15 April 2007
Teenage non-indigenous omnivore terrapins
Skuds had a post yesterday about feral terrapins. Today I took a trip to a local park and noticed over a dozen red eared Terrapins taking advantage of the warm weather and having a sunbathe by the edge of the ornamental pond.
The Red eared Terrapin (Trechemys scripta elegans) is not indigenous to the UK (no big surprise there). They come from North America and were in big demand during the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle craze.in the 90s. The purchasers did not realise that the tiny 50 pence sized terrapin would grow to around 40cm (16 inches), could live for 40 years, require a lot of care and can deliver a painful bite (not to mention disease)
The terrapins are almost totally aquatic, only leaving the water to bask on sunny days. They hibernate over the winter at the bottom of ponds they enter a state of torpor. They feed on vegetation, insects and small fish, and even ducklings. The British climate is a bit too cold for them to reproduce here
Reptiles & amphibians of the UK