AVON LAKE, Ohio – Once thought of as three bullets to the wind, a wayward reptile named Tiny Tim escaped its owners in Avon Lake and went missing for 223 days until a chance encounter this week with a 12-year-old reptile enthusiast. years.
The insidious story of Tiny Tim, a 12-year-old Horsfield tortoise, was the subject of discussion in the Waterside Crossings subdivision in Avon Lake this week after this months-long escape from his outdoor enclosure ended with his return to the her own gratitude and euphoria, 15-year-old Vanessa Baker.
Baker, whose lifelong affinity for tortoises and tortoises of all shapes and sizes, received Tiny Tim as a birthday present when he turned four. Much like his canine companions, Tiny Tim has become an indelible part of the family, despite the fact that he went to great lengths to distance himself from them.
“I love turtles so much, and this was a dream that came true when I got it. Since then, it’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to me, “Vanessa Baker said.” In all the ten years we’ve had it, she’s been trying to get out of here.
Tiny Tim’s reputation precedes him. It takes just a few seconds of inattention and he leaves for the races, methodically trudging on concrete, stone and grass. He is a turtle on a mission.
“There’s always another place where it has to be. I don’t know what it is. He is a little traveler. She loves to go everywhere, “Vanessa Baker said.” She always goes somewhere.
In fact, the turtle had escaped a couple of times before. Each time, however, he was quickly caught, often without ever getting past the neighbor’s bushes.
“When we arrived [Tiny Tim], I told Vanessa that Russian tortoises live 50 years. She will stay with you while you go to college. She will stay with you in your first apartment, ”said Katie Baker, Vanessa’s mother. “She is with you all the time. When she left us, I didn’t think she would be the end of our story. “
One day last fall, after years of plotting and planning, Tiny Tim had his moment. A small hole had developed in his outer enclosure, giving him enough space to escape from custody. This was his moment. This was his “Shellshank” Redemption.
Known for digging and digging several inches into the ground, Tiny Tim’s escape wasn’t detected by the Bakers until a day or two later. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. The hope of finding Tiny Tim began to fade.
“We didn’t think we would find it, really. It was winter and there was snow and all. We really tried not to [lose hope]”Said Vanessa Baker. “I didn’t think I’d see her again to be honest because she’d been gone for seven months.”
Immediately after his escape, the Baker family printed “missing” posters with Tiny Tim’s bewildered face emblazoned on the front. It looked more like a mugshot than anything else. In addition to posting flyers around their home and the nearby footpath, the family posted on the neighborhood’s Facebook page.
“With a lost dog, you know, there’s some kind of protocol with that. With a lost turtle, it’s about ‘those who live near us,’ “said Katie Baker.” We haven’t heard anyone report seeing it or anything. We’ve lost hope for sure. “
When the snow finally turned into spring, there was an even greater threat: lawnmowers. Still motionless, the family continued to search for the reptile. Then, on Wednesday, about a mile away from the Baker family home, Tiny Tim was spotted by a keen-eyed and inquisitive 12-year-old delivery driver named Clayton Johnson.
“A delivery boy stopped in the middle of the road. He saw a turtle on the road and asked me if it was mine, but it wasn’t, “Johnson said.”[The tortoise] it was moving fast enough, for a turtle, of course.
Johnson then went on the hunt, quickly confirming that Tiny Tim was not a native species of Ohio. This information told him that Tiny Tim must be someone’s pet. A quick Facebook post then left the Bakers shocked.
“Just when he released it, within five minutes, several people started calling us,” said Katie Baker.
Using a clear scar on Tiny Tim’s shell, the Bakers knew they had finally found their long-lost turtle. By sheer luck, Tiny Tim was unharmed and healthy. The Bakers believe he may have hid in the ground near the pond behind their house and stayed there for much of the winter.
“It was really moving. I’ve never had an experience like this, so it was really nice to bring him back to his place, ”Johnson said.