A pet tortoise that vanished more than three years ago in Florida has been found alive and reunited with its owner.
The Putnam County Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook Saturday that their deputies came across an "unusual-looking" tortoise that was attempting to cross a state road in the town of Interlachen, about 30 miles east of Gainesville.
They later discovered that the reptile was an African sulcata, which is native to the southern edge of the Sahara Desert.
Wildlife experts told the sheriff's office that these tortoises are known to be "escape artists" and can dig out of their enclosures.
Deputies had a hunch that it was somebody's pet because they said the female tortoise enjoyed the company of people and "head pats."
The tortoise was taken to Florida's Wildest Animal Rescue, where the agency said one of their Facebook followers sent them a post from April 2020 of a sulcata tortoise that looked similar to one found and had disappeared from the same area.
They were able to compare photos from the original post and learned the tortoise had been missing since 2020. The reptile was found five miles from where it originally vanished.
The sheriff's office and animal rescue said they were able to reunite the owner with her tortoise.
It was in a "little rough shape" after enduring a few cold winters but is expected to be OK.
This story was originally published by Scott Sutton with Scripps News West Palm Beach.