“It was like fitting her with a turbo charger – she’s going double the speed she used to,” said owner Jude Ryder, according to Wales Online. “She uses her back legs to push herself along. She seems quite happy, but it’s difficult to tell with a tortoise.”
The venerable pet – named Mrs T – was attacked when a rat broke into the shed where she was hibernating at her home in Pembroke, West Wales. A local vet battled to save the shell-shocked reptile, whose legs had been gnawed down to the elbow joint, but feared she would not survive without being able to get around.
Mrs Ryder ran up a £1000 vet bill before turning to her mechanical engineer son, Dale, 37, for help. He came up with the idea of using wheels from a model aircraft, and designed a special axle which he attached to Mrs T’s shell using strong resin.
“She took to them straight away but she has had to learn how to turn and stop,” said Mrs Ryder. “She can get a good speed up, much faster than before. Mrs T is still quite young for a tortoise. She could go on for another 50 years – all she needs is a new set of tyres now and again.”
Mrs T was already in her 60s when she was bought as a pet for Dale when he was eight.
“We were afraid she may have to be put down, but her new set of wheels have saved her life,” said Mrs Ryder. “She has the run of the garden again and we can always find her because she leaves very strange tracks wherever she goes.”
Rodent attacks on tortoises are, sadly, not uncommon. Britain’s oldest tortoise, Thomas, died two years ago at the age of 130 after the wound from a rat bite on his leg became badly infected. Thomas, who lived on Guernsey, was born in 1882, and was pulled out of the rubble of a bomb-hit house in Essex in 1945.
Meanwhile you can see Mrs T enjoying her new wheels here: