Britain's inland waterways were a safer place for bird eggs and insect larvae before these reptiles came along.
Although originally native to Britain around 8,000 years ago, the red-eared terrapin has returned, transported from the USA as pets during the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles cartoon craze of the 1980s.
Today, these pets have grown to the size of a dinner plate and developed enough strength to break free of their tanks. Their subsequent, and irresponsible, release into the wild has prompted fears for the health of local wildlife, as well as the terrapins themselves who are ill-equipped to survive in the damp British climate.
Terrapins, along with tortoises and turtles, are known as Chelonians - reptiles with shells. They are almost totally aquatic but also need dry land to bask on during sunny days. Still waters and rivers in the Midlands and Southern England support the largest terrapin populations.
These are largely made up of American red-eared terrapins, although snapper turtles and European pond terrapins have also been spotted along our waterways. It is unlikely that these animals are breeding, as terrapin eggs need to be incubated at 25 degrees Celsius for around 60 days in order to hatch. Anyone familiar with the British summer knows exactly how unlikely that is!
Last date edited: 29 July 2015