Cornwall family's pet tortoise 'killed by seagulls'

Image caption Seagulls are reported to have killed two dogs in the South West in the past three months

Seagulls killed a pet tortoise in Cornwall, according to its owners who have given the latest report of an attack in the South West.

Jan Byrne, 43, from Liskeard, said the birds swooped on tortoise Stig who died two days later from his injuries.

"They turned him over and were pecking at him. We were devastated," said Mrs Byrne.

It follows reports of two dogs being killed by seagulls in the past three months in the region.

Image copyright Jan Byrne
Image caption Jan Byrne is afraid to let surviving tortoise George roam free
Image copyright Emily Vincent
Image caption Yorkshire terrier Roo was reportedly attacked and killed by birds

Seagulls were reported to have attacked and killed Yorkshire terrier Roo in Newquay, Cornwall, last week and in May a Chihuahua puppy was killed in Honiton, Devon, a local newspaper reported.

Insurance agent Mrs Byrne said the attack on the tortoise happened in the back garden of her house.


  • Gulls evolved more than 15 million years ago in the northern Atlantic
  • Herring gulls have suffered a 50% decline over the past 30 years
  • In 2009 the herring gull was added to the Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern, which is drawn up by a group of charities and conservation organisations. Red is the highest conservation priority, with urgent action deemed to be needed to protect the species
  • The great black-backed gull is the largest gull in the world
  • Its powerful beak can smash, stab and tear with ease

Source: BBC Nature

She said she chased the two seagulls off after the attack, which happened three weeks ago.

Despite attempts to treat his wounds, Stig died two days later, she said.

'Horror movie'

"It was like a bloody scene from a horror movie, I found Stig upside down with blood pouring from his wounds.

"The vet said he had died of an infection.

"We had Stig for 15 years and he was more than 20 years old. My daughter was distraught."

Stig's brother George avoided the attack and a pet rabbit, Petal, was protected by being in her run, said Mrs Byrne.

"There are seagulls around here all the time, I assume they are attracted by rubbish.

"But now I'm also concerned about more attacks so I can't let George out to roam any more."

Liskeard Town Council has issued advice to residents about protecting their rubbish sacks from seagulls.

It includes tips such as covering bins in old carpet to prevent seagulls.

"The availability of food appears key to attracting seagulls," said an authority spokeswoman.

"They are pretty ruthless and when they have offspring they just act on instinct to protect their young."

Related Topics

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites