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Slow tortoise makes fast getaway in Mid-Michigan, search underway

Posted at 8:45 AM, May 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-04 09:58:28-04

Many cats and dogs go missing every day in Mid-Michigan but there's one animal on the loose that has a neighborhood talking.

A pet tortoise managed to escape from his owners and now they're desperately trying to bring him back home.

The 15 lb. Sulcata Tortoise named ‘Little Foot’ escaped from home Monday afternoon.

“We were actually building an enclosure just for him now that he's an adult and can be left outside by himself,” said Chris Blackwell, who rescued Little Foot five years ago.

Little Foot usually spends his time roaming the Blackwell family home and the outdoors, the tortoise has never tried to escape in the past.

“He’s like a child to us in a way and I’m trying not to feel guilty about this whole thing,” said Blackwell. “It’s really unexpected that this would happen, we have cats and we have dogs and they’ve never tried to run off.”

For some community members, it’s taken a bit to realize a tortoise is actually on the loose in the community. The Blackwell family is overwhelmed by the support.

“We had a search party of everyone in the neighborhood of about 10 to 12 people or so searching with flashlights,” said Blackwell.

The search for ‘ittle Foot continued into Thursday as the Blackwell family searched dry land and near the waters of Crandall Park. They believe the tortoise is heading east along M-50 toward Eaton Rapids, based on numerous tips after taking to social media.

“It was really shocking to us that someone posted a picture of him the next day a couple miles away in a residential suburb,” said Blackwell. “They photographed it and put it online, they didn’t know that he was ours.”

Veterinarian Wayne Beasley, who often performs checks ups at Pruess Pets in Lansing, has pet tortoises of his own. Beasley says the Sulcata species can travel up to half a mile in one day.

“He’s got all summer to be found there is plenty of food for him,” said Beasley. “His biggest danger is going to be cars, for some reason they do like pavement because it's warm.”

As word continues to spread of Little Foot’s disappearance, the Blackwell Family remains confidence the reptile will make it home.

“I'm so happy that there are good people around who are texting me and calling me,” said Blackwell. “I've been contacted by over 100 people who are just hopeful.”

Blackwell says when Little Foot returns, they'll go as far installing a GPS tracker or even tie a balloon around his shell so he never goes missing again.

If you do spot Little Foot, you’re asked to call Eaton County Animal Control at (517) 543-5755.