A tortoise that vanished TEN months ago has been found alive – after being dug up from its garden by a JCB.
Paul and Yvette White found mud-caked Sydney lying in a pile of rubble dug out for their new extension.
The couple last saw their five year-old pet in June last year and spent two weeks in vain looking for him.
They even called in a gun dog to see if he could sniff him out but to no avail.
But blacksmith Paul, 50, thinks the pet dug himself into the garden as much as ten months ago – mistaking last year’s cool summer outside his heated vivarium for winter.
The reptile then had even more earth piled on top of him as the couple carried out renovations to their ongoing barn conversion.
Paul says his pet might have struggled to dig himself free without the JCB ploughing five ft down in the earth to lay the foundations for the couples’ new build.
Paul said: “He’s normally kept in about a 25 or 26 degree controlled environment and we never let him hibernate.
“So when he got out last June there is every chance he mistook the cool summer for winter and burrowed his way underground.
“That would explain why we couldn’t find him – we even had my step-father’s gun dog out trying to sniff him out but we didn’t have any luck.
“Then about three weeks ago we got planning permission for a four-bedroom extension and started digging up the land to place the foundations.
“I started going through it all and spraying some pesticide when I ended up spraying Sydney.
“I wasn’t sure what to do at first because I thought he was a stone. He was absolutely caked in mud.
“I’m amazed how long he has managed to survive for. And I can’t believe he survived being dug up by the digger.
“It’s a miracle, I suppose. My wife is over the moon but she is working in London so still hasn’t seen him. She is absolutely delighted now.”
Sydney, a Horse Field tortoise, was bought for Yvette, 46, as a present for her husband in 2011.
The couple from Wisbech, Cambs. have now washed Sydney and returned him to his heated vivarium after his extended winter.
He has been checked over by a vet and given the all-clear.
Tortoises are known to bury themselves just under the surface of the earth as part of their hibernation pattern.