LENEXA, Kan. — A runaway tortoise found its way back home in a Johnson County neighborhood.
A 7-year-old helped make it happen and the tortoise’s owner could not be happier about the reunion.
Fredericka is back home with a full belly after being lost for nine months. Her owner said it’s incredible she survived the winter months.
For eight years, Jan Langton always kept her pet tortoise in a pen.
“And I thought, gosh, she could have the whole backyard,” Langton said. “So, I took her, and I tried to put her through every banister, sideways and that way – she couldn’t get out – not possible.”
Fredericka, a 17-year-old tortoise, took her newfound freedom too far and traveled outside the fence.
“I got that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach,” Langton said.
She took to Facebook and posted flyers throughout the neighborhood. Lots of people offered help, but couldn’t put their finger on the right reptile.
“And they go, is this her? And they’re holding a snapping turtle and I’m like, no, you can put the snapping turtle down now.”
Another Lenexa neighbor brought over a blood hound to walk through the woods filled with ticks and critters, but the search turned up empty.
Until nine months and 15 days later.
“I found it,” 7-year-old Henry Miles said.
Henry and his dad found Fredericka.
“I said, Dad there’s the tortoise,” Henry said, “and then he grabbed a bucket and then put him in there, and then we took him to the tortoise lady, and then I got my reward.”
In May, they mowed two feet of grass, and the 7-year-old made the spot, only five doors down from Fredericka’s home.
“He saw her rear end going right in,” Langton said.
It was unlikely Fredericka would make it through the cold winter.
A herpetologist told her on rare occasions they can survive 37-degree temps if they’re burrowed at least six feet underground.
“If I could figure out a safe way to put a GPS tracker on here I would,” Langton said.
While out in the wild, Langton said Fredericka fought off a raccoon and has the scars on her shell and eye to prove it.
She has brighter days and lots of blue berries ahead — Russian tortoises can live to be 100.
Miles got the $400 reward.
He put $200 in the bank and spent the other $200 on soccer cards, Lego and a cookie.