A randy tortoise which developed arthritis after bonking too much has been fitted with a pair of wheels to help him get around.
Bert, a 22-year-old African spurred tortoise, now travels around with the help of heavy duty wheels strapped to his shell whenever his back left leg swells up.
His keepers believe he is the largest tortoise in the world to have wheels fitted.
Bert lives at the Secret Animal Garden at the Dinosaur Adventure Park in Norfolk.
His keepers took the drastic move after they noticed severe swelling in his rear legs restricted his movement when he returned from a breeding programme in 2011.
During his two month visit Bert, described as a “prolific breeder” by his keeper, had his way with up to five females producing an unknown number of offspring.
But it appears the sweet-loving took its toll on the 100kg tortoise and vets later discovered that he had developed early onset arthritis on his return.
After struggling to get around, especially in the winter when his legs seize up, his keepers decided to use the wheels and painkillers to ease his pain.
Acting manager at the park animal garden Martin Hocking said: “He is a lover not a fighter, that is certainly true.
“I wasn’t there for the whole time (he was away on the breeding programme) but I imagine he was quite interested in the female tortoises.
“African spurred tortoises are prolific breeders who can produce up to 60 to 70 offspring a year and he is no exception.”
Bert leg flared up when he returned from the breeding programme in 2011 and again at the end of last year.
He has spent the past eight weeks on his wheels, park operations manager Adam Goymour revealed.
He said: “The wheels help Bert’s mobility and will hopefully help him heal by aiding circulation.
“The public are always interested by Bert and wonder why he has wheels, there is a sign up on the window of his enclosure that tells all the info about his previous injury and why he is on the wheels.
“Kids love it and think he is a bionic tortoise and that he needs those wheels to help him with his super tortoise speed.”
Bert has lived at the dinosaur park since 2007 on loan from the Norfolk tortoise club, and was officially donated in 2013.
African Spurred tortoises are also known as Sulcata tortoises and live up to around 60. They do not hibernate.
He is due to come off his wheels in the next month and once they are off he probably won’t need them till next winter, Adam revealed.
Peter Wedderburn, a vet based in Dublin, Ireland, who works with a variety of animals including tortoises, said: “I wouldn’t expect arthritis to develop until they are 30 at least.
“It is definitely down to over use and over stress on the back legs.
“Arthritis in tortoises is just like in humans. It is caused by overuse of the joints and that can happen at any point in life.
“I recently had quite a severe case of arthritis in a 30-year-old tortoise and I would say that was about normal.”
For more information about the park visit www.dinosauradventure.co.uk
Leave a Reply