Runaway tortoise returned to family over 200 days later

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 5:19 PM CDT
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AKRON, Ohio (WEWS) – We all know why the chicken crossed the road, but how about a reptile in Ohio?

A turtle in Avon Lake fled his home and was gone for more than half a year before being returned to his owners.

The turtle, Tiny Tim, has places to go and things to see as a rebellious reptile.

Vanessa Baker met Tiny Tim on her fourth birthday, and together, they’ve celebrated every birthday since.

“Well, now he’s the size of my 15-year-old hands,” she said.

It didn’t take Tiny Tim long to become a member of the family.

“Most people that know me know I have a tortoise,” Katie Baker, Vanessa’s mother, said.

One day last fall, Tiny Tim made his move.

There was a pint-sized hole in his outdoor enclosure that he escaped through.

“With a lost dog, you know, there is kind of a protocol with that,” Katie Baker said. “With a lost tortoise, it’s all about who lives near us.”

The family posted to Facebook and posted his mugshot on flyers.

“This was out all over the neighborhood,” Katie Baker said.

Weeks went by, then months. Winter came and left, and Tiny Tim was three shells to the wind.

“Didn’t hear anybody seeing him or anything,” Katie Baker said. “It was kind of … we lost hope for sure.”

The winter’s snow eventually gave way to spring, and 223 days after his great escape, the four-legged fugitive passed by the home of self-proclaimed reptile enthusiast Clayton Johnson.

“He was moving pretty fast for a tortoise,” Clayton said.

Clayton isn’t just any 12-year-old. The future herpetologist knew without a doubt that Tiny Tim belonged to someone.

When Clayton posted images of the tortoise, the Bakers were shell-shocked. They said they immediately began receiving calls.

In seven months, Tiny Tim had made it about a mile, played Frogger in traffic, and was looking for love in all the wrong places.

“It was just really heartwarming,” Clayton said. “I’ve never really had an experience like this, so it was really nice to get him back to where he belongs.”

The Bakers are beyond grateful for Clayton’s keen eye.

Now, they know they can’t let Tiny Tim out of their sight again.

Russian tortoises live to be up to 50 years old, which means Tiny Tim will have plenty of time to try again.

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