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Posted by W von Papinešu on July 31, 2002 at 11:12:36:
In Reply to: Press: Crusty the terrapin terrorises Wigan posted by W von Papinešu on July 31, 2002 at 11:02:45:
WIGAN DAILY NEWS (UK) 26 July 02 Eye pie new marauders (Richard Bean)
Wigan's wildlife chief has issued a warning after an alien invader was spotted skulking near Wigan Flashes.
Alarmed nature fan Jayne Symon was amazed to see a large "turtle" on the banks of popular angling haunt, Red Pond, Worsley Mesnes.
The reptile, the size of a small dinner plate, was identified as a North American Red Eared Terrapin which undoubtedly arrived in the country as a pet.
The Worsley Mesnes care worker says that she saw something strange apparently attacking a grebe's nest. As she got closer she found it was a large reptile.
Metro countryside services manager Graham Workman identified the terrapin which could be up to 15 years old.
It is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to release such creatures because the naturalised flora and fauna do not recognise this "meat pie on legs" as a potential foe.
Graham said: "I'm alarmed but not necessarily that surprised that this reptile has been found at Red Pond because it is sadly a growing problem.
"They are bought as children's pets at a couple of inches across but after a few years they grow to 10in across, outgrow your fish tank, and become snappy and aggressive.
"People flush them down the toilet or release them in ponds thinking they will die. But that doesn't happen.
"Because they are from North America they can stand quite cold winters so they hibernate at the bottom of the pool and then keep on growing each year.
"They have very catholic tastes and will eat everything from rare amphibians like great crested newts to toads, tadpoles, waterfowl chicks and fish, in fact they really aren't fussy which is why they do well.
"Our real worry is what will happen if they start to breed.
Wigan Council's wildlife warden service would like to be kept informed of terrapin sightings so that it can gauge the scale of the problem.