UPDATE: Fears over reports of a ‘large tortoise’ blocking the A24

A tortoise was reported to be causing chaos on the A24 yesterday morning SUS-170426-133122001
A tortoise was reported to be causing chaos on the A24 yesterday morning SUS-170426-133122001

Anxious pet owners have come forward following reports of a ‘large tortoise’ causing traffic chaos on the A24 at Washington roundabout yesterday morning.

AA Travel said traffic was ‘at a crawl’ after it was reported that the reptile was obstructing both the A24 and the A283 coming off the roundabout.

Sussex Police said they received a call regarding the incident at 7.45 am but could find no trace of the tortoise when they inspected the area half an hour later.

Meanwhile, scores of people took to social media about the incident querying the size of the ‘large tortoise’ and others came forward worried that the reptile could be their lost pet.

A man living near Washington roundabout said his tortoise had gone missing last year and feared it could be him. And another Washington couple - owners of eight tortoises - feared the straying reptile could be one of theirs.

A spokesman for AA Travel said: “Traffic was at a crawl on the A24 in Worthing yesterday morning. We heard reports of a large tortoise blocking the road.

“There was a slowdown of traffic in the area at the time, although this is consistent with the time of week and the cause is not conclusive.

“Drivers could have been shelling out for repairs had a large tortoise been slowly crossing.

“The rumour has ‘tortoise’ all a valuable lesson on checking traffic for your journey before you travel and listening for updates en route.”

Leading animal charity, the Southwater-based RSPCA, said they had no direct reports of a tortoise on the A24.

A spokesman added: “People often think that tortoises are slow moving animals - but you’d be surprised how far they can travel in a short amount of time.

“It’s important that any tortoise enclosures are secure, as they can and do escape, and sadly we take in a lot of stray tortoises that are likely to be escaped pets. If anyone spots this tortoise they can contact our hotline on 0300 123 4999.”