A pair of “naughty” tortoises are being blamed for starting a fire that burned down a conservatory in the United Kingdom. Sadly, the fire also cost the reportedly amorous reptiles their lives. The conservatory operators say Henry the tortoise had just awoken from his hibernation and was focused on just one thing – his mate Alice.
Henry had been pursuing Alice all over their habitat, and conservatory operators believe that, during his romantic fervor, the naught tortoise knocked over a heater and set the wood shavings in the next cage on fire. Alf and Gayner Clayton of Thornby, Stockton-on-Tees barely escaped the flames with their lives. The couple ran out of the home, leaving the tortoises behind, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
A neighbor had spotted flames coming out of the garage and alerted the Clayton’s about the fire. Alf and Gayner reportedly tried to reach their beloved reptiles but ultimately had to leave them behind in the burning building.
The fire is believed to have been started by the naughty tortoises also damaged the family’s car and garage. The couple feels that Henry and Alice died of smoke inhalation after the fire in the tortoise habitat started.
Alf Clayton had this to say about the tortoise habitat fire during an interview with the Evening Gazette:
“Henry had woken up and was trying to mate with his partner. He always was a bit of a one and had chased her around and must have knocked the heater over. She [his wife] is devastated. We tried our best to save them but the blaze was too fierce. It could have been much worse.”
The Clayton’s had a playroom adjoining the private conservatory. Their 15 grandchildren often visit and play with their toys and peek at the tortoises. Insurance estimates to repair the home and conservatory amounts to “many thousands” of dollars, according to Alf Clayton.
The tortoises were reportedly Gayner Clayton’s “pride and joy.” The retired couple spent a lot of time caring for the pair of reptiles and preparing their habitat inside the conservatory.
The fire department arrived on the scene quickly, but the crew was not able to save the naughty tortoises. The firefighters told the couple that it is probable the little naughty tortoises died from smoke inhalation rather quickly and not suffered from through the flames, according to the Daily Mail. Henry’s lustful advances toward Alice completely destroyed the rather expensive conservatory.