Roaming reptile reunited with ‘thrilled’ owners

Mary Reed with Tigger, Bella the tortoise and her owners Mr and Mrs Gammond at Pooh House and Gardens in Fittleworth
Mary Reed with Tigger, Bella the tortoise and her owners Mr and Mrs Gammond at Pooh House and Gardens in Fittleworth
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The mystery of the tortoise believed to have undergone a mammoth trek from its home in Twickenham to a Sussex garden has been reunited with its owner.

The happy ending comes after Mary and Paul Reed, of Pooh House and Gardens, were featured in our Animal Magic page last week in the hope of finding who the roaming reptile belonged to.

Nicknamed ‘Twickers’, the 11-year-old Herman tortoise was found grazing in the couple’s one acre of land in Fittleworth at the beginning of the month just in time to make a guest appearance at their open day last weekend - where the delighted owners eventually came forward on Sunday, August 18.

“With about an hour left to go of our open day weekend, the owners turned up,” explained Mary, who began her three-week quest for the owners by knocking on doors in the local neighbourhood.

“They were one of the houses that I called on but they were away at the time.”

Now the owners, Mr and Mrs Gammond, are said to be ‘thrilled’ to have ‘Twickers’ the wandering tortoise back - whose real name is in fact Bella.

They also revealed that they had moved to the village last year which explained why Springfield Veterinary Surgery in Midhurst, where Bella stayed for the duration, traced her back to Twickenham through a micro-chip.

“This fellow, now a little girl, we have found out can cover huge distances and climb wire fences which wasn’t so fanciful when we joked she’d taken 11 years to make the journey from Surrey,” added Mary.

“And it explains how it got in to our top woodland acer garden in the first place where she was found originally by Paul playing with the dogs.”

Mary thanked the network of support they received including the loan of a large and secure run from Gatley’s Pet Shop in Pulborough, Sussex Bird and Reptile Rescue for their advice during the saga and Springfield vets for giving Bella a place to stay.

“It’s fantastic to have such a happy ending,” continued Mary.

Mary would have however been happy to keep Bella if her owners had not been found. “We always end up with rescue dogs that we rehome,” she said. “We’ve had ferral cats, kittens and rehomed them. All these things happen at Pooh House.”

The couple’s quarry gardens, which have been around for 27 years, are regularly open to the public in aid of children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House.

The gardens will next be open on September 28 and 29. Visit www.poohhouseandgardens.com