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Press x2: Castle visitors warned away from turtle

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Posted by W von Papineäu on September 03, 2002 at 09:49:46:

WESTERN MAIL (UK) 30 August 02 Castle visitors warned away from turtle (Anna Humphries)
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."
Once the turtle has been netted it will be resettled in a home for reptiles in Milton Keynes.

SOUTH WALES ARGUS (Gwent, UK) 29 August 02 Hunt for 'dangerous' turtle
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...
Wildlife experts are trying to catch a turtle which has taken up residence in a pond at a popular Gwent tourist attraction.
The pond, in the shadow of Caldicot Castle, is home to a snapper turtle, like the one we picture, who is causing major headaches for Monmouthshire County Council staff.
They are concerned that the 15 inch long predator ñ which feeds on fish and birds ñ also poses risk to humans.
Caldicot country park warden Phillip Marshall told the Argus: ìSnapper turtles are aggressive creatures who have razor sharp gristle grids in their mouths and incredibly sharp claws that can cut easily through the skin.
“What makes them incredibly dangerous to humans is that they carry a deadly poisonous salmonella bacteria in their hard shells which you can pick up if you touch them.
“Infection can lead to blood poisoning diseases like gangrene.
“We need to make the public aware of the real danger that this turtle poses.
“You wouldn’t think by looking at them that they are so deadly because they are lovely looking creatures.
“If anyone should come into contact with one then they should seek emergency treatment at a hospital immediately."
The turtles are native to Asia and Australia ñ but Mr Marshall said it was probably a pet abandoned at the pond by its owner who was either unable or no longer wanted to look after it.
Mr Marshall said: “Abandoning unwanted pets is a common problem in the area.
“We also have 11 terrapins in the pond but we believe that these have been left deliberately by Asian couples who do it as a good luck charm according to their tradition.”
Mr Marshall said the council were quickly drawing up plans to catch the turtle ìas a priorityî and the terrapins.
He said the turtle often reared its head and was fond of sun-bathing, something it hadnít had much of an opportunity to do this summer.
“It is no laughing matter really and we need to catch it urgently.
“Even though he does come out of the pond, turtles are intelligent and cunning so he may be hard to catch.”
Although its days in the pond look numbered, the turtle will be resettled in a home for reptiles in Milton Keynes once he is safely captured.

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