Samantha pines as romeo wanders

FORGOTTEN and forlorn – Samantha the 50-year-old tortoise has been left wondering if her aged beau has run off with someone else.As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star Thomas, a 100-year-old tortoise, seems to have loped off looking for love.

FORGOTTEN and forlorn – Samantha the 50-year-old tortoise has been left wondering if her aged beau has run off with someone else.

As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star Thomas, a 100-year-old tortoise, seems to have loped off looking for love.

But five weeks after he disappeared his one-time girlfriend still hasn't seen him and remains alone.

Samantha, a tortoise living about half a mile from her one-time beau, used to be regularly visited by Thomas.

Thomas has wandered off from his Forward Green home every August for the past five years – and on at least two of those occasions he ended up snuggled with Samantha in the bungalow where she lives in nearby Fen Lane.

One summer he even stayed for a whole month.

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But this time Samantha, a 50-year-old Mediterranean tortoise, seems to have been spurned as Thomas has failed to show.

Samantha's owner, Lindsey Lain, 44, has been left wondering whether Thomas' affections for the female tortoise – who is half his age – have faded away.

"The two of them used to get on very well," said Ms Lain. "I think they were amorously inclined – Tommy used to follow her around all the time.

"He tried to get his wicked way with her quite a few times, but I'm not sure if he ever succeeded.

"I don't know that Samantha is exactly pining for him, but I'm sure she would be pleased to see him."

But both Ms Lain and her 17-year-old daughter Rachel are losing hope that Thomas will turn up to reclaim his ome-time love.

"We were hopeful that he would show up," said Ms Lain, "But we have seen no sign of him. I'm not sure if he ever made it this far.

"Maybe he has gone off for a younger model than Samantha – even though she is a spring chicken in comparison."

Thomas, a Herman tortoise who has an orange scar on his left shoulder, has now been missing for five weeks.

Owner Roy Kerridge had even put up wire netting around the boundaries of his back garden in an effort to stop Thomas wandering off – especially during his frisky summer months.

But Thomas' desire to be footloose and fancy-free seems helped him outwit his owners.

Mr Kerridge, who lives opposite School Lane in Forward Green, is hoping Thomas will be found soon, especially as it nearing the hibernation season.

He has also warned anyone planning a bonfire that Thomas likes sleeping under piles of rubbish.

Anyone with information should contact Mr Kerridge on 01449 710351.

Mating seasons vary depending on the type of tortoise but generally it is between June and November.

Male tortoises are quite violent to their intended mates and bashing them shell to shell is part of the courtship.

The number of eggs laid varies. Female size seems to be one factor. A mature female might lay up to eight white, hard-shelled eggs in a clutch and produce two or three clutches in a season. Hatchlings from only a few eggs out of every hundred actually make it to adulthood.

The staple diet of tortoises is fruit, veg and grass.

The RSPCA believes tortoises do not make ideal pets and anyone found smuggling them in to the country face fines or imprisonment.

In June, Jimmy the spur-thighed tortoise from Felixstowe, went on a love hunt.

Jimmy is at least 45 years old, the oldest recorded spur-thighed tortoise was 126 years old when he died.

The Desert Tortoise, one of four species of the genus Gopherus, weighs between eight and 15lbs, it is between nine and 15ins long and up to six inches high. It eats herbs, grasses and wildflowers.

Tortoises are any of the land-dwelling turtles of the family Testudinidae.

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