Family discover pet tortoise alive in storage room 30 years after it went missing

March 1st, 2021

When you think of spare rooms, you usually think about collecting clutter, dust bunnies, cobwebs, maybe even mold. One thing you’d least expect is a lost tortoise. Especially one that hasn’t been given food or water in 30 years.

Manuela, a red-footed tortoise, was the Almedia family’s beloved pet.

This sweet girl would spend her time wandering around the yard nibbling on grass and soaking up some vitamin D.

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Flickr/Jim, the photographer Source: Flickr/Jim, the photographer

One sad day, their beloved red-footed tortoise went missing.

Due to having workers tackling a project at their home in Realengo, Brazil, they feared that the yard gate was left open for Manuela to wander away.

The whole family was crushed at the thought of their family pet gone missing. The kids, Lenita and Leandro were absolutely crushed too. Their father Leonel had brought it home one day and everyone quickly fell in love with this special little tortoise.

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Flickr/Anthony Sokolik Source: Flickr/Anthony Sokolik

30 years later the family patriarch sadly passed away.

Their father was notorious for collecting broken and discarded electronics, equipment, and fixer-upper projects. He would stash them away in the spare room upstairs.

Over the years, he collected so many items that the stuff not only occupied the spare room but eventually the entire second floor of the home.

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Flickr/tomline43 Source: Flickr/tomline43

After mourning the loss of their beloved father Leonel, the kids were still tasked with dealing with the dreaded second floor full of his collections. Their father considered these items to be his most precious treasures, but everyone else thought it was all junk.

Little did they know they would stumble upon something that wasn’t even close to junk.

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Flickr/harveypekar84 Source: Flickr/harveypekar84

They were set to throw everything away. During this process, they stumbled upon a treasure they never expected to see again.

“He just kept accumulating things. We never dared go inside that room. Anything he thought he could fix on the street, he took. If he found an old television, he thought that in the future he could use some piece to fix a new one, and so things started accumulating.”

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Flickr/Kathryn Greenhill Source: Flickr/Kathryn Greenhill

It turned out that there was one very important treasure lumbering around the second floor, one that shocked everyone!

When the family entered the room, it was brimming with the items their dad lovingly stashed there.

It was musty and quite dirty.

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Flickr/Twentyfour Students Source: Flickr/Twentyfour Students

While trekking to the dumpster with armload after armload of items, a neighbor noticed something in one of the boxes.

“I put the box on the pavement…and a neighbor said, ‘You’re not throwing out that as well, are you?'”

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Flickr/dotLinda Source: Flickr/dotLinda

Hidden in the box that contained a broken record player was none other than Manuela!

“I went white and didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

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The family rejoiced at finding Manuela after three long decades. But how on earth did she survive?

No one had ever fed her or given her fresh water.

Rio de Janeiro veterinarian Jefferson Pires noted that the old furniture Leonel plucked off the street probably was infested with termites, especially after sitting in the spare room for so long.

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The tortoise probably survived all that time off the pests as well as other insects, and possibly condensation when thirsty. How is that even possible?

“[They] can survive for two to three years without food. They eat fruit, leaves, dead animals, even feces.”

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Flickr/Kurt Bauschardt Source: Flickr/Kurt Bauschardt

It’s a miracle Manuela lived 30 years in a spare room without anyone feeding her.

They do have fat pads they can use as sustenance when they cannot find food, but that’s only up to 3 years. It’s a miracle Manuela lasted 30 years.

“We’re all thrilled to have Manuela back. But no one can understand how she managed to survive for 30 years in there—it’s just unbelievable.”

Tortoises are known for being the longest-living land animals to date. Nobody will ever know how Manuela survived those 30 years without food or water. Talk about survival of the fittest!

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Source: Honest to Paws, The Post Game, ACH News, National Geographic, Globo