Lost turtle turns up after 5 years

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2013
Murtle is reunited with Jorja Sellwood
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

TOUGH CRITTER: Murtle is reunited after five years with Jorja Sellwood, left, after being found by former neighbours Tayla Houliston and her dad Paul Duston near their Lorneville duck pond.

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Murtle, a missing pet turtle, which its owners feared was dead, was found yesterday, almost five years after it disappeared.

Paul Duston found his former neighbours' pet while riding his motorbike in his Lorneville paddock.

"I almost ran over it. At first I thought it was a toy but then it moved its head," he said.

He remembered his former neighbours telling him before they moved that they had lost their pet turtle and they thought perhaps it was hiding in his duck pond.

Yesterday, Karina and Craig Sellwood and their daughter Jorja, who now live at Myross Bush, were reunited with their pet.

The family thought their turtle had died after they heard about a turtle shell that was found near the property a few years ago.

"We are delighted to have Murtle back; it was such a surprise when Paul phoned: we were astonished and could not believe it at first," Mrs Sellwood said.

She last saw the turtle on a hot January day in 2008.

"We used to let Murtle dig holes in the garden, and one day I left her for about 30 minutes and when I got back she had gone," she said.

Everyone in the family was upset and searched everywhere but the turtle had disappeared.

Murtle was still about the same size but its shell was worn and it looked grumpy, she said.

Mr Sellwood could scarcely believe the turtle had survived cold Southland winters.

"We were always told to warm the water for the turtle because it needed heat, but if it braved the Southland weather, it must be tough," he said.

Mr Duston and his family believe the turtle may have lived in the pond next to the house, eating tadpoles. His family would turtle-sit for a few more days until the Sellwood family built a new enclosure for their long-lost pet.

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- The Southland Times

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