Shelled animal spotted in park

Friday, 14th May 2021 — By Helen Chapman


Spotted in Finsbury Park

A tropical yellow-bellied creature has been spotted in Finsbury Park causing a stir among ramblers visiting the spring-time ducklings.

Karen Swift, a teacher in Tower Hamlets, was alarmed to find the terrapin eyeing up the Egyptian geese and their goslings over the weekend.

She was walking across Finsbury Park with her seven-year-old daughter on Sunday when she spotted the shelled animal, native to the United States, standing stock still by the lake.

“I saw a few people staring and then I saw it sat it right near the edge of the water poking out,” said Ms Swift, “You could hardly see it move and at first, I thought it could be a model. Then I saw the geese and the goslings and I thought – is it hunting?”

It is understood to be a yellow-bellied slider terrapin and can live to around 30 years in captivity. They are known to eat fish, shrimps, blood worms and locusts.

She said: “I think it might be people buying them as pets, with people selling them unscrupulously without saying how big they will get, when they are the size as a 50p piece, then they grow bigger and bigger and people panic and put them in the waterways. They can grow to the size of a dinner plate.”

The RSPCA said they sometimes get phone calls alerting animal specialists to terrapins in the wild but could not confirm whether they are established or have been dumped by pet owners.

They added it would be “unlikely” they would be able to eat a gosling but advise members of the public to observe from a safe distance if they spot terrapins outdoors. The reptiles can carry salmonella and it is advised not to handle them to reduce spread of infection.

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