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Invasion of the terror-pin at Valley Ponds in Newhaven

Valley Ponds, Newhaven.

Valley Ponds, Newhaven.

An unusual and predatory visitor has been spotted lurking in Valley Ponds in Newhaven.

This terrapin was snapped by Daniel Craig paddling in the ponds just off Lewes Road a few weeks ago.

Newhaven Town Council said there was only one terrapin known to be living in the ponds at present, although about five years ago there were three of the reptiles.

Community ranger for Lewes District Council Dan Fagan said: “We manage many nature reserves and open spaces across our district and invasive species such as terrapins are a growing issue of conservation concern across the UK.

“We want to remind members of the public that it is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to release any non-native species into the wild in the UK.

“Anyone considering releasing unwanted pets into the wild should instead return them to a pet shop or take them to a rescue centre for re-homing.

“Valley Ponds is a green space owned by Newhaven Town Council and managed by Lewes District Council who is advising on this issue.”

Lewes District Council assistant parks manager for Dan Ross said the next step would be to remove the terrapin from the pond before it chomps its way through local wildlife. It is thought this terrapin has been in the ponds for about a month.

Previously the council had used a humane trap and the terrapins were then given new homes as pets.

This unwelcome pest is not without precedent. In previous years Dan said terrapins had been found in the Pells Lake in Lewes and in a pond in Balcombe Road in Peacehaven.

Usually only individual terrapins are released into ponds by owners who no longer want to care for their pets.

However if the winter is not particularly harsh and there are male and female terrapins in the pond, it is possible they could breed.

They are also voracious predators, eating fish, frog spawn, frogs, toads and worms. In fact Valley Ponds is an important breeding spot for toads which have been in a sharp decline over the last few years.

The terrapin has no natural predator in the UK and there are even reports the animals have attacked small dogs elsewhere in the country.

A total of 150 feral terrapins were removed from a pond on Hampstead Heath in London.

During the 1990s there was an explosion in feral terrapin populations due to their rise in popularity as pets, fuelled by the cult American cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

 

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