A freshwater turtle is being looked after at Tynemouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium after being rescued from a Northumberland beach by a lifeboat crew.
The red-eared terrapin was discovered on the beach in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea by a member of the local RNLI crew who had spotted it ‘running about like a greyhound’.
It was first spotted more than a week ago but was finally caught on Wednesday and transported to the North Tyneside aquarium where it is being looked after in their new Marine Rescue Centre.
Blue Reef’s Anna Pellegrino said: “We got a call from the RNLI station to say that a turtle had been spotted on the beach and they had managed to catch it.
“At first we thought it could have been a sea turtle that had stranded but, on arrival, it soon became clear that it was actually a freshwater turtle and had almost certainly been dumped on the beach by someone.
“We get several calls a week from people looking to rehome unwanted exotic pets and we usually have to say ‘no’ as we simply don’t have the space.
“However we felt it was only fair to make an exception in this case and ‘Biggi’, as he has been nicknamed, is currently being looked after in our new rescue centre,” she added.
Red-eared terrapins get their name from the small red dash around their ears. The species is also known as ‘sliders’ due to their ability to slide off rocks and logs and into the water quickly.
Freshwater turtles and terrapins remain popular pets and often measure only a few centimetres across when they first purchased. Within a few short years however they can reach 30cms or more and that’s when people start abandoning them.
Many of the country’s lakes have become dumping grounds for exotic reptiles and amphibians and that is posing a potential threat to native species of wildlife which simply can’t cope with sharing their habitat with these aggressive invaders.