A trip to the vets reveals half-a-century-old secret.

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A TORTOISE won at the fair 50 years ago had a surprise for its owners when it turned out ‘he’ was hiding an unusual secret.

Owner Anne Gray, from Sheepwash, had a hunch as to why ‘Toby’ had not been feeling well and was off his food.

After taking him to the Witten Lodge Veterinary Centre in Northam, her suspicions were confirmed; despite believing him to be male for half a century, Toby was in fact female.

Not only this, but the tortoise was carrying a clutch of nine eggs, and after being given an injection by practice partner Gareth Cross to hurry things along, Toby gave birth the next day.

Mrs Gray inherited Toby from her brother, who kept the creature as a pet for 45 years after winning it at the fair.

She said: “After 50 years, we couldn’t really rename her, but we are glad she is feeling better and is all back to normal now.

“I had a hunch what might have been wrong, as we never really knew for sure if Toby was a he or she.”

According to Mr Cross, tortoises occasionally lay eggs even when they haven’t mated.

Unfortunately there were no babies, but the owners kindly agreed to let the vets keep the eggs and x rays for educational visits to local primary schools.

Mr Cross said: “Tortoises are fascinating creatures.

“This was a rewarding case as it used the most up-to-date rapid imaging technology to confirm a good old-fashioned clinical hunch and, of course, had a good outcome.”

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