About The Project
What is the purpose of the Tally?
The Turtle Tally project was initiated and developed at the end of 2018. The aim was to research the topic of released pet terrapins in the UK as there was little available. The idea was to provide a survey that could be accessed by the general public to upload photos and information on terrapins seen whilst out and about similar to other wildlife citizen science projects. Terrapins (freshwater turtles) are widespread across Europe and released pets have had an impact on those populations due to competition for food and basking sites. The European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) was native here circa 8000 years ago but due to climatic changes they became extinct (although remnant populations are noted) so there are no native freshwater terrapins in the UK. Unlike in Europe, where released terrapins out-compete native species, this is not a factor here in the UK but we are uncertain of how these released pets impact the environment and what the welfare considerations are for them. Our research is evolving and we are investigating various related factors in this topic to provide evidence informing future decision making regarding these turtles and their welfare.
Using the locations and information that people provide, we can see if there are correlations between urban areas and release sites, the numbers seen in one sighting and types of habitat. This is purely an observational study so we are using the data to map out locations and linking with other groups and organisations, working on research that may help conserve native fauna and flora and the terrapins themselves. If you have any queries regarding the research, please do send an email using the 'Get in touch' link.
The BIG Question
Turtle or Terrapin or both?
Many people ask us what is the difference between the word turtle and terrapin. Chelonians, is the umbrella term for all species of tortoises, turtles and terrapins. Tortoises are 'land turtles' so spend more time on land and you can see their feet are more adapted to walking on land.
Often, in the UK, we use the term 'terrapin' to refer to freshwater turtle species. Sea or marine turtles are those living and dwelling primarily in the sea. Additionally, if you look at the limbs of freshwater and marine turtles, they differ. Freshwater terrapins have claws and webbed feet to use both on land and water whereas sea turtles have flippers as they are primarily sea dwelling creatures (more aquatic).