For Britain’s oldest tortoise, who survived two world wars, including a Nazi bomb during the London blitz, it was a rather tame end as it eventually succumbed to a rat bite. Thomas, who became a national institution for its incredible longevity, died at 130 after being attacked by a rodent in the garden of its owner’s home.

“Thomas was like a member of the family. He was bitten on the leg by a rogue rat in the garden and the wound became so inflamed that it started pushing into his shell. He wasn’t eating or appearing to get any better, so a week later, as a family, we made the decision to put him to sleep,” said the owner.

Fight till end

Born in 1892, it fought till the end spending five days on a course of strong antibiotics fed through a tube until his owners decided that it had suffered enough and had it put down.

The owner, Le Gallez, said she inherited Thomas 35 years ago from her late cousin Grace Hilditch who got it as a birthday present from her father in 1922.

She revealed that Thomas was actually a female but by the time his “dark secret” was discovered the name had stuck. “People suggested I rename him Thomasina, but I thought it would be cruel,” she said.

More In: International | News