Roving reporter Nicola interviewed Toe-Grabbing Sammy the Tortoise from his hibernation box in London, England.

I woke up with a four-legged creature barking at me. What a noise to wake up to. Now I’m feeling grumpy and irritated. I just want to eat, warm up, and be out in the sunshine. I'm just longing for my favourite dandelion treat.

For six months I've been holed up in a box, in a small dark room, in a really cool place, hibernating. The whole process of the cold has slowed my system down.

As I started to move again, Emma was looking at me going, “Oh, hi, Sammy. You're still alive.” And I thought, “What are you talking about? Yeah, of course I am.”

You’ve never seen a tortoise run this fast

In the house I often have this urge to sprint across the kitchen floor – clickity, click - and wham, I take a chunk of any toes that are available. I don't know why, I just can't help myself.

I’m an exceptionally fast runner. When I start to run it builds my energy. You could say I’m a sprinter with a mission. When I see something I want, or have some goals, I literally race from one end of the garden to the other.

I like it best when Emma’s hanging out the washing. That's when I creep up on her quickly through the grass and have a big bite of her toe.

I’m most energetic and full of beans when the sun is out and it's hot. On one occasion in the garden, I sprinted towards some desirable toes and grabbed on. The boy didn’t see me coming. In shock he shot his foot up in the air. There I was dangling in mid-air off his toes. Immediately, he flung his leg up. I flew and tumbled across the garden landing in the grass on my back. Toe-grabbing can be a dangerous business.

Sammy the Tortoise speaks


I also go for people’s shoes. I just can't help myself. I mean there have been moments, I admit, when I try to eat Emma’s shoes or her sports bags. I love the sports bag. It has a special smell, which baits me. But above all, I am obsessed with leather shoes and human feet that have recently been in them.

Sammy was interpreted by

Emma Whawell and her daughter Yasmin Clifford who know when Sammy is back in the land of the living because of the degree and number of their sore toes – which is a testament to their love of Sammy.

Emma and Yasmin say to Sammy

We never knew tortoises could run that fast. When motivated they definitely don’t drag their feet.

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Emma and Yasmin were invited by Nicola Gale after Sammy’s nemesis, the 4-legged dog Rufus, introduced them in a park.

Cover photo edited. Original by Thomas Quine.