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Earliest evidence of a pet tortoise

Researchers have found the earliest evidence of a pet tortoise at a castle in Staffordshire.

There has been evidence of turtles and terrapins in domestic situations dating back to the 17th Century – but it was believed that these animals were used for food.

The discovery of a 130-year-old tortoise leg bone at Stafford Castle, amongst the remains of cats and dogs, suggests that this animal was a pet kept by the castle’s caretakers.

According to Dr Richard Thomas of Leicester University, who led the research, the keeping of pets had until then been considered “morally suspect”.

“If you go back to the medieval period you can see that attitudes to animals in general were very much constrained by religious doctrine,” he said.

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