises have a reputation for being among the slowest creatures in the animal kingdom.
“[Tortoises are] faster than you think. They move pretty fast. I bet they could cover 100 yards in two minutes.”
After taking to social media and sharing a few lost-and-found posts, Powers was able to reunite Luke and Mary with their thankful owner.
As big as Luke currently is, Moore told WSB-TV that there’s a chance he could grow even larger as he matures. She said that Luke — who is 15-years-old with a maximum life expectancy of about 100 years — could “weigh 150 pounds” once he grows up. That, however, could be a modest estimate, as Reptiles‘ fact sheet on African spur-thigh tortoises notes that males of the species could sometimes reach the 200-pound mark in old age.