Emma Fox, 30, and 45-year-old Paul Butler returned to find their Berkshire property up in flames after leaving 70-year-old reptile Fred in a tank full of straw underneath a heat lamp.
The couple had brought Fred inside when she came out of hibernation early, and placed her under the light for warmth.
But Fred piled her straw up until it caught alight under the lamp, spreading flames throughout the house causing much smoke damage and destroying all the downstairs furniture and front door.
Emma said: "We were shopping when we got a call from the fire brigade saying our tortoise had set the house on fire. Our neighbour heard the smoke alarm go off and called them."
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