'Shell shock' as Cambridge tortoise dug out of drainpipe

Image source, RSPCA
Image caption,
It was quite a physical effort to rescue Herman the tortoise from the drainpipe

A tortoise had to be dug out of a deep drainpipe 28 days after disappearing, when his scratching was heard by his shell-shocked owners.

Herman had managed to get deep inside a pipe which was buried several feet below his Cambridge garden.

After digging a trench through soil and hardcore for six hours, his owners called in the RSPCA to help with the excavation.

Owner Matt Gilbert said it was an "absolute mystery" how he got there.

Mr Gilbert said although there was soakaway hole in the garden, it seemed too small for Herman to have got into. So he is still not sure how he ended up so deep inside the pipe.

Image source, RSPCA
Image caption,
Sometimes you just have to keep on digging
Image source, RSPCA
Image caption,
Finally Herman was freed

He disappeared from the garden on 6 July but last week, as temperatures topped 30C in the city, his scratching was heard beneath the ground.

"It was certainly hard work trying to dig to get to Herman," Mr Gilbert said.

"My heart sank when I had already dug up three metres of pipe and he still wasn't in there, but we just kept hearing him, so I knew I just had to keep digging.

"It's still an absolute mystery as to what on earth happened."

Image source, RSPCA
Image caption,
His owners have made sure Herman is now secure in his enclosure

RSPCA inspector Richard Lythgoe, who arrived with a trusty shovel, confirmed Herman was unhurt after his month-long drainpipe ordeal

"I can safely say this is the first time I have been called to rescue a tortoise from a drainpipe."

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