Family asks public’s help in finding missing 100-pound pet African tortoise


PANOLA COUNTY, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) The Panola County Texas Sheriff’s Office is asking the public’s help in finding a distraught family’s pet who has gone missing.

Tobi, an almost-100-pound African tortoise, wandered off from his home on Country Road 233 in Ridderville sometime Tuesday afternoon.

The reptile was a birthday gift to 7-year-old Rodey Romero from his dad, Kooter Romero, disappeared from the one-acre area that he had prepared for Tobi before bringing him home.

Romero said there’s a pond in the fenced area that is Tobi’s home and the water is low right now. He speculated the turtle could have dug out under the pond and somehow gotten out. “Tortoises are known to dig,” he said, adding that Tobi had dug out the bed he sleeps in.

Two sides of Tobi’s habitat are lined with a privacy fence, but there’s also wire mesh fence near the pond. “If a tortoise can see through a fence, they want to be on the other side.”

Romero, who said Tobi is 12 years old is young in tortoise years – they live more than 70 years. And they’re low maintenance, living on a diet of grass and vegetables.

Even better, he said, is that the huge turtle is gentle with Rodey and his 3-year-old brother, Ryder. It’s been especially difficult, Romero said, because the last two pets he gave the boys, bloodhound puppies, got out and were hit by cars.

The last time Tobi was seen was around noon Tuesday, Romero said, and when the family realized he was missing, relatives, neighbors and friends walked miles looking for for him.

Romero said early in the day, tortoises move around a lot, he said, but as evening comes, they slow down and start digging a place to sleep.

Romero thinks if Tobi doesn’t accidently get hit by a car, someone will spot him. It’s hard to miss a 100-pound turtle walking around. He asks that anyone who does see the reptile to give him a call at (903) 754-4082.

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