Originally bought as pets following the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze of the 1980s and 90s. It's thought that the terrapins were then dumped in the nearest canal when they grew too big for domestic tanks.
In contrast to the heroic figures of the cartoon series however, the terrapins are causing mayhem and threatening native species on the Ashby Canal. Instead of pizza these turtles prefer to eat dragonfly and damselfly larvae, small fish, frogspawn and even ducklings, threatening the ecology of the canal.
In response we're putting together a team of volunteers to help catch the terrapins so that they can be passed to experts from the British Chelonia Group who will be able to safely rehome them.
Size of a dinner plate
Terrapins are often purchased when only the size of a matchbox but go on to grow up to the size of a dinner plate. In the waterways they are voracious predators and can cause real damage to the natural environment.
The Ashby Canal which runs for 22 miles through rural Leicestershire is an important wildlife habitat, with some sections designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
The feisty terrapins don't like being handled and can bite so we're looking for people with experience of working with them. Protective equipment, nets and tanks will be provided but volunteers will need their own transport to move the terrapins once caught.
Richard Bennett, senior ecologist for the Trust said; “This is certainly an unusual opportunity but these terrapins can cause real damage munching their way through the canal so it's important that we step in and take action.
“We're looking for people with some experience – and quick reflexes - to help us catch the terrapins and move them to somewhere that keeps them and the wildlife within the canal safe.
“The volunteers will help us to say ‘sayonara' to these turtles once and for all on the Ashby Canal and protect the native wildlife that makes the canal such a special place for people to visit.”
To find out how you can get involved with this and many other roles on the nation's historic canals please visit our volunteering pages.