Large terrapin spotted in Cranleigh pond

Large terrapin spotted in Cranleigh pond

A large terrapin, which is thought to be an abandoned pet, has been spotted at a woodland pond in Cranleigh.

Martin Bamford took photos of the creature while out walking in local woodland with family, after being told by local residents about its presence.

He spotted it sunning itself on a log near the side of the pond.

The pet reptiles are often dumped in British ponds and waterways when they become too large. When purchased from pet shops, terrapins are no larger than a 50p coin.

It is an offence to release or allow a non-native animal to escape into the wild under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.

There are an estimated 4,000 feral terrapins in the UK, although they struggle to live in the wild, with an estimated annual mortality rate of between 40% and 80%.

Terrapins need a specific water temperature, a good depth of water, and flowing well-oxygenated water, along with areas suitable for basking in the sun.

They also need good access to suitable food.

When living in cool shared areas, such as this woodland pond, the reptiles are unlikely to raise their body temperature sufficiently to move around, eat and digest food. When the temperature drops below 16 degrees Celius, they stop foraging for food entirely, which means a cold summer can lead to insufficient fat stores to survive through hibernation.

The cold UK climate can also lead to a compromised immune system for these creatures, making them more prone to disease.

The release of non-native herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) has been increasing in the UK and many of these animals can also carry diseases that can be spread to our native wildlife.

Non-native species that are present in the UK are estimated to cost the economy £1.7 billion per year.

Large terrapin spotted in Cranleigh pond

Large terrapin spotted in Cranleigh pond

The Terrapin spotted in Cranleigh is thought to be a Yellow-bellied slider, a land and water-based turtle belonging to the family Emydidae.

Adult males can reach 5 to 9 inches in length, with females ranging from 8 to 13 inches.

The lifespan of a pond terrapin is around 30 years in captivity, according to the RSPCA.

Back to top