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Vet: 77-lb. tortoise found wandering on a Massapequa street

Dr. Ned Horowitz, left, and assisant Will Tammaro,

Dr. Ned Horowitz, left, and assisant Will Tammaro, right, of Massapequa Pet Vet, hold a 77-pound African spurred tortoise July 26, 2017. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Slow and steady wins the race and captures the spotlight at a Massapequa veterinarian office.

Staff at Massapequa Pet Vet were perplexed Wednesday afternoon when a Nassau County police officer showed up with a 77-pound tortoise found by the side of the road in the Massapequa area. The veterinarian office is now looking to reunite the animal with his owner.

When veterinarian Ned Horowitz heard a turtle had arrived in the office, he thought it might be an alligator snapping turtle, a relatively frequent and unpleasant call, he said.

“We were surprised to see this guy,” he said. “He’s very pleasant and clean and domesticated.”

The unnamed animal, a male African spurred tortoise, appears to have been a well cared for, Horowitz said. He’s friendly and is already eating grass between walks around the office.

A Nassau County police spokeswoman said police did not have further information.

African spurred tortoises are desert animals and native to North central Africa, according to Reptiles Magazine. They’re generally sold at pet stores in the United States, Horowitz said.

They also are the third-largest species of tortoise in the world, which makes them a candidate for abandonment, Horowitz said. While babies might seem cute when they’re 2 to 3 inches, they grow up to weigh nearly 100 pounds, he said.

“When they get this large, they’re a bit of a mess. It’s like having a cow in your house,” he said.

Animal rescuers often hear about overwhelmed owners dropping their animals off at parks, Horowitz said.

It’s not likely that’s what happened here, though, given the tortoise’s good health, he added. The veterinarian said a more plausible scenario is that he simply escaped his home.

If this is your pet, contact Massapequa Pet Vet at 516-797-8387. Horowitz said callers must show proof of ownership.

This is the second African spurred tortoise to make local headlines recently. A 90-pound tortoise named Millennium was stolen from the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston, Queens, on July 16 and traded to a collector in Connecticut. Millennium was brought home to Queens on July 24.

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