Thirty years ago, a family in Rio Janeiro, the Almeidas, concluded that Manuela, their red-footed tortoise, had escaped through a door left open by workers renovating the house. But just this week, Leandro Almeida was more than startled to discover that Manuela was very much alive, having lived for three decades in an upstairs storeroom.
Veterinarian Jeferson Pires explains that Manuela was able to survive for nearly a third of a century surrounded by old televisions because red-footed tortoises like her can survive for long periods (two or three years) without eating. In the wild, the tortoises eat “fruit, leaves, feces, dead animals.”
It goes without saying that it is remarkable that Manuela survived for all those years, given that red-footed tortoises should ideally have water “at all times and at least every other day” to drink and soak themselves in; without these, they are likely to become dehydrated. A “wet muddy area” is also a plus. In addition, the tortoises also need UVB light to bask in, for vitamin D3 synthesis.