Pet tortoise reunited with shell-shocked family after crawling off and getting stuck in wire fence for FIVE MONTHS

-Bugsy survived by eating foliage and hibernating through mild early winter
-He has rust on his shell from his time trapped in the wire fence

By Graham Smith

Safe and sound: Bugsy is reunited with a delighted Mae Cameron after he went missing for five months - only to be found stuck in a wire fence near the family home in West Wickham, Cambridgeshire

A family were stunned when they found their missing tortoise alive five months after it went missing - stuck in a wire fence.

Bugsy, a Hermann's tortoise, made a bid for freedom when he fled from his hutch in West Wickham, Cambridgeshire, last July.

But he only managed to cover a quarter of a mile before becoming trapped.

He survived by eating the foliage close to him and then hibernating through the mild start to winter.

The Cameron family - surgeon Malcolm, 43, Lucy, 43, Eve, 13, Charlie, 11 and Mae, seven - believe their beloved pet was stuck in the fence for nearly all of the five months he was missing.

They had given up hope of ever finding him when he was spotted rustling in the undergrowth by a friend of the family - coincidentally called Shelly - in December.

Mrs Cameron said: 'We were just so delighted when he returned we could not believe it. We thought he had been stolen or had been killed.

'It is just lucky we had a mild winter up to that point. If he was still there during this current cold patch he would have died.

'I think he must have been stuck there for the majority of the time he went missing its truly amazing he managed to survive.

'If he had not been stuck he would have dug into the ground to hibernate in September.'

Home at last: Bugsy poses for a photo with (from left) Mae, Eve, mother Lucy, and Charlie

Much loved: The Camerons had given up hope of ever finding Bugsy when he was spotted rustling in the undergrowth by a friend of the family

She added: 'Tortoises can also survive a long time without eating especially if the weather is mild because it helps to slow their metabolism right down. He was really undernourished and underweight when he was brought home.

'He had rust on his shell and the neighbours said he was stuck in tight so I think he must have been there a long time.

'He is now under heat lamps to get his temperature up and has put on some weight.'

Tortoise experts today said it is possible for the animals to hibernate in a variety of different environments and it was likely Bugsy had been helped by the mild weather at the start of winter.

A spokesman for Arbury Road Vets in Suffolk said: 'Tortoises can hibernate in different ways. Some people put them in the fridge, as the optimum temperature for them in hibernation is five degrees.

'Left to their own devices they tend to bury themselves.

'Keeping the tortoise awake and warm now is the best thing to do as it is unlikely it would sleep for long.

'The minimum time they should hibernate is six to eight weeks - the maximum about four months.'



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