Randy reptiles set fire to conservatory in the throes of passion

·Contributing Writer
This is a specimen of the new species, Morafka's Desert Tortoise (Gopherus morafkai), from Tiburon Island, Sonora, Mexico.

There are a number of animals that we tend to associate with sex. Tigers (as in, “Slow down, you tiger!”) tends to be a top contender, although sometimes it gets so crazy that we simply resort to generalizations. Anyone who’s ever yelled, “You sexy beast” amidst the throes of passion is complicit in this lack of specificity.

But as these things tend to work, it’s the species you’d least expect that has made headlines for literally burning down the house mid-coitus.

A pair of randy reptiles is believed to be responsible for a fire that destroyed an English couple’s conservatory and garage, the Evening Gazette reports.

The only other time this has happened was at the end of Like Water For Chocolate and anyone who’s seen the 1992 Mexican romance flick knows how well that ended for everyone.

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Tortoises Henry and Alice had reportedly just woken up from their long winter hibernation and immediately got down to business – business, in this case, being an activity that is usually represented on film over a bow-chicka-wow-wow soundtrack.

According to their human, Thornaby-on-Tees resident Alf Clayton, Henry was “trying to mate with his partner” Alice by chasing her around the room. In the process, a fire brigade spokesman believes the amorous animal accidentally knocked over his own incubator lamp that then proceeded to “set fire” to the woodchips around it.

"He always was a bit of a one and had chased her around and must have knocked the heater over," Clayton said.

From that point on it didn’t take long before the flames engulfed the entire garage where they lived.

Thankfully, firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze before it reached the Clayton house.

Despite the otherwise humorous context, the story has an awful climax: both love-turtles died in the fire before they could be rescued.

"We tried our best to save them… but the blaze was too fierce," " Clayton told the Gazette, adding that his wife, for whom the tortoises were a "pride and joy," was “devastated” by the loss.

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There was only a slight consolation in that "firefighters who attended said they would have perished from smoke inhalation and wouldn't have suffered," he said.

It’s particularly tragic considering some tortoises manage to live 150 years. The only solace to this sad tale is to take comfort in the fact that both tortoises died doing something (to someone) they loved.

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