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Posted by dsgnGrl on September 03, 2002 at 14:31:50:
The hunt is on to catch a deadly turtle that has made its home in a pond at a beauty spot.
Wildlife experts were called in to identify the creature as a snapping turtle, which normally lives in the steamy swamps of Asia.
And they are baffled how the reptile found its way to the pond in the grounds of Caldicot Castle, Monmouthshire. Visitors to the ancient monument are being warned to beware of the turtle, which sports a razor-sharp bite and poisonous shell.
Monmouthshire County Council staff were yesterday trying to catch the 20-inch long creature, but he was keeping his head down.
Caldicot country park warden Phillip Marshall said, "We have absolutely no idea where the turtle has come from. People often dump unwanted pets in the park but there's no way someone would keep such a dangerous turtle as a pet.
"We couldn't believe it when a lad who was jogging in the park said he had spotted the turtle by the side of the pond. It's a real mystery."
Mr Marshall said snapping turtles usually fed on birds and fish but posed a threat to humans as well.
He said, "They have razor-sharp teeth and incredibly sharp claws that can easily cut through the skin. They are also very aggressive.
"But what makes them most dangerous to humans is that they carry a deadly poisonous salmonella bacteria in their shells.
"You can pick this up if you touch them and infection can lead to potentially fatal blood poisoning diseases like gangrene.
"Our worry is that someone might see it out of the pond and approach, thinking it is a harmless tortoise."
Snapping turtles love sunshine and Mr Marshall is hoping bright weather will tempt the unwanted visitor out of the 18ft-deep pond.
He said, "When it gets really hot he will be out sun-bathing and we will have a chance to catch him.
"But turtles are intelligent and we may have a hard time grabbing him. So far he has only popped his head out of the water a couple of times.
"He seems very happy but it's far too dangerous to let him stay here."