A freshwater turtle has been rescued after being discovered apparently washed up on a Cornish beach.
The musk turtle, which measures around seven centimetres in length, is recovering at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium after being spotted by a couple out walking on Crantock Beach.
Aquarists believe the turtle, which cannot survive in seawater, may have been dumped into the River Gannel and was washed downstream and into the sea.
It’s the latest in a growing number of exotic pets which are being abandoned or ‘released’ in to the wild and has prompted the Towan Promenade aquarium to issue an appeal for more responsible pet ownership.
Blue Reef’s Steve Matchett said: “It’s extremely fortunate this little turtle was found when it was or it would have almost certainly have died.
“Potential pet owners need to understand that turtles and terrapins can live for over 25 years, so are a long-term commitment even more than a cat or dog, plus they need the correct set-up with heating, filters and size of aquarium.
“People buy these cute little creatures and either don’t realise or fail to take into account the fact that they will keep getting bigger.
“For example red-eared terrapins begin life as these incredibly miniature reptiles which are about the size of a box of matches.
“Within a few short years however they can reach 30cms or more and that’s when people start abandoning them,” he added.
It is also illegal to release these animals into the UK countryside.
The common musk, or stinkpot, turtle is found throughout parts of Canada and the United States.
The turtles, which only reach a maximum length of 14 centimetres, have earned their noxious nickname as a result of the highly efficient defence mechanism; when attacked by predators the turtles release a foul smelling musk from their undersides.
Anyone who spots terrapins or turtles in the wild should get in contact with their local animal rescue organisation.
Issued by Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews, picture or filming opportunities please contact Steve Matchett or Lara Mingay on 01637 878134.