A GRANDMOTHER has appealed for help in locating her ‘rare’ tortoise believing he may have been stolen from her Barry Island home’s garden.

Torty, who is more than 45 years old and slowing down in preparation for hibernation, went missing from the Gwennol-y-Mor property on Thursday, October 18.

Sue Gorey, 67, has reported his disappearance to police.

Torty is a Spur thighed tortoise, rugby ball sized with a splash of green paint and a chipped shell.distinguishing him from other tortoises

He has not been micro-chipped.

The Sully-based International Tortoise Association, which has also received the report, is hoping that Torty may have “dug down”, rather than have been taken, and will emerge unscathed in the spring.

And they hope a dog, specially trained to “sniff out” tortoises, may be able to assist in discovering whether he has chosen to go underground, possibly confused by the change in climate this year.

Mrs Gorey found the tortoise in Llandaff, Cardiff, 45 years ago and has provided him with a home ever since – moving to Barry Island 15 years ago.

“I had two small boys when I got him.

“He lives in a hutch in the back garden.

“It’s like a rabbit hutch and not many people would know he’s there.

“I’ve got a walled garden.”

She said he had been slowing down, after feeding, in readiness for hibernation and disruption to the routine could put him at risk.

She said: “He’s been going in the garden and getting some sunlight for his vitamin D to get energy inside him.

“He likes peaches and strawberries and Little Gem lettuce.

“He’s been feeding so he’s full up.

“Last Thursday I discovered him gone.

“He’s a character – into everything.

“He knows my voice when I call Torty.

He comes up to you and he likes tickles under his chin.

“He’s got paint on his shell where he went too close to a fence and his shell has got a chip on it.”

“Please can I have him back,” she added. “I love him. I’m breaking my heart over it.”

The disappearance has prompted a reward to be offered. for information that leads to Torty’s safe return to his rightful owner.

In 1984 it was agreed with the now EU Council, with two other species of Mediterranean tortoise, that the Spur thighed, be placed on the endangered species list.

This means he is protected and commercial trade is strictly prohibited.

The Spur thighed tortoise is ranked higher than the Giant Panda on the endangered scale.

Anyone found to have stolen a Spur thighed tortoise can be jailed for up to seven years and face an unlimited fine, said the Sully-based International Tortoise Association.

Torty can be returned to the International Tortoise Association, based at 71, South Road, Sully, or any veterinary practice which will ensure his welfare.

A South Wales Police spokeswoman said: “The theft of a tortoise from a property in Gwennol -y Mor, Barry, was reported to us on October 18.

“Anyone who has been offered a tortoise for sale or who has any information can call us on 101 quoting reference 1800397549 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”