My Willy, also known as Speedy, went missing. We looked everywhere and could not find him. Not in the garden, where he normally resides. Not in any neighbours' gardens, because we asked them. Not in the house, because he is never allowed inside; although we did search the house just in case. Not in the garage, not in the car, or indeed not anywhere. Willy went missing.
I knew my Willy was not hiding in some orifice or corner somewhere because he is totally claustrophobic. He is the only tortoise I know who gets really stressed about going back into his own shell. He hibernates in winter with his head and legs hanging out of his natural home. He prefers the outdoors. We have to wrap his head in a small scarf we've knitted for him and put his legs in home-made socks to keep him warm.
We've had him for two years or so and he shares the garden with a rabbit. They often lunch together on a leaf or two of lettuce and they wander about always under the watchful eye of someone in case they get throught the hedge to the neighbour's garden. At night they are put in their cage for safety. Willy is always out in the garden early in the morning jumping and running around with his friend the rabbit.
Obviously what happened is that one day last week, or should I say one evening last week, we forgot to put them in the cage for the night. It happened before with no great problem. The next morning they were both there waiting to be fed. But this time, the rabbit was there, but not Willy. He had vanished.
Being a tortoise, we did not think he'd gone very far. We searched everywhere as already mentioned and we could not find him. We printed leaflets with his photo, (we could have used a photo where he is smiling, but never mind), and then we pinned the leaflets to trees and lamposts in our area. We posted leaflets in neighbours houses asking them if they'd seen Willy; but to no avail. No one had seen him.
Then yesterday he was found. He was up a tree in our garden. There he was. Sitting on a branch some twenty feet up from the ground. Totally unperturbed and happy with his surroundings.
How did he get up there? I thought. Tortoises don't usually climb trees do they? More to the point, how do we get him down? It's certainly not something I'd want to do, climbing all the way up there.
Perhaps if we called him down and we all held a large sheet into which he would fall safely? No use. He is as deaf as a deaf bat ... sorry, only simile I could think of on the spur of the moment.
I phoned the pet shop where we normally buy the lettuce leaves to feed him and the rabbit. The man there told me that perhaps he took fright at something he saw and ran up the tree. Perhaps he saw someone with face cream and hair in curlers and that was enough to send him into a total panic. Now I'll admit that once or twice I may have ventured in the garden with my skin softening and conditioning cream on, and a curler or two in my hair; but that would not have frightened Willy, surely? Anyway, how did the man in the pet shop know I use face cream?
Eventually, one of our neighbours who is not afraid of heights came round and brought Willy safely down to terra firma. You should have seen him waggling his tail and jumping at our legs in delight. I mean Willy the tortoise was jumping at our legs, not the neighbour who brought him down! The rabbit was so happy to see Willy that they chased each other round the garden as they often do when playing. The neighbour was so delighted that he ran round chasing them also.
Totally exhausted, we put them both in their cage with an extra lettuce leaf each to celebrate.
We still don't know how Willy got up the tree. Any ideas?
Personally, I think he was over enthusiastic on the trampoline and he bounced himself so high that he landed on the branch twenty feet up.
This is me and our neighbour on the trampoline celebrating the return of Willy the tortoise.