IF only Arnie had told his owners “I’ll be back” there would have been no reason to panic.
But when the speedy tortoise raced from a house in Livingston, he left his owner – who had brought him up from England during a short stay at her mother’s – devastated.
Arnie, who was found by a neighbour strolling along a main road in the Cedarbank area of the town on Saturday, was amazingly one of two tricky tortoises handed in to the Scottish SPCA in the Lothians over the weekend.
His owner, Kay Burns, had travelled from Scunthorpe to visit mum Margaret and decided to bring her beloved chum with her.
Margaret said: “We were all outside. Arnie was on the grass when suddenly we noticed he had disappeared. We were looking under bushes, but we couldn’t find him.
“My daughter phoned the vet to see if a tortoise had been handed in, so that helped us to be reunited with him. Kay was very upset when she had to go back to Scunthorpe without him.”
But all has been forgiven and Arnie, who is believed to be around 40 years old, is now lined up for a special role at a major family event.
“When I called to give my daughter the good news, she was crying. Kay is getting married in August so I have said to her that Arnie will have to be the guest of honour at the wedding.
“Arnie has never done anything like this before, but he is a bit of a character,” she said.
“He gets into a vegetable patch in my daughter’s garden and she has no idea how. He climbs and is very fast, a bit like a racehorse.”
A second tortoise handed in to the Scottish SPCA is now at the Edinburgh and Lothians Animal Rescue and Homing Centre at Balerno, awaiting her owner to come forward.
The pet, who has been named Phoebe, was found in a garden in Broomhall Road, in the South Gyle area, on Friday.
Kenny Sharpe, assistant manager at the rescue centre, said: “Owners have to realise that tortoises are very strong and really quick off the mark. If the owner puts them outside under a cage that is not properly weighted down, then they can push up from underneath and escape.”
He urged owners who allowed their pets outdoors to take precautions should they go missing.
“We would encourage owners to get their tortoise microchipped. The chip goes into the back leg for identification,” he said.
Anyone who recognises Phoebe is urged to call the animal helpline on 03000 999 999. If no-one claims her then she will be rehomed.