Tortoise given new lease of life with toy wheels after losing legs in rat attack!

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VIDEO: A beloved pet tortoise whose legs were damaged beyond repair after being bitten to the bone by a rat has been given a new lease of life with his very own set of wheels.

Eddie, a 23-year-old Hermann’s tortoise, had to have his two front legs amputated after they were gnawed to the bone by a rat while he was in the garden at his family home in Bewsey, Warrington.

Sergio Silvetti, a referral clinician at Rutland House Veterinary Hospital in St Helens, had the idea to fix plastic toy wheels from a children’s Meccano set to Eddie’s shell to give him back his freedom after efforts to save his legs failed.

The substantial damage to Eddie’s legs meant the blood vessels couldn’t heal the tissue. Both legs were amputated while Eddie was under general anaesthetic during a delicate operation lasting about 20 minutes.
He was fitted with an oesophagostomy tube, or feeding tube, as a precaution to enable food, fluids and medications to be administered. However, he started eating independently the day after he was discharged from Rutland House.
Eddie has quickly adapted to his new mini rollers, which can be easily removed to be cleaned. He is back at home happily roaming about after his latest check-up revealed he is recovering well from the operation – much to the relief of his owners.

Eddie moved in with Ben and Emma McNicholas and their children Alfie, 11, and eight-year-old Lola, in Warrington, last year after his previous owner could no longer care for him.
He quickly became a much-loved member of the family, alongside their 16-year-old Horsefield tortoise, French Bulldog and Yorkshire Terrier.
Eddie escaped when the back door was open during the warm weather and is believed to have fallen asleep in the garden, making him vulnerable to predators.

Ben said: “My wife found him. She thought he was dead, to be honest. It was awful. I rang around the local vets but struggled to find someone. I then phoned Rutland House. They saw him straight away and said they would do everything they could.
“My kids were very worried when we first took him in. They didn’t think he would come back. Rutland House have been amazing. Sergio has done the operation and looked after him. He has been brilliant and kept us informed all the time. We are so thankful.
“Sergio knew exactly what to do. He asked what terrain Eddie would be on so he could select the best wheels for him; Eddie loves going into the garden and eating weeds.
“Eddie is such a character; he always chases the dogs in the front room. When I brought him home the kids were amazed.”

A tortoise’s metabolism and body temperature can drop if the external temperature falls below a certain level, which can happen in the UK, even during the summer. They are then unable to move away from possible danger.
Dr Silvetti, a vet in the exotics team at Rutland House Vets, has previously treated tortoises with similar injuries.
He said: “When tortoises are too cold or go to sleep, they simply close themselves up. The only soft bits available area on a tortoise are the front legs. Rats start nibbling from there.
“Eddie’s recovery was one of the quickest; he completely recovered from the anaesthesia after another 15 to 20 minutes and he was able to walk/ wheel about an hour from then.
“The choice of the size and type of wheels was the most difficult part; the wheels had to be big enough to allow Eddie to walk in the garden and on the right level to allow Eddie to keep his head straight and to not hurt himself dragging the shell.”
Rat bites are not uncommon and pet owners are advised to monitor tortoises when outside, or to place them somewhere safe where the temperature level can be maintained.

Sergio Silvetti, a referral clinician at Rutland House Veterinary Hospital, with Eddie and his owners, Emma McNicholas, and daughter Lola

Watch Eddie on the move with his new wheels


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