Motorway rescue for tortoise in the fast lane

A tortoise with a taste for life in the fast lane was rescued from a busy motorway after dodging up to six lanes of traffic against the odds.

The tortoise was plucked from the M23 slip road at junction seven of the M25 by site engineer John Formby of Worthing, West Sussex.

After taking it to the vet, Mr Formby was surprised to discover the animal was micro-chipped in America and thousands of miles from his original home.

He said: "As I got to the top of the slip road I noticed something in the road. At first I thought it was debris, but as I was getting nearer I saw a head and realised it was in fact a tortoise. My initial reaction was 'What the hell is a tortoise doing on a motorway?'

"I thought it might cause an accident with people trying to avoid it so I pulled over, put my hazard lights on and ran 400 yards down the hard shoulder.

"Some other cars were coming up and a couple went round the tortoise. Two cars and a van drove straight over it, straddling it, but it didn't go back into its shell.

"By the time I'd run back, it had got into the slow lane. I ran out picked it up and put it into the foot well of my car."

Mr Formby, 43, stopped off at a supermarket to buy it some tomatoes and lettuce before dropping it into Grove Lodge Veterinary Hospital in Worthing on Wednesday afternoon.

He said: "It was shocking to find it on a motorway, I was really surprised. When I was a child I found a tortoise in a cemetery and it brought back those memories."

Billy Elliott, of Worthing and District Animal Rescue Service said the tortoise had been nicknamed Freeway, the American word for motorway.

He said: "We were delighted when we found he was micro-chipped so we could notify the owners he was safe. When we rang the company they told us it was a foreign microchip, which most likely came from America.

"He's very friendly and in good condition. He must be someone's pet and the family have relocated from abroad and brought him with them. He's very lucky to have survived. It would be the icing on the cake if we could reunite him with his owners."

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