Pet turtle digs in and lives 30 years in family's junk room

Red-footed tortoise on some junk
Manuela on some junk
Photograph by: Perla Rodrigues , TV Globo

While I’m slightly skeptical about the “just so” nature of this story, it’s still an adorable story, and I don’t see any aspects of it that make it particularly implausible. Apparently, a pet turtle (technically a tortoise, but turtles are turtles, I have it on good authority!) got lost in a junk room and, thirty years later, while the dad’s kids were going through his stuff after he died, they discovered the turtle had made a nice little home for itself next to a turntable and survived several decades on, probably, termites.

“At that moment I was white and did not believe,” explains Almeida.

Crawling around in a box with an old record player was Manuela, a red-footed tortoise the family had written off as lost back in 1982.

Manuela had disappeared during a home renovation, and the Almeidas always assumed he had escaped through a door left open by workers. However, it seems Manuela was hanging out for 30 years in the upstairs storeroom where Leonel Almeida, the father, kept all sorts of old junk he hadn’t gotten around to fixing up.

When Leonel died earlier this month, Leandro and his siblings decided to clean out the storeroom, and that’s how Manuela came to be by the curb.

Poor little guy. If that is indeed the same tortoise, the poor thing didn’t have a lot of contact with either his own kind, or his humans, or anything to occupy his attention except wandering around in a storage room hunting termites. I suppose that might be a fulfilling life for a turtle, not having to fear jaguars that predate on them in the wild, but red-footed tortoises are at least semi-social, not acting aggressive or defending territory when others are around.

Hat tip to Sinned34 for sending this story along.

Pet turtle digs in and lives 30 years in family's junk room

14 thoughts on “Pet turtle digs in and lives 30 years in family's junk room

  1. 6

    I wasn’t aware of the need for UVB, but they’re actually omnivores. Depending on the diet, they need more or less water — but with a diet of termites, they probably have more protein than they can handle and would need access to fresh water.

    However, they can go without eating for a long time, years even, and if it’s a relatively humid environment wouldn’t necessarily need a lot of water.

    But you’re right, living 30 years without any source of water would be ridiculous. I’m really hoping they have another explanation for that, or else it’s almost certainly a different turtle.

  2. 7

    As a vet tech, there is no way this turtle lasted 30 years in there. Either there is access to the outside, somehow, or it’s a ‘joke’ on just how messy that room was.

  3. 8

    Yeah, I’m going to call BS on this story too. It’s more likely that this is a different tortoise that made it’s way into their home, especially if there was no water for it to drink.

  4. 9

    I never had a pet turtle but I’ve had some cats. One of them disappeared and was gone for about four years before returning to my front door. She was brought back by the dog that I had at the time. Seems the dog found her under a bush somewhere and took a notion that I’d like to see her again.

    Her corpse was perfectly mummified and because her pelt was so well preserved I recognized her instantly.

    The dog was duly rewarded and felt very highly of himself for quite a while thereafter.

    She was just a small thing and I had thought all along that she had probably fed some raptor chicks. It was moving to discover that her death had been less traumatic. She received a properly solemn burial and there she still lies.

  5. 11

    The picture clearly shows a early to mid 90’s monitor screen beside the turtle. If anyone was still leaving junk there throughout the years, how come nobody found the turtle up until now?

  6. 13

    sNothing: this was the junk room of the father of the family. If it made its home with the turntable in the picture, and that monitor was next to it, it’s possible that the father secretly kept feeding and giving water to the turtle. Maybe there was a reason it was hidden away in the father’s junk room.

    Or maybe the whole thing is made up as a feel-good story. A “Fry’s dog waited” story.

    carlie: AdSense tailoring is just weird. I mostly get gadget ads from places like Dell. I might actually click on a “buy a turtle online” ad.

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