Turtle comes home after seven months

22:59, Oct 09 2012
Tainui Rest Home’s Anne Mattson with the home’s pet turtle Rocky
ROAMING ROCKY: Tainui Rest Home’s Anne Mattson with the home’s pet turtle Rocky, who went missing for seven months.

Many of the residents at Tainui Village Rest Home had given up hope their runaway pet turtle would ever return.

That was until last Saturday, when Rocky came a-knockin'. After wandering out of the garden seven months ago, the 9-year-old turtle surprised a staff member when it pulled itself up onto a resident's door and began knocking its shell against the glass to signify its homecoming.

Diversional therapist Anne Mattson said it wasn't unusual for their two pet turtles to knock at the door, which often happened when they felt they had spent enough time outside.

"That was her way of saying, I want to come home."

Although Mrs Mattson had never lost complete faith in Rocky returning, she had filled her tank with goldfish.

"I thought oh, she's not coming back so I'll get some fish in there."


After consultation with New Plymouth's Pet Essentials store, they were told Rocky had probably been hibernating for the past seven months.

"Apparently she's still in hibernation mode. She's still a bit slow," Mrs Mattson said.

"When she came back her shell was very worn and she was very dirty with a mouth full of mud."

Mrs Mattson said having the turtles at the home had been a big adventure and a learning experience for the residents, who had been upset at the turtle's disappearance.

"We don't just have one mother here - we have about 60 mothers and fathers and they were all pretty upset about it.

"Not a day went by when someone would say: ‘Have you found the turtle? Is the turtle back?' "

Someone who never lost faith was Molly Mercer, 85, who dreamt about Rocky's knocking two weeks ago.

"I really did think she would come back. I wasn't at all surprised when they said she was home."

Jim Holdaway, 89, even shed a tear when he heard that Rocky had arrived home in one piece.

"She's not a silly turtle," he said.

"There's no place like home."

For those who are somewhat puzzled by the idea of a turtle knocking on a door, the Taranaki Daily News was given a demonstration on how the reptile carries out such an activity.

The turtle raises itself up onto its hind legs, so its front legs are resting on the door.

It then turns from side to side, tapping its shell on the glass.

Taranaki Daily News