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Exotic pets pose danger to local species

26 July 2019

Terrapin sitting on a rock

​Officers from Natural Environment are asking islanders to think before they buy exotic pets like terrapins.  

Many species of reptiles can become invasive species which, along with other plants, animals, and organisms, can cause environmental harm and a real risk to local biodiversity.

Releasing captive terrapins into the wild has prompted fears for the health of local aquatic and plant life.  The local climate allows them to survive well in the wild and potentially they could start breeding. There is also a possibility that they could spread salmonella to humans and domestic animals and introduce diseases into our native wildlife populations. 

Some pet traders imported a species indigenous to America following the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze in the 1980s. 

John Pinel, Principal Ecologist and Assistant Director Natural Environment, said: “The reality is that these reptiles require a lot of care and they can live for 30 years. When they are hatched they are just a few centimeters in size, however they can grow to the size of a dinner plate and have a nasty bite. At this point, people find them difficult to care for them and need to re-home them. 

“Terrapins could carry disease and they run the risk of infecting our native frogs and toads, it is for this reason we are asking islanders to consider the long-term implications of owning an exotic pet and how they may re-home them in the future.

“People can find good advice and guidelines for caring for terrapins on the RSPCA website.”

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