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The Fastest Tortoise in the World – Meet Bertie

Bertie world fastest tortoise
Bertie next to his Guinness World Record certificate. Screenshot from YouTube video by Guinness World Records

When hearing the word fastest, the word tortoise hardly ever springs to mind. Nonetheless, Bertie broke the stereotype and was crowned the world’s fastest tortoise in 2014! To this day he still holds the Guinness World Record.

YouTube Video via Guinness World Records

Meet Bertie

Bertie is a Leopard Tortoise, who lives in Brasside, Durham, northeast England in the family adventure park, Adventure Valley. Bertie joined the family in Adventure Valley after his original human parent emigrated, and Janine and Marco Calzini adopted him. Little did they know that an exceptional animal joined their family! 

The Unlikely Champion

Bertie fastest tortoise
Bertie and his girlfriend, Shelly, with his favorite snack. Screenshot from YouTube video by Guinness World Records

Leopard tortoises, like most, are known for their lack of speed. With walking speeds ranging between 0.056 m/s to 0.14m/s on average. Setting Bertie far above the average! He broke all stereotypes (and expectations) when he reached a speed of 0.28 m/s in 2014. 

Journey to Fame

When Bertie joined life on Adventure Valley, his owners did not think much about his speed at first. They did, however, notice that he was significantly faster than his girlfriend, Shelly. And it was not long before visitors started commenting on his ability to move around quickly. This got Janine and Marco thinking – maybe he could be the fastest tortoise. After looking at the Guinness World Records they discovered that at the time Charlie the Tortoise held the title at 0.125 m/s since 1977.


Not long after, the organization of Bertie’s record-breaking attempt started. Adhering to the strict criteria from Guinness World Records, an architect built an 18ft track with a 1-in-12 gradient on Adventure Valley. Mimicking the conditions under which Charlie set the previous record. Two official timekeepers were also recruited from Sunderland, the local football club. And to ensure Bertie’s safety, a vet was present among the witnesses who all had to supply official statements on the event. 

The Big Moment

Bertie world fastest tortoise
Bertie crossing the finish line at Adventure Valley. Screenshot from YouTube video by Guinness World Records

Motivated by his favorite treat, strawberries, at the finish line, Bertie set out on the inclined track. Chasing the record set by Charlie in 1977, who covered 18 feet in 43.7 seconds at the National Tortoise Championships in Tickhill, South Yorkshire. With his feet sweeping the air already, Bertie was placed on the track and the timers started. Bertie stomped on with determination while the onlookers cheered. The timers were stopped at 19.59 seconds – Bertie more than halved Charlie’s time, absolutely smashing the record! 

Crowned Champion

Bertie world fastest tortoise
Bertie next to his Guinness World Record certificate. Screenshot from YouTube video by Guinness World Records

Bertie received his official certificate crowning him as the fastest tortoise in the world, a title he still owns 10 years later! He quickly reached fame, and although there are more than 200 animals in Adventure Valley, Bertie is still the crowd favorite. 

Bertie’s Legacy

These days, at age 20, Bertie lives a happy, albeit slower, life with his family. He and his girlfriend, Shelly, have two sons – Dip Dab and Sherbet. And the two active boys keep them busy! Here’s to hoping that Bertie passed along his speed and that one of the two might grow up to break their father’s record. 

Final Say on Bertie’s Record

Bertie fastest tortoise
Bertie next to his entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. Screenshot from YouTube video by Guinness World Records

Bertie’s record as the fastest tortoise at 0.28 m/s is not only incredible but inspiring. With no one being able to explain Bertie’s speed, he remains a display of extraordinary abilities from unexpected sources. Inspiring everyone to believe they can achieve their dreams.

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