'Angry Looking' 45-Year-Old Tortoise Sets House on Fire, Is Mercifully Rescued


During the holiday season, many of us are challenged to forgive the chaotic people in our lives. Thankfully, throughout this experience, we're strengthened by the knowledge that we'll soon return to our homes, routines, and loving pets. But one UK homeowner could not return to such comfort on Christmas Day. In fact, their pet tortoise turned out to be the loved one most in need of forgiveness, because it set fire to the house while nobody was home.

The ruthless tortoise resided in Great Dunmow, Essex, according to a report by the BBC. On Christmas Day, at around 4:30pm, neighbors heard alarms coming from the home, and sound found it brimming with smoke. Firefighters were called immediately, and the fire was extinguished within 25 minutes. Then the details began to emerge.

According to the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, the tortoise knocked over a heat lamp and "set his bedding alight," triggering the alarms and subsequent flooding of on-call firefighter crew members. No report on whether this movement was an act of passion, or if a tortoise is just, like, dumb. 

"This 45 year old tortoise might look angry," it says on the rescue service's Facebook page. "But it's his lucky day." The event concluded happily, and Watch Manager Gary Wain told BBC that the tortoise "will now hopefully continue to live a long and happy life."

But will he? While the event concluded happily, we are haunted by the image of a land-dweller's indignant scowl, and a gaze which shifts suspiciously between squinted lids. Can a reptile's core rot like those of human snakes? What of the tortoise's soul, and does it deserve his owner's festive forgiveness? Look into his eyes and decide for yourself. 

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Ruby Anderson is a News Writer for Thrillist.