Perhaps the grass looked greener on the other side of the M25, or maybe he just needed the exercise.
For whatever reason, this tortoise decided to take a stroll through the rush-hour traffic.
He was spotted plodding along the fast lane, miraculously avoiding the wheels as cars roared over him at 70mph and more.
And by the time he was rescued unharmed, he had made it almost all the way across five lanes from the central reservation to the verge.
Coming through! Freeway the tortoise was found crossing one of the busiest motorway junctions in Britain
His saviour, John Formby, 43, was returning to his home in Worthing, West Sussex, when he noticed something in the road just after 5pm on Wednesday.
‘I thought it was a bit of debris,’ he said. ‘I went to swerve but noticed it was moving – then saw it had a head.
‘I couldn’t believe it was a tortoise crossing the motorway through the traffic.
‘I pulled over and ran 400 yards back up the road to get it. I was holding my breath as it came from the central reservation towards the hard shoulder.
The journey Freeway is believed to have taken at the junction of the M23 and the M25
‘Three vehicles went right over the top of it but somehow missed it. It didn’t even pop back into its shell, just kept on walking as if it knew it had to get to the other side.’
Mr Formby, a building site engineer, said the tortoise was attempting to cross the M25 near junction seven, the busy junction with the M23, near Gatwick Airport.
He stopped off to buy his passenger a slap-up dinner of lettuce and tomato before taking him to a vet near his home.
The vet found the tortoise, which is thought to be about ten years old, had been microchipped in the U.S.
Dubbed 'Freeway' by his rescuers, his owners have yet to step forward to claim him
This suggests that, unless he stowed away on a jet to Gatwick, he belongs to an American family who have relocated to Britain and he escaped from their garden.
He has been taken to an animal sanctuary, where managers gave him the name Freeway – the American word for a motorway.
They are seeking to reunite him with his owner and have contacted the microchip company in the U.S.
Billy Elliot, of the Worthing and District Animal Sanctuary, said: ‘We think he’s American, which would explain why he was going the wrong way down the motorway.
'It’s amazing he’s still alive after walking across the M25 at rush hour. It was the busiest time of the day on one of the busiest roads in the country.
‘I can’t think of a worse place for him to be, so it’s a miracle he survived. They say cats have nine lives but Freeway must have used up all of his in one expedition.
'It would be the icing on the cake if we could now find his owner. He’s in very good condition so we don’t think he’s been away from home for very long.
‘I think he’s a much-loved pet who belongs to a family who have moved over here, but have forgotten to update his microchip.’
If the owner cannot be traced, there will be no shortage of volunteers to give Freeway a home – with Mr Formby first in the queue.
Freeway fact file
- Freeway is a Hermann’s Tortoise, a Mediterranean species endangered in the wild.
- They typically live to be 50 or 60, although they can survive much longer.
- Tortoises move at an average speed of 0.17mph, meaning it would have taken Freeway almost three days to walk from Gatwick Airport to the M25 where he was spotted.
- It is now illegal to import tortoises to Britain. Only those bred here can be sold as pets.
- A baby Hermann’s would cost £120 or more, with adults fetching many hundreds of pounds.
- Tortoises roamed the world before the dinosaurs, and fossils found in Spain suggest that Hermann’s were a common meal for cavemen.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1214423/Tortoise-wanders-lanes-motorway-traffic-survives.html#ixzz0Rd1kFvO7