Tortoise Escapes From Home, Makes it an Eighth of a Mile in 74 Days

  • Solomon is back home with his family, having spent two and a half months exploring the Tennessee countryside.

Ever had one of those nightmares where you need to outrun something? You’re sprinting, but no matter how hard you try, you don’t gain speed. That’s how it must have felt for this Tennessee tortoise trying to find the great wide somewhere. Solomon, an African Sulcata tortoise, made it just an eighth of a mile during his two-and-a-half-month journey away from home. It’s how I feel when I try to run a 5K. Or run down the block. Or move anywhere with alacrity. 

A Subdued Jailbreak

Photo by Luca Ambrosi on Unsplash

I’m more of a plodding sort, like Solomon. His rescuers spotted the 150-pound tortoise while he grazed in a construction site near his lifelong home. His family, who owned the 15-year-old since he was just an egg, can’t figure out how he could evade capture for so long. He’s not quick on his feet, and he makes for a substantial landmark–his shell’s about three feet long. But he looks very similar to a rock. 


Tortoises can live for over a hundred years, one of the longest lifespans of animals on Earth. So, Solomon is just in the middle of his rebellious teenage years, wondering what else is out there. He seemed pretty content to be back with the Cole family, who presented him with a plate of watermelon-his favorite food-on his return. 


They may not get as much hype as dogs, cats, or gerbils, but tortoises make great pets with the right care. You’ll finally have someone to share your life. They live inside for the first few years but need big backyards for roaming and doing tortoise things. Their native habitat is in the Sahara Desert, where they’re used to digging long, elaborate burrows to escape the heat. If you don’t keep an eye on them, they can destroy a backyard and even undermine a house’s foundation. 

Back Home and Happy

Photo by Jude Infantini on Unsplash

It sounds like the Cole family was planning on spending another 85 years with Solomon. They hung flyers, posted on social media, and even contacted zoos for help to find their pal. Now that he’s back, they’re reinforcing his pen and considered attaching a GPS tracker to his shell. Caked in mud, hungry, and tired, Solomon was still happy to be home. Sulcata tortoises form strong bonds with their owners.

“I guess we will never know the full details of Solomon’s great adventure and how he managed to elude us all for so long.” Lynn Cole told the Associated Press, “Solomon is now safely at home and, as such, so much joy has been returned to our family.”