It’s no secret that tortoises are among the most resilient animals on Earth, but for one particularly tenacious pet tortoise, that hardy sense of survival allowed it to endure for decades in the most unnatural of places, according to reports.

Back in 1982, the Almeida Family was saddened to learn that their beloved pet, Manuela, a young red-footed tortoise, had gone missing. Their house was under renovation at the time, so the family just assumed it had slipped out through a gate left open by the construction crew and disappeared. Yet they couldn’t have been more wrong.

The true fate of their lost pet remained a mystery for the next 30 years, that is, until they were met with an unexpected surprise.

After their father passed away, the Almeida children returned to help clean out his cluttered storage room upstairs. The room was jam-packed with things which they decided to throw away. But while the son was making a trip to the dumpster with a box of broken records, a neighbour asked him if he was intending to throw out the tortoise that was holed up inside.

That’s when the Almeidas learned that, amazingly, the turtle had managed to somehow survive for three decades.

The family suspects she had been able to sustain herself grubbing on termites which, thanks to all that unwanted furniture, were likely in abundance.

Please note, the photos show a red-footed tortoise, though not the actual one from the story, as that image was not available to us.