Terrapins are thriving in Sheffield's parks and green spaces - but it's bad news for other wildlife

Litter pickers were stunned to find a terrapin as they collected waste in a popular Sheffield park.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 10:17 am
Updated Monday, 20th January 2020, 1:18 pm

They made the unexpected discovery in Graves Park earlier this month, and the reptile appeared to be healthy and happy in the cold weather as it was seen ‘shuffling about’ beside a stream.

The litter picker who discovered it said he had been told there were ‘a number’ of them in the park.

Caroline Dewar, of the Friends of Graves Park, said she was not aware before now of any terrapins living there – despite members regularly tending to the park’s wildlife area – though there is plenty of water in the park for them to inhabit.

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Terrapins have been spotted in parks and other green spaces around Sheffield

However, Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust said there were ‘plenty’ of terrapins in lakes and ponds across the region after the turtles were abandoned by their owners and adapted to UK waters.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon is widely credited with having fuelled the demand for them as pets, only for owners to get rid of the creatures once they outgrew their tanks.

Ben Keywood, the trust’s customer and membership support administrator, said: “Sadly it’s true that there are plenty of terrapins in lakes and ponds across Sheffield and Rotherham.

“There was a trend to purchase exotic pets in the 90s and 2000s but as people got tired of them or found them too much to handle they got dumped into the wild.

“Most of the species are native to North America and can survive quite cold weather so have adapted to living in UK waters. Yellow bellied and red-eared sliders being the species that seem to have adapted best.

“They are, however, damaging to our ecosystem as they prey on fish, amphibians and other aquatic life. Terrapins should therefore never be released into the wild and if you see one it should be reported to the landowner – Sheffield City Council in this case.”

According to the Canal & River Trust, there are a few species of terrapins present in UK waterways but they are unlikely to be breeding as terrapin eggs need to be incubated at 25C for around 60 days in order to hatch.