Pet Tortoise Found Alive and Well After 30 Years in Storeroom

Editorís note:†This post is a Care2 favorite. It was originally posted on January 31, 2013. Enjoy!

Thirty years ago, a family in Rio Janeiro, the Almeidas, concluded that Manuela, their red-footed tortoise, had escaped through a door left open by workers renovating the house. But just this week, Leandro Almeida was more than startled to discover that Manuela was very much alive, having lived for three decades in an upstairs storeroom.

For years and years, Leandro’s father, Leonel Almeida, had been stowing away electronic equipment (some of it broken) and other junk in the second floor of his house. After his death earlier this January, Leandro and his siblings cleaned out their father’s residence.

It was while Leandro was taking out bags of trash that a neighbor asked him if he was throwing out a pet, too. Leandro then discovered Manuela inside a box holding an old record player. “At that moment I was white and did not believe,” he says to

Veterinarian Jeferson Pires explains that Manuela was able to survive for nearly a third of a century surrounded by old televisions because red-footed tortoises like her can survive for long periods (two or three years) without eating. In the wild, the tortoises eat “fruit, leaves, feces, dead animals.”

Red-footed tortoises (Chelonoides carbonaria) are native to northern South America. Adults are about a foot long and can grow to be over 16 inches; Almeidas suspect that Manuela survived by living on termites.† does not say how long Manuela was after years of a very stringent diet.

It goes without saying that it is remarkable that Manuela survived for all those years, given that red-footed tortoises should ideally have water “at all times and at least every other day” to drink and soak themselves in; without these, they are likely to become dehydrated. A “wet muddy area” is also a plus. In addition, the tortoises also need UVB light to bask in, for vitamin D3 synthesis.

Manuela has now resumed the routines she enjoyed prior to her 30-year stay in the storeroom (which, the Almeidas suspect, someone may have placed her into). The tortoise is back to walking around the garden, eating leaves and getting to know a new generation of Almeidas. In captivity, red-footed tortoises have lived for about 30 years.†Here’s to hoping that Manuela, now that’s she been set free after so long, can enjoy her time in the sunshine, with some wet mud never too far away for her to wallow in.

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Photo from Thinkstock


Peggy B
Peggy B29 days ago


Peggy B
Peggy B29 days ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago


Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

This story is an impossibility. I wish they would stop reprinting it.

Piotr Grabowski
Piotr G3 years ago

So, what that teaches us? People, if you want your pets to live a long life - collect electronic equipment (if you are an electronic engineer, technician, hobbyist or maker - you're probably already doing that for parts to construct or repair other stuff). Therefore, electronic engineers/technicians/hobbyists/makers are the best pet-owners. :)

Just kidding.

Nevertheless, I'm wondering, if they dismounted the not-working equipment for some hard-to-find original parts or at least recycled it the proper way... ;) And if there were some oldskool retro computers like Amiga, Commodore 64, Atari which are collectibles nowadays. :)

Carla Bloemendaal

Just wonderful!

Caroline d.
Caroline d3 years ago


Aaron Bouchard
Aaron B3 years ago

thank you

jan b.
jan b3 years ago

REMARKABLE it survived ........ well when I read the part that tortoises should ideally have water “at all times and at least every other day” to drink and soak themselves in; without these, they are likely to become dehydrated......

.I didn't believe this story at all that this tortoise was confined all those years.