Dinner-plate sized alien terrapin found in West Lothian river

AN ALIEN terrapin has been quarantined after it was found swimming in a West Lothian river.

Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 4:10 pm
Almond the American terrapin

One eagle-eyed angler spotted the intruder in the River Almond at Livingston earlier this week before contacting the Forth Rivers Trust.

The dinner-plate sized illegal immigrant was fished out with a net before being identified by experts as a yellow-bellied slider terrapin, native to the US

Forth Rivers Trust director Alison Baker said: “We reported it to make sure it wasn’t causing any damage and wasn’t in any distress.

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“The feeling was it probably wasn’t causing much damage but it probably wasn’t much good for the terrapin itself so it was removed to a better environment.”

Nicknamed Almond by trust staff, the invader bathed happily in a bucket until officers from the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals arrived.

They confirmed the creature was in good health but not a native of Scotland and so unsuitable for rehoming.

The terrapin is now heading to its new home at a specialist pond in the SSPCA’s Aberdeenshire centre.

Bought as pets but sometimes abandoned in the wild, terrapins have reportedly wreaked havoc down south in recent years, preying on ducklings.

And last February, Sea Life Manchester warned UK aquariums are at capacity after terrapin owners flushed them down the toilet to avoid being caught illegally releasing them into the wild.

As a result, it says, public ponds, canals and lakes are home to large numbers of the animals that have survived the journey through Britain’s sewage plants.

With a life expectancy of 50 years, terrapins can damage pond life and waterfowl, experts warned

Claire Faddel, assistant manager of the Scottish SPCA animal rescue and rehoming centre in Balerno, said: “Thankfully, this yellow-bellied slider is in good health after a full assessment.

“It’s a non-native species typically found in the United States, so we are prohibited from rehoming it.

“However, it will be looked after by our team in Aberdeenshire, where we have a specialist pond for terrapins.

“Releasing non-native species in to a different country has the potential to upset fragile ecosystems.”