Houdini the tortoise lives up to his name, makes a daring escape in Yarmouth

Houdini munched a snack after he was found, with Timothy Parsons, natural resources officer, and Jennifer Rotondi who found the African spurred tortoise.
Houdini munched a snack after he was found, with Timothy Parsons, natural resources officer, and Jennifer Rotondi who found the African spurred tortoise.

Gather round, everyone, young and old. In an impressive stunt sure to amaze and delight the entire family, Houdini the African spurred tortoise disappeared from his owner’s yard last week on Cape Cod only to appear five days later, unharmed, having trekked the distance of — yes, folks! — nearly 4 miles.

“I can’t quite figure out how he was able to travel that far,” said Tim Parsons, a natural resources officer in Yarmouth. “I'm not sure if somebody picked him up and tried to move him somewhere. That’s a very far distance for a tortoise to travel.”

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The turtle disappeared from the home of Marlene Ryan and her husband Wednesday, prompting them to put up flyers around town. The couple are seasonal residents of Yarmouth, who reside in Kentucky for most of the year, according to Yarmouth police.

The turtle traveled from South Yarmouth, near Nantucket Sound, to a location across Route 28 near some cranberry bogs, Parsons said.

Police said they believe someone picked up the tortoise and dropped it near the bog thinking it would provide a safe environment.

A local couple spotted the tortoise Sunday and brought him to the Yarmouth police station, where the owners picked it up. Parsons said the couple were grateful the tortoise was recovered, as they were leaving for Kentucky within a few days.

The Ryans couldn’t be reached for comment today or elucidation on what inspired them to name their tortoise after the noted escape artist.

Houdini faces no penalty for his escape, police said.

“After reviewing the case, we have decided that no escape charges will be filed,” Steve Xiarhos, Yarmouth deputy police chief said in an e-mail.

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