Hastings Blue Reef Aquarium has issued a stark warning over the growing problem of the dumping of ‘exotic’ pets.
The prompt comes after four terrapins were dumped at the Rock-a-Nore Road aquarium in the last two weeks.
Aquariums across the country have seen a big rise in the numbers of exotic fish, reptile and amphibian species being abandoned in recent weeks.
Experts believe this is because many new owners do not realise how quickly some pets grow as they get older.
“Unfortunately the problem with unwanted exotic pets like terrapins and turtles is literally a growing one,” explained Blue Reef’s Adam Stockley.
“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.
UK lakes have become dumping grounds for terrapins and this poses a potential threat to native species of wildlife which can’t cope with sharing their habitat with aggressive invaders.
The aquarium is now unable to house any more terrapins and has issued a plea to would-be owners to think very carefully before buying them.
Adam said: “Every week we receive phone calls and requests from the public to re-home fish and other exotic pets which have outgrown their tanks.
“We help where we can but we have limited resources and if the individual creatures cannot find a suitable new home then their options are very limited.”