Three-year -old Tserin Dopchut survived alone for 72 hours in a forest in the remote Russian region of Siberia, in an area renowned for being inhabited by wolves and bears.
The boy only had a small bar of chocolate in his pocket when he wandered into the woodland.
According to The Siberian Times, the child slept on a dry makeshift bed under a larch tree.
A huge land and air search was launched to find Tserin, who may have been following a puppy when he vanished.
The toddler had been under the care of his great grandmother, local media reported, but he ventured off near the village of Khut, located amid dense forestry in the Tuva Republic when her back was turned.
For 72 hours the boy braved plummeting temperatures, the threat of wild animals and the danger of falling into a fast-flowing river before he was eventually rescued by his uncle.
“The situation was very dangerous. The River Mynas is fast and cold. If a small child fell in, it would be certain death,” Ayas Saryglar, head of Tyva’s Civil Defense and Emergencies agency, told the Siberian Times.
“There are wolves, and bears in the forest. The bears are now fattening for the winter. They can attack anything that moves.
“In addition, it is warm during the day, but at night there are even frosts. If we consider that the kid disappeared during the day, he was not properly dressed – only a shirt and shoes, no coat.”
A day and night search operation to find the toddler involved villagers, local policemen and even a helicopter scouring a vast area of about 120 square km.
Another official told local media that the boy was saved after recognizing his uncle’s voice calling his name. After being hugged, Tserin’s first question was whether his toy car was okay.
Rescuers were quick to praise the boy’s initiative – he found a dry place under a larch tree and slept between its roots.
“The whole [of his] village is throwing a party to celebrate his survival,” regional leader Sholban Kara-Ool was quoted as saying.
Tserin Dopchut has now been nicknamed Mowgli, The Siberian Times reported. Mowgli is the fictional orphan in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book novels.
Doctors say that Tserin Dopchut suffered no serious injuries from his ordeal.