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


Anonymous said...

Don't tell the Tories - we'll have another lot of "are you thinking what we're thinking?" posters banging on about foreigners coming over here eating our ducklings etc.

jams o donnell said...

They could go back to the disgraceful Smethwick by election and bring back a revamped version of that one's slogan: have "If you want a turtle for a neighbour, vote Labour!"

beakerkin said...


Shame on you terapins are salt water Marsh turtles. The reptiles you defamed are turtles. I have had one for 28 years and he is much less of a headache that Earl the cat. Cleaning the tank once a week is easier than cleaning a litter box no hairballs or being awakened at 3 AM with noises or a head but.

Do not be so sure they can not breed. Up until ten years ago we were told they could not hibernate.
The age limit is aslo unknown and may run into the eighties.

They are mostly carnivorous and fish eaters. The tales about ducklings are an exageration. Snapping turtles will do that but they are three times the size.

jams o donnell said...

I am sure what I saw and photographed is a red eared terrapin. It fits the description and it is this species that has colonised ponds.It's also known as a red eared slider.

Agewise I wouldnt be surprised if they lived for longer than 40 years. Look how long tortoises live! As for reproducing here, there is no evidence so far that they have.. the eggs that are laid just don't hatch. The duckling thing is from eyewitness reports but I daresay could be apocryphal....

beakerkin said...


Terapins live in salt water marshes and are different. The third picture is not a red eared slider. It is the closely related Mobile Turtle that is sold with the red eared sliders and they get even larger.

The bottom picture is interesting because reptiles unlike humans grow all their lives. The thin layer on top peels away and a colorful layer comes through.

The turtles are almost entirely carnivorous and they will scavenge anything dead in the water.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Dalmation puppy mills hit its peak in the 90's to supply the crazed demand after the live action '101 Dalmations,' was released. A lot of inbreeding, dalmation abandonment, and other problems soon followed. And Dalmations aren't particularly the brightest dog breed either.

We found a turtle in our backyard last week. Reagan had him cornered. We scooped him up and took him down the street and released him into the bayou where you can live out the rest of his days surrounded by floating trash debris.

jams o donnell said...

Red eared terrapin is the common name given here to what would be described as a turtle in the US?. They seem happy where they are and I was surprised to see so many but then the Teenage mutant craze was big here. I wish people would think things through.

Again why the hell do people not think this through, ewbl.. I am not sure why I am surprised though! I hope mr/ms turtle is happy in the bayou!

beakerkin said...

Allegedly they are excellent eating and raised as food in LA.
However, catching them is another story.

jams o donnell said...

Hmm I'll pass.. then again being a vegetarian I would anyway!

Anonymous said...

nice photography.

Why did the ninja turtle phase result in a demand for red eared terrapins anyway? Do Donatello, Rafaello, etc have red ears? I haven't noticed. Maybe their headbands cover their ears?

Kowabunga dudes!

jams o donnell said...

That I can't say, but a lot were bought for faddish children.