Posted: 11.10.21 at 11:25 by Ellie Brown
A TURTLE is the latest exotic species to be spotted in Teddington's Bushy Park.
A terrapin was spied swimming in the park's lake by visitor Nadia Montasser two weeks ago.
Its appearance follows our article last week which revealed that giant invasive crabs live in Bushy Park.
Nadia shared photos of the small turtle on social networking site NextDoor.
In her post yesterday she wrote: "A couple of weeks ago I saw a turtle swimming in the lake.
"You can see it poking its head on the surface.
"I don’t know how the turtle ended up there. It’s all so weird!"
Terrapins are a type of small turtle which is not native to the UK.
But the creatures were imported here in droves in the 1980s due to a craze for the creatures sparked by 'The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' cartoon.
Sadly many owners ended up dumping their new pet and there are now an estimated 4000 terrapins in the UK's waterways.
This is bad news for local ecosystems as terrapins feed on pond vegetation and animal larvae which harms populations of newts, dragonflies and waterfowl, according to the publication FrogLife.
In 2016, the semi-aquatic reptiles were listed as an EU alien species of concern.
According to Volunteer Park Ranger Cathy Cooper, the terrapin in Bushy Park is a yellow-bellied slider, which is one of the most common species found in the UK.
How the reptile came to the park, known more for its majestic deer herds and magnificent swans, is a mystery.
Back in 2008 The London Naturalist observed that no terrapins had been seen in Bushy Park since 2001.
But records of sightings on social media show the terrapin has been spotted by visitors since 2015.
It is often seen on sunny days basking on a log in the park's Heron Pond, near the Diana Fountain.
The terrapin is unlikely to breed as no mates for it have been seen.
And UK temperatures are usually too cold for terrapin eggs to be able to incubate - they need stretches of 60 days or more at 27 degrees celsius.
Yet with climate change leading to one of the warmest Septembers on record, we could yet see baby turtles in Teddington's local park.
Spotted anything unusual in Bushy Park? Let us know by tagging @TeddingtonNubNews on social media!
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