The previous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze in the 1980s and 90s led to thousands of match-box sized baby terrapins being bought as pets. But when this North American native, which grows to the size of a dinner plate, got too big for domestic tanks, they were often released by owners into the wild where they have been causing damage to native wildlife ever since.
Mark Robinson, national ecologist for the Canal & River Trust explains: “Like any baby animal, young matchbox-sized terrapins are pretty cute but people need to understand what they're taking on when they buy them as pets. They can be pretty big, pretty grumpy and pretty smelly which means that sadly some people just fall out of love with them.
“Terrapins can live for up to 40 years and we're still dealing with the effects of the last turtle power craze, with hungry terrapins munching their way through our native wildlife including dragonfly and damselfly larvae, small fish, frogspawn and even ducklings. It harms the ecology of our canals and makes them less special places to visit.”
“Our advice is to do your research, understand what you're taking on and, if you are struggling to cope, please don't release it into your nearest canal. Speak to your local pet shop or animal charity. They'll be able to advise on options for rehoming which is not only better for the animal but protects all the really important native wildlife in our wonderful canals.”