For 33 years Natasha Green had cherished her beloved pet Sid the tortoise – until thieves stole the endangered reptile from her garden.
Natasha, who was given Sid and his female companion on the day she was born discover the treasured creature had been snatched from Orchard Road in Street over the weekend.
She has now launched an appeal for his safe return, warning Sid could die without her, as he is supposed to be hibernating for the winter.
“Whoever took him prised the roof off the shelter he had been put in for the winter,” she said.
“I’m gutted – I’ve had him since I was a baby – and I’m just so worried about him.
“Tortoises require a lot of specialist knowledge to take care of them properly, you need to know all about them in order to keep them going.”
Natasha said that she had informed the police of the theft, but was hoping that readers of the Central Somerset Gazette may be able to reunite her with Sid.
“It might be that someone has been offered a tortoise, or seen someone who has a new one,” she said.
“I’m so worried about him, we just want him back.”
Hermann’s tortoises are found in the Mediterranean, from southern France to Turkey and in the Balkans and central Mediterranean islands.
They have a slightly hooked upper jaw and, like other tortoises, possess no teeth, just a strong, horny beak.
Until 1984, when the United Kingdom introduced an import ban, tortoises were regularly shipped from Mediterranean countries under cruel and cramped conditions.
It is hoped the underside of Sid’s shell, which is the equivalent of a human fingerprint and unique to each individual tortoise, will help police identify the pet.
A police spokesman said: “Sid’s owner is missing him a lot and is desperate to get him back.
“If you think you may have seen him for been offered him or sale please get in touch with police as soon as possible.”
Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to contact the police on the non-emergency number 101, or call Crimestoppers, the independent charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111.