Five months ago, the Stone family’s pet tortoise, Roshi, went missing. Though high and low they searched, the distinctive reptile remained gone in the wind.
But, lo! On Tuesday at school, Stone’s son Jake glanced amongst the clover. And who did he see? NONE OTHER than his long-lost tortoise, ROSHI! In the words of the Lion King’s Rafiki, “He’s alive?! He’s alive!!!”
Jack was stoked, too.
Apparently, Jake knew Roshi was Roshi because of his distinctive markings. “No doubt,” wrote Stone.
He’s a rescue. A Russian tortoise. Rare in these parts. Also, exact same blotches on his shell. No doubt.
— Biz Stone (@biz) October 11, 2018
So how the heck did Roshi manage to not only survive, but put himself in place for a reunion? Apparently, Russian tortoises like Roshi are totally capable of these feats.
“Tortoises can last months without food and weeks without water, making them some of the most resilient animals on the planet,” Dr. James Liu, a turtle biologist and veterinarian with the Turtle Conservancy, told Mashable via email. “In fact, Biz’s tortoise is a Russian tortoise. Russians knew these animals were so tough, they launched them into space. As a result, tortoises are technically the first vertebrates in space. (And they survived after landing months later!)”
Unfortunately, what makes Russian tortoises so tough is also what enabled Roshi’s escape in the first place. Dr. Liu said that antics like Roshi’s are all too common.
“They are remarkable escape artists from gardens,” Dr. Liu said. “Russian tortoises like the one in the story can dig tunnels meters underground and even climb chain-link fences. Inexperienced pet owners lose them or the tortoises might just be underground hiding for weeks.”
turns out the tortoise downstairs is a boy and the name roshi still works cause it means old
— Biz Stone (@biz) September 5, 2006
The reunion might not be all coincidence, either. In addition to being resilient and sly, Russian tortoises have a great sense of smell — and even loyalty. Those qualities could have helped guide Roshi home.
“Tortoises have a good sense of smell and vision, and often recognize their keepers,” Dr. Liu said.
They follow their senses to food, mates, and water. It’s unlikely it was searching specifically for its owners, but if it was fed regularly by Biz and his son, it probably did notice a bunch of small humans nearby and was looking for a treat! I say give it all the dandelions it can eat.”
A grand adventure indeed.