A Lytham mum has told of her heartbreak at the loss of a tortoise she has cherished for more than 40 years.
Diane Donohoe was shocked to discover her tortoise was missing from its hibernation box on Sunday after she checked to see if the animal was ready to wake.
The pet owner says she believes the tortoise, called Herbena, was stolen from the box that had been kept in the garage, by thieves who were intent on taking the animal.
And the 58-year-old is now asking for the those responsible to return her pet, who she fears may die if not properly cared for.
Tortoise owner Diane made a desperate plea for information on Facebook in a post which was shared over 25,000 times in one day.
She told the Gazette: "I was so shocked and panicked when I first found her missing. I didn't know what to do - it has just been awful.
"I've had her since I was 18-years-old. I bought her from a pet shop because I felt a bit sorry for her - she had a limp, she was the last tortoise there.
"I took her home in the saddle bag of my bike - she's been with me nearly all my life.
"Herbena's a real character - she likes to be tickled on her chin and sticks her head right out of her shell. She's not frightened of anything.
"She's very frail when she first comes out of hibernation and in her sixties. My worry is that tortoises aren’t as easy to look after as people think and if she’s not in the right hands will die.
"Herbena did escape a few years ago and thankfully she was found, but I'm certain that this time she was taken.
"I checked the box and the stuffing was too tightly packed, and none of it was out of the box. More paper has been stuffed in there to make it look like she was still in there.
"It’s been planned. I checked on her last month and felt her so I knew she was in there then. Hardly anyone knew she was in there and nothing else was taken from the garage - it's very hurtful."
A £200 reward has been offered for the safe return of the Herbena.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the owner via the Gazette or missing pet charity Harvey's Army on 07833 727 975.