By Harriet Whitehead
A tortoise named Tommy ‘Shellby’ after the infamous Peaky Blinders character chases and bites everyone in his home but is a big softie when it comes to one animal – a big ginger cat.
Hermann’s tortoise Tommy Shellby was adopted by Michelle Davies after a friend begged her to take him because he was attacking other tortoises.
And the raging reptile takes great pleasure in chasing Michelle, 42, and her two daughters Chloe, 14, and Leah, 16, around the kitchen – as well as terrorising Michelle’s bulldog cross dog Betty.
But when it comes to Michelle’s Maine coon cat Simba, Tommy Shellby’s hard exterior cracks as the two enjoy playing together, cuddling up and touching noses.
Waitress Michelle from Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire, said: “My friend has a rescue home for tortoises and took him in but he was too vicious.
“He was attacking the other tortoises so she phoned and asked if I would take him.
“She told me he was fine with humans it was just other tortoises he had a problem with, she said I’d love him.
“Chloe came up with the name Tommy Shellby, like from Peaky Blinders.
“He loves going for your toes. If you’re lying on the floor he’ll be hiding behind something and just come flying out. He’s always in attack mode.
“He tries to nip your toes but I’ve not given him the chance to do it.
“He’s such a character and so funny. He’s always trying to climb over things, I laugh at him all the time.
“He’s got a broken chimney pot in his indoor home and he drags himself up it and tumbles off.
“I never thought you would get so much out of a tortoise. I thought he would be really docile and would be frightened of other animals but it’s the other way round.
“You think he would be scared of bigger animals but he’s not, he’s a demon.
“The dog is terrified of him. The first time they met I thought she might try and pick him up or would want to play with him but the tortoise goes running after her and the dog just shoots away.
“Tommy Shellby has no fear.
“He’s so fast as well, He runs across the lino, it’s like he’s got propellers.
“I was filming Simba, Betty and Tommy Shelby in the kitchen and we were going round in a circle and every time I stopped he would go for my toes.
“It was like a Benny Hill sketch.”
But mum-of-two Michelle, who also has another cat Fudge and two guinea pigs, said when it comes to Simba they’re the best of friends.
Michelle said: “When he’s tired he loves cuddling up with Simba.
“From the first day they were inseparable, they bonded straight away.
“I thought Tommy Shellby would be a bit scared of him but Simba is very gentle. He doesn’t go outside and hunt.
“I thought Simba might have clawed him but they just started touching noses.
“There was one occasion when the tortoise got stuck behind the fridge.
“He’d walked behind it and couldn’t turn himself round to come back and the cat was stood next to the fridge meowing letting me know he was stuck. Simba really looks after him.
“They just love chasing and playing. Tommy Shellby will chase Simba round and nip at his tail but Simba doesn’t mind that.
“The other cat Fudge keeps out of the way and the dog is just perplexed.
“Simba actually hisses at the dog to keep him away and protect the tortoise. He’s like ‘get away from my tortoise, I’m not sharing’.
“He sits and watches him in a protective way.
“It’s definitely an unlikely friendship, we call them the odd couple.”
Michelle describes Tommy Shellby as an ‘opportunist’.
Michelle said: “He’s vicious when he’s on the floor but when you pick him up he’s fine.
“He’s just an opportunist and sees the chance to attach himself to something he will do, he’s a little tinker.
“His previous owner said she’d never seen anything like it – it was ridiculous the way he went for other tortoises.
“He’s come on leaps and bounds now though. He’s got a big home in the living room and in the garden for when it’s sunny. He’s spoiled rotten.
“He’s only six years old so we’ve got a few more years of this.”