‘Pimped-up’ three-legged Norfolk tortoise gets new wheel
Is this the ultimate version of 'pimped-up' 21st-century reptilian transport?
Tuly the tortoise's savage encounter with a rat left her with three legs rather than four.
But lovers of the creatures have fitted her with a child's toy car wheel to take the place of her severed front right leg, and she's adapting well to her new prosthetic attachment.
Tuly's ordeal took place during her winter hibernation. The rat ate off the leg of the female Hermann's tortoise as she was sleeping.
Luckily, her owners believe that Tuly somehow managed to fight off the rodent despite her sleepy state.
It was during a routine hibernation check that the horrific injury was discovered.
Tuly was entrusted by her owners to Norfolk Tortoise Club.
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Expert vets were called in first to save her life and later to fit the wheel to get her fully mobile again.
'After an operation to stabilise her from the otherwise fatal injuries, it was noticed that she was wearing away the underside of her shell as she went about her daily explorations,' said Eleanor Tirtasana, the club's chief rehoming officer.
'With the clever use of a child's toy car wheel, she can now scoot around freely.
'Tuly now gives her mates a run for their money at feeding time.'
Tuly's operations were carried out at the veterinary practice of Uplands Way Vets, which has surgeries at Diss, Attleborough and Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
A spokesman said: 'We see many tortoise cases involving damage caused by rat, fox and dog attacks.
'Tortoises can respond well if treated quickly and appropriately; however, their recovery is often slow and may require the owner to follow a long-term treatment plan.'
Miss Tirtasana, who lives at Mulbarton and is looking after Tuly along with a small group of rescued tortoises, said: 'Unfortunately, we have seen this before, but as part of the club's commitment to tortoise welfare we ensure that any injured or homeless tortoises are given full rehabilitation and health checks prior to being rehomed.'
Tortoise welfare was always important, said Miss Tirtasana, but particularly so this year as many tortoises were struggling to recover from a tough hibernation because of the unduly harsh winter.
'Unfortunately, many tortoises froze during hibernation in sheds or suffered ill effects from excessively low temperatures,' she said.
'Tortoises need monitoring during hibernation, and we are always available to help people who contact us for advice.
'We know far more nowadays about these reptiles and how they function than we did when they were imported in the 1960s.
'All the tortoises that have survived living in the damp UK since then are now reaching old age and, like us, require a little more help in their later years. We can help you to prolong the life of your elderly tortoise and offer advice on how to grow a healthy hatchling so that they too can reach a magnificent age.'
There are thought to be more than 1,000 tortoises in Norfolk.