A charming story has emerged of a pet tortoise that went missing throughout the winter months.
Just as the owners were losing hope, she was found by a member of the public.
Minnie the tortoise, aged 21, having escaped last August, survived 10 months in the Manx wild, managing to make it through the frost-riddled winter.
Advocate Ian Kermode, and his wife Denise who live in Kirk Michael, bought Minnie, alongside her companion tortoise Mickey from a pet shop in Camden, North London, in 2006, when the tortoises were four years old.
Ian said: ‘We think that Minnie the tortoise escaped by climbing up the mesh sides of her enclosure using her tiny claws to grip the wire, then toppled over the top into the garden.
‘From there she wandered off across the neighbouring fields.
‘We had seen her trying to climb the sides before but she never reached very far.
‘When Minnie first went missing we were very upset and roped in friends and family frantically searching and trying to find her in the neighbourhood. Mickey initially roamed around the pen looking for her but after a few weeks seemed to lose interest in life and became subdued.’
As the autumn nights set in, the couple were losing hope, but continued to look,peering behind bushes and sifting through leaves.
It was June this year, when they were told by one of their friends that a tortoise had been found by a member of the public in Kirk Michael, and handed in to the Manx Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Denise went to the Manx SPCA and said that the tortoise looked like Minnie, and a receipt of purchase of the pet was also presented.
Then Minnie was allowed home.
Ian said: ‘When the Manx SPCA allowed her home my wife Denise cried but I was more relived that the tortoise was alive and well and had survived such a bad winter.
‘There was frost and ice in early December last year and two inches of snow in March. Tortoises are cold-blooded, which means that if they freeze they will die.
‘We had almost resigned ourselves to never seeing her again, so it seemed a little miracle that she had managed to survive in the wild for almost a year.
‘We have made modifications to the pen by constructing a horizontal rim of mesh at the top of the sides which should mean that she cannot escape again.
‘Since Minnie has been back she is definitely more bossy and now puts Mickey in his place, so the experiences in the wild seems to have toughened her up.’
Minnie has become somewhat of a local celebrity after she was featured in the Manx SPCA’s weekly column in the Courier.