A TORTOISE found wandering across a Stirling street is thought to have crawled all the way from Arbroath.
The intrepid reptile, nicknamed Noddy by his rescuers because of his typically tortoise-like head movements, would have had to cover more than 72 miles to get from the home of the smokie to the spot where he was found.
At a speed of 0.13mph, said to be average for a healthy tortoise, the trip would have taken him nearly 554 hours, or more than 23 days, non-stop.
Experts at the Scottish SPCA say that in reality the determined testudine – the family name for tortoises, turtles and terrapins – may have taken months or even years to make the trip.
The charity, which is now caring for Noddy in its Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre at Balerno in Edinburgh, said that when he was found in Main Street, St Ninians, Stirling, on Saturday, he had a dogtag engraved with an Arbroath phone number glued to his shell.
Charlotte Leask, 23, who spotted him, said yesterday: “My flat’s on the first floor overlooking the street and I had just looked out because I was expecting a friend for lunch.
“I noticed the traffic had stopped and drivers had put on their hazard lights. Then I saw there was this little thing walking up the middle of the road.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I realised it was a tortoise.”
Ms Leask, who works in the postgraduate admissions office at Stirling University, said she ran downstairs and rescued Noddy, and tried ringing the number on his shell. When she found the line was dead, she took him to Central Scotland Police headquarters nearby. Officers there called the SSPCA.
She said: “He was a bit smelly and his shell was flaking from being out of doors for so long. He had potentially been on the road for a long time.”
Ms Leask, whose boyfriend Callum, 22, a bowling alley receptionist, is a tortoise lover, has told the SSPCA she will adopt Noddy if his original owner cannot be found.
She added: “It felt a bit like fate. I’d almost bought Callum a tortoise for his birthday.”
A spokeswoman for the SSPCA said: “Obviously, this tortoise once lived in Arbroath, and we can’t say for certain that he crawled all the way to Stirling, but it’s certainly not impossible.
“His shell is weathered and he has obviously been out of doors and on his own for a long time.
“It would be an incredible journey for a tortoise, but stranger things have happened.”
Last night Kenny Sharpe, assistant manager at the SSPCA’s Edinburgh and Lothians Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre, said Noddy was a male Hermanns tortoise.
“He’s a friendly wee guy, although his shell isn’t in the best condition,” he said. “When we saw he had an identity tag stuck to him we thought we’d have no problem reaching his owner, but unfortunately the details have not been kept up to date.”
He added: “We’d love to see him in a good home receiving the care and attention he deserves.”
Anyone who recognises Noddy is asked to call the SSPCA Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.