LOGAN SQUARE — A pet turtle has been reunited with his Logan Square family after he was missing for four days thanks to conscientious neighbors and a powerful social network.
The saga started last Wednesday evening, when the Peroulas kids, whom the turtle belonged to, discovered their pet turtle, named Mortise the Tortoise, had escaped from his outdoor enclosure. Devastated, the kids, ages 10, 12 and 13, searched until it got dark out, but came up empty.
“They were crying and upset,” said Rebecca Peroulas, the kids’ mom. “I assumed he was gone. I think my husband was holding out hope that he’d come back.”
It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that a couple walking their dog stumbled across Mortise peeking his head out of a hedge on a side street off Logan Boulevard. Worried he was a lost pet, the couple scooped up Mortise, and knocked on the nearest door, which happened to be neighbor Catherine Nelson’s.
“Normally people would say, ‘Oh that’s interesting,’ and keep walking. These people stopped and said, ‘This could be a lost pet,’ and came and rang my doorbell to ask if we had a lost a turtle,” Nelson said.
Mortise didn’t belong to Nelson, but she took him in anyway. First she solicited help from her teenage daughter, who identified Mortise as a Russian tortoise. The main difference between tortoises and other turtles is that tortoises live on land, Nelson’s daughter learned.
Then Nelson posted photos of Mortise to Logan Square-centric Facebook groups, and within just 20 minutes, neighbors identified Mortise as belonging to the Peroulas family.
“It was remarkably efficient,” Nelson said.
Fifteen minutes later, the Peroulas kids were running over to Nelson’s house to retrieve Mortise. The kids were elated — and a little shocked, according to their mom.
“I’m just so grateful that people took the time to post it on Facebook and ask,” Rebecca Peroulas said.
Mortise is doing well after his four-day adventure in the wild — “all back to normal,” Rebecca Peroulas said. Her kids have secured his enclosure so he can’t get out again.
But it’s hard not to imagine what could’ve happened to Mortise if neighbors hadn’t stepped in. Over the course of four days, the tortoise traveled down the block and across a side street. At any point, a car could’ve run him over, Rebecca Peroulas said.
“If [Mortise] kept going in his current direction, he may have ended up in Logan Boulevard, which definitely would’ve been dangerous,” Nelson said.