Long-lost pet tortoise found alive in family’s home 30 years later

It’s always heartbreaking when a pet goes missing, but you should never lose hope entirely: sometimes lost pets show up when and where you least expect them.

We’ve seen many stories of cats and dogs reuniting with their owners many years after disappearing, often thanks to microchips. But one story of a lost-and-found pet is truly remarkable: a tortoise who was found alive 30 years after disappearing… right in the family’s own house!

In the 1980s, the Almeida family, from Rio de Janeiro, owned a pet tortoise named Manuela. The tortoise lived a happy life as their pet, eating leaves and walking around their garden.


Until one day, Manuela suddenly went missing. Workers were doing construction on their house at the time, and they assumed the pet got loose. “I thought she had run away,” owner Sueli de Almeida told Brazilian news outlet G1.

The gate had been left open, so the family searched around the neighborhood for their pet tortoise, but he was nowhere to be found.

But thirty years later, the family got a surprise they never could’ve imagined.

In 2013, Leonel Almeida, the family’s patriarch, passed away. His children returned to their childhood home to clean out his possessions, which was no small task: the deceased had a hobby of fixing up old electronics, so the upper floors were cluttered with boxes and bags.

But while cleaning the house, the kids unexpectedly found an old friend. “I put the garbage bag on the floor and the neighbor just told me ‘are you going to throw the turtle away too?'” recalls Leonel’s son Leandro. “At that moment, I went white and I didn’t believe it.”

It was Manuela, still alive and well after 30 years!

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It sounds impossible, but tortoises are very resilient animals who can live for decades and can also go a long time without eating. The family suspects that the tortoise subsisted on termite larvae.

Needless to say, it was quite a shock for the family to discover their childhood pet was still going strong. “We were shocked!” granddaughter Nathalye De Almeida told The Dodo.

“My mom arrived crying because she didn’t believe it. They found Manuela!”

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After that unbelievable discovery, the tortoise (who now goes by “Manuel,” as the family discovered he’s actually a male) is still doing great. It’s been about a decade since he was found in the attic, and since then Nathalye has been taking good care of him.

“Manuel is doing great. He’s grown a lot,” Almeida said. “I brought him in to live with me because I have a lot of affection for him.”

She says her mother, who had the tortoise as a child, visits every week to feed and pet Manuel, a unique opportunity to see her childhood pet after four decades. Though he was hiding for 30 years, Manuel is still a special part of generations of this family.

“He’s part of our family. He is one of us,” Nathalye told The Dodo.

How amazing! It’s unbelievable this tortoise survived hiding for 30 years. It’s incredible that this family has him back after decades apart, and he’s still a beloved part of the family.

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