Daysha Talbert's son pets Flash the tortoise in the family's backyard. The "unexpectedly fast" tortoise escaped on Aug. 26. [Photo courtesy of Daysha Talbert]

A desert tortoise escaped from a backyard in Moab on Sunday, Aug. 26, and has been reunited with its family and christened with a new name — Flash.

Hannah Russell, an archaeologist, saw the tortoise walking down the street around 10:30 a.m. as she was cycling.

“I stopped because there was a car coming and I wanted to make sure it didn’t get hit,” Russell said.

Russell knocked on nearby doors to ask if the tortoise belonged to anyone in the neighborhood, but no one answered. She went home and retrieved a bin to place the tortoise in until she could find its owner, but when she returned, the tortoise had already left the area.

“In that period of time, it had walked around the corner to the next street,” Russell said. “It was a lot faster than I thought it was going to be.”

She caught up with the tortoise and placed it in the bin as she went to talk to a nearby person who keeps a pet tortoise.

“Their tortoise was accounted for, and then I drove through my neighborhood with my air conditioning on for the comfort of the tortoise to see if anyone was missing a tortoise, including a neighbor who walks their tortoise on a leash, but it was not theirs, either,” she said.

She made flyers and hung them up in the surrounding neighborhood, and her husband called the Grand County Sheriff’s Office to report the lost tortoise to an animal control officer.

Daysha Talbert, the tortoise’s owner, said the tortoise had escaped, walked down a hill and was lost for about three hours that morning while the family was attending church service. When she saw Russell’s flyers in the neighborhood, she went to pickup the tortoise.

“We’ve only had him for a week, so this has been quite an adventure,” Talbert said. “He’s an older tortoise, really relaxed, but he acts wild. He’s injured, so he can’t be released into the wild.”

Talbert’s family had named the tortoise Squishy, but changed it to Flash after its escape.

“He’s unexpectedly fast,” Talbert said. “He zooms around … he’s on a mission to go explore the world. I think the name Flash has stuck.”

“I always stop for animals that are obviously not where they are supposed to be,” Russell said. “I’m just glad he got home.”

Talbert said her family has now “tortoise-proofed” the backyard.

‘Unexpectedly fast’ tortoise found by cyclist