A large tortoise on the loose in a Titusville neighborhood has been returned to its owner after snacking on neighbors' lawns.

  • 50-pound tortoise digs its way to freedom in Titusville
  • It was found several homes down the street
  • Male African spurred tortoises can grow to 200 pounds

Titusville Police were called out to Elder Street just after noon Thursday after a neighbor saw the African spurred tortoise eating grass on the side of his home.

Officers initially called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but then another neighbor came by and said he knew where the tortoise's owner lived, four houses down.

So officers went to the owner's home, and he "identified" his 50-pound pet and carried him home.

"They dig burrows," owner Justin Cadiz said. "They dig to stay cool, and I guess he got out from under the back fence."

A large hole could be seen under the fence where the tortoise dug itself to freedom.

Cadiz said he didn't know the reptile had gotten out and said he would keep a better eye on it.

African spurred tortoises are often kept as pets, but people who buy them as cute babies may not realize that they're one of the largest species of tortoise, with males able to grow to 200 pounds, according to the San Diego Zoo. They find relief from heat by digging into burrows.

African spurred tortoises are one of the largest species of tortoise, according to the San Diego Zoo. (Greg Pallone, staff)