#Deformed, dead tortoise with wheels is an Instagram sensation

#Deformed, dead tortoise with wheels is an Instagram sensation

June 12, 2020 | 1:13pm | Updated June 12, 2020 | 1:14pm

Helix the tiny tortoise was half reptile, half Tech Deck — and 100% adorable.

Born with a spinal deformity which left him unable to use his back legs, Helix was fated to be immobile until his owner, Randy Betz of Wilmington, Deleware, had the idea to Super Glue mini-skateboard wheels to the tortoise’s hind quarters.

The little guy suffered from “turtle-related spina bifida,” the medical sales rep and “turtle expert” told his local ABC affiliate at the time. “It was very heartwarming to see him as happy as he was, able to move around.”

Betz, 41, began documenting Helix’s adventures on Instagram — but he didn’t become a bona fide social media star until his untimely death. The official @Helixwheels page bears the following memoriam: “Helix was born with a spinal deformity. He couldn’t use his back legs. Then he got wheels. July 31, 2019 — January 16, 2020.”

But Helix’s legacy lives on, with nearly 100,000 followers flocking to the deceased reptile’s Insta while under coronavirus lockdown to bolster their spirits with the adorable photos of his brief life.

“Quarantine has a lot of us with our feet up, relaxing, being lazy. Take advantage of it,” Betz captioned an image posted in May of Helix rocking a set of brown wheels. “Once the gates open back up, the grind will start and your feet will be in constant motion.”


Helix, a tortoise who was born with a back leg deformity and died in January, has found internet fame on Instagram.




Helix, a tortoise who was born with a back leg deformity and died in January, has found internet fame on Instagram.


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Cooped up fans have passed the time in quarantine by drawing art of Helix. Betz also published a series of children’s books inspired by his former pet.

One book, “Helix Rolls Into a Sleepover,” was also inspired by Benjamin Shrader, who has cerebral palsy and “uses his super cool wheels to do just about everything you can imagine,” reads the caption of a post showing Shrader holding the book.

Helix also inspired assorted branded merchandise, including a fingerboard, stickers and a free coloring page.

“From the outside, he might look different,” Meghann Betz, 40, Randy’s wife, told ABC. “The same thing goes if they see a child in a wheelchair or they see someone different. They’re really not different.”

The wheeled-tortoise is far from the only pet to gain movement through a clever contraption: A Texas aquarium employee once rescued a disabled goldfish from a life of immobility by building it a wheelchair, and one man built his sinking goldfish a custom life jacket.


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