Tortoise With A Taste For Pyromania

By Vanessa Papas: A tortoise recently set his family’s home alight. Fortunately, despite being caught up in the fire, the disgruntled reptile named Victor managed to escape unscathed after being rescued by firemen.

The 45-year-old tortie – a beloved pet who lives with his owner in Great Dunmow in London – knocked over a heat lamp in his tank and set his bedding of hay on fire.  The room quickly became engulfed in flames, which spread to the rest of the house and set off the smoke alarm.


Panicked neighbours frantically called the fire department, who were there within minutes. “When we arrived the house was thick with black smoke. Searching for the cause of the fire, we found and rescued the culprit, who was still in the tortoise enclosure. This incident shows just how important it is to have smoke alarms on every level of your home,” says fire station manager, Gary Wain.  “Even if you’re not home they will alert anyone close by to the first sign of fire.”

The fire department shared an image on Facebook of the tortoise, who appeared to be giving someone serious stink-eye despite his lucky escape. Responding to the Facebook post, one person asked if the neighbour who raised the alarm was another tortoise. “Don’t be silly Sandra – it would take too long for a tortoise to get to the phone,” the Department wrote back. The tortoise was unavailable for comment.

See also: Hatchlings Born To 78-Year-Old Tortoise

The incident serves as an important reminder for reptile owners to keep a close eye on heat lamps and pads and to ensure smoke detectors have functioning batteries.  When you’re running high-wattage heat bulbs, check the label on your heat lamp to make sure it’s rated for that kind of wattage. Otherwise you can overload the socket and sparks start flying. Use heat pads with adjustable thermostats only. This is generally good practice for avoiding reptile burns, but doubly so when it comes to fire safety. And like heat lamps, replace immediately if it gets damaged.