Rats, proving their position as Natureā€™s Assholes, gnawed off the front legs of a 90-year-old tortoise that was hibernating. What kind of jerk gnaws off your legs when youā€™re freaking hibernating? To help the tortoise, a pair of wheels were fitted. Thatā€™s pretty good. But what more can we do?

The wheels were fitted via a sort of slide-in axle and strap unit thatā€™s placed on the tortoise, known as Mrs. T, which then propels itself with its back legs. Turning seems to be accomplished by pushing one leg at a time, sending the wheeled tortoise in the direction opposite the selected leg, sort of like a skid-steer tank or something.

Thatā€™s pretty good, and itā€™s giving this nearly century-old lady a whole new mode of locomotion. But why stop there? The turtle is faster than before, and most likely has gotten a taste for speed. So, with a few simple modifications, we can really let this tortoise book. Hereā€™s what Iā€™m thinking:


See, we use wheels with small hub-mounted electric motors, each independently controllable. We mount a small battery pack on the shell, housing one battery per motor. At the turtleā€™s feet, we have small pedal-like actuators/switches for the feet to push, each of which operates that sideā€™s wheel motor.

That way, the turtle is already basically familiar with how to steer ā€” go left, push with right foot, go right, push with left, go forward, use both. Iā€™m sure the tortoise will pick it up in no time.

Even with small motors, the tortoise should be able to work up some decent speed ā€” not much, but quick enough for Mrs. T. Braking would be accomplished by just letting off the pedals and letting the motorā€™s resistance slow things down. Plus, she can always pull her head in her shell if sheā€™s going to whack into a wall or something, right? Besides, sheā€™ll have an adorable tiny helmet.


Seems fun, right? So, if Mrs. Tā€™s owner, Jude Ryder, wishes to pursue this exciting development for her tortoise, she knows where to find us.