Pet lover Christina Slemon has been left heartbroken after losing her tortoise Nishka in a case of mistaken identity.
Christina, aged 56, and husband Keith left the family pet in the care of a team of reptile experts when they went on holiday.
But when they returned after a few days away to pick her up they discovered there had been a mix-up at the pet shop.
Another tortoise owner had already taken five-year-old Nishka by mistake and left his own tortoise behind.
Now nursery nurse Christina is pining for her Hermans breed tortoise and has been around the area trying to find Nishka.
Messages have been put up in local shops appealing for the other owner to contact her, and the missing reptile has been reported in the local school’s newsletter.
And Christina reckons pampered pet Nishka will be missing all her home comforts, including her daily bubble bath and specially homegrown dandelion leaves.
Christina, from Dunsville, said: “I know it’s difficult to understand but she means as much to me as a dog or cat would. I talk to her all the time and she lives a life of luxury. I’m desperate to get her back as soon as I can. I’ve put messages up in local shops explaining what’s happened and I’m hoping the word will get through to the other tortoise owner.
“We’ve had her for four years and we are really attached to her. I just want her back.
“The only details recorded about the other tortoise at the shop is the name Jeff – but no one is sure if that is the name of the tortoise or its owner!”
The man who picked up Nishka in error had been to Egypt for two weeks and drives a silver four-by-four.
The couple bought Nishka from Green Reptiles in Hatfield, where she was left when they went on holiday.
Owner Andy Jones said: “Unfortunately someone released the wrong tortoise, it was a mistake.
“This has never happened before and the assistant who dealt with it wasn’t one of our experienced shop workers.
“We have apologised to Christina and we are hoping to sort out this problem as quickly as possible.”