A 90-year-old tortoise, named Mrs. T, was hibernating one day in her Pembroke, West Wales home. However, Mrs. T was viciously attacked by rats while she was sleeping in her shell. While her head was protected, the rats succeeded in gnawing off both of the tortoises' front legs.
Upon discovering the attack, owner Jude Ryder rushed the distressed and immobilized tortoise to the local animal hospital. Unfortunately, nothing could be done to restore her mobility. At least, that is what veterinarians told her.
After the wounds were treated and Mrs. T had some time to rest, Jude Ryder turned the tortoise over to the care of her son Dale, a mechanical engineer, for help. He removed the wheels from a model airplane and attached the wheels to Mrs. T's shell using resin.
The wheels were a resounding success and had some unexpected benefits. With two big rollers for front legs, Mrs. T can now travel at twice the speed of the usual tortoise, making her a regular speed demon.
Mrs Ryder commented on Mrs T's fancy new wheels, "She took to them straight away, but she has had to learn how to turn and stop. 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 every now and again."
Mrs T. was bought when she was in her 60s as a pet for Dale when he was eight years old. Normally it has the run of Mrs Ryder's garden in West Wales, but is tucked away in the garden shed during the winter to hibernate. What is normally an uneventful affair turned tragic after a rat snuck into the shed and gnawed her front legs off at the elbow joint.
Unfortunately, rats attacking tortoises is not uncommon. In 2013, Britain's oldest tortoise died after being attacked by rats in his Guernsey home at the age of 130.