That’s not a Lᴏsᴛ pet, THIS is a Lᴏsᴛ pet! Manuela, a red-footed tortoise and beloved pet of the Almeida family of Rio de Janeiro, went ᴍɪssɪɴɢ in 1982 but she didn’t go far: the family finally discovered her in a furniture-choked attic room having sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇᴅ on termites for over 30 years.
Life went on for the tight-knit family from Rio’s West Zone and patriarch Leonel Almeida continued to salvage furniture and electronic equipment he found abandoned on the neighborhood streets, stowing it in an upstairs bedroom. When Leonel passed away in early January, his family saw a long-awaited chance to clear out the mass of mouldering furniture.
Leonel’s son Lenita said: “Everything my father thought he could fix, he picked up and brought home. If he found an old television he thought he might be able to use a part of it to fix another one in the future, so he just kept accumulating things.”
Leandro, Lenita’s brother, found a box with an old record player. He wanted to throw it away but his neighbor suddenly asked if he also meant to throw away the tortoise peeking out of the box. Manuela, the famous turtle who ᴅɪsᴀᴘᴘᴇᴀʀᴇᴅ 30 years ago, had made her own house. And she seemed to be fine.
Incredibly, the tortoise had somehow managed to sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ three decades trapped inside the storage space. She’d sᴜʙsɪsᴛᴇᴅ, her family suspects, by eating termite larvae in the overfilled room. Manuela’s family was thrilled. She was Aʟɪᴠᴇ and well — and, sure enough, she still is.
Lenita said: “We never dared go inside that room. We’re all thrilled to have Manuela back. But no one can understand how she managed to sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ for 30 years in there, it’s just unbelievable.”
Naturally, with stories like these, a lot of people questioned its nature with many skeptical about Manuela sᴜʀᴠɪᴠɪɴɢ without food, water, air, and vegetation. But these tortoises are tough!
Rio de Janeiro veterinarian Jeferson Pires says that red-footed tortoises are actually very resilient. “They are particularly resilient and can sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ for two to three years without food. In the wild, they eat fruit, leaves, ᴅᴇᴀᴅ animals, even feces.”