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'Fluffy' the Alligator Snapping Turtle

BBC News - February 2024

‘Fluffy’ the Alligator snapping turtle, featured in the news recently, has been transported to the team at the National Centre for Reptile Welfare. Although, many have commented on how big he looked in the photos, he measured in at only 17.4cm SCL (Straight carapace length) and weighs only 1.16kg. So under a ruler length and weighing the equivalent of a bag of sugar. When handled, he closed his eyes and didn’t open his mouth so it is a shame he has been portrayed by the media as a ‘beast’ that would ‘eat children’. This was not appropriate.

We’ve been able to check him over and think he’s a juvenile male. He seems to have what we consider signs of metabolic bone disease (MBD). The carapace and plastron (top and bottom of the shell) are flexible and soft. We have a smaller and younger AST at the centre whose shell is much harder and the plastron more flat. Unfortunately, if these animals are not provided the correct husbandry i.e. heating, UV lighting and appropriate diet (supplements) they can suffer with this issue. We don’t tend to see it often likely due to husbandry standards, education of keepers and awareness being better understood nowadays. With changes to husbandry provision, ‘Fluffy’ will improve with time. These animals grow to huge sizes (up to ~100kg) and need large enclosures so are not appropriate to be kept by everyone, even some more experienced keepers.

This individual would not have survived if it had not been recovered so we certainly do not consider them invasive in the UK.

Rehome pets responsibly, don’t release into the wild.​


SeaLife London Aquarium Aqua Nights

Friday 22nd September

An amazing evening spending several hours when the aquarium is closed to the public except for these special evening tickets. A beautiful setup by the sea turtle tank where we gave a talk on released pet terrapins and were able to talk to attendees about the topic. Thank you so much to SeaLife who continue to be very supportive of our work. The ticket sales also went to the SeaLife charities.


Wimbledon and Putney Commons Open Day

10th September 2023

We met so many wonderful people and talked all things turtles. Many of the public had questions about the terrapins living in the ponds on the common so we talked about where we see them and why they are there. We engaged with kids talking about responsible pet ownership and how we shouldn't release our pets in the wild. Thank you to the rangers and staff at the Commons who were very welcoming and excited to have our support on the issue.

SEH Herpetological Congress at University of Wolverhampton

4th-8th September 2023

We had an amazing time joining delegates from across Europe to listen to experts and academics present their research work on varied herpetological topics. A great opportunity to network and meet old friends and make new ones. Thank you to the organising committee for working so hard to bring an epic conference to us.


BIAZA Reptile and Amphibian Working Group (RAWG) Conference 
29th June -1st July 2022

Held at Askham Bryan College

Thank you for inviting us to speak at the conference. We wanted to highlight the importance of education on the issue of released pets and that zoos can get involved too. Due to large numbers being housed in zoos (approximately <500) it would be wonderful to have feature enclosures that can have interpretive signage to encourage more responsible rehoming rather than releasing into the UK countryside. We see numerous reptiles at the National Centre for Reptile Welfare that have been relinquished in the wild and many are in poor health needing veterinary attention. By educating the public on sanctuaries and rescues who are able to take these animals and regime them (judgement free), we can potentially prevent further releases.


Meet Claudia...a common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

Claudia will help us educate the public on potential impacts of released species.

We removed Claudia from an inlet off of a canal recently. She has been visiting this location over the last 6 years and basking in a shallow area in the waterway. When we brought her in to the National Centre for Reptile Welfare to be welfare assessed, she had no wounds, no scars, was in great condition and had clearly been eating very well! (weighing 10kg). Claudia, being a common snapping turtle, will primarily be carnivorous, eating birds, fish and rodents. We do recommend these animals be removed as, compared to slider terrapins (primarily herbivorous), they are more likely to impact wildlife surrounding them. These animals should only be handled by experienced handlers.

Claudia will help us to show how big these animals get and that they are not a suitable pet to own considering their housing requirements.


Hadlow Village Fete
2nd July 2022

Turtle Tally on Tour

A massive thank you to Paul and Olivia for manning the event to talk to the public on the issues of released pet terrapins. They are highlighting the issues of them growing to such sizes that make it difficult to keep them as pet owners.

SeaLife UK Manchester Aquarium Interpretive Signage

Massive thank you to SeaLife UK for creating these amazing educational signs with us!

SeaLife centres do receive numerous terrapins each year due to pet owners being unable to keep them any longer. They wanted to collaborate with us to try to help prevent releases and encourage responsible pet ownership. Please do head to their Manchester aquarium to see the signage and the educational tour that accompanies it.

Midnight Mastermind BBC Radio 2 - World Turtle Day!

Testing the presenters on their turtle knowledge.

Suzie was asked to take part in the Midnight Mastermind quiz to test the presenter on their knowledge. They are told the topic and have the length of one song to revise, then they are asked 3 questions. Phil Williams was presenting and gave it a good go! Take a listen on playback on BBC Sounds (May 23rd Midnight)


EK Magazine Prize Draw

All participants will be entered into the draw!

You could win over £100 in prizes as a part of the Exotic Keeper Magazine supporting the Turtle Tally project. Every person who enters their sightings will be entered into the prize draw to win and will contacted at the end of the year.


BHS AGM at Chester Zoo May 2022

Great response from attendees at the latest BHS AGM at Chester Zoo. We were able to update the members of the progress of the Tally and announce some exciting happenings!


Metro news: Rescue in drying up pond

Terrapin found in muddy pond

This was the first time we have been contacted to rescue a terrapin and we normally recommend leaving them unless sick, injured or causing harm to native wildlife. But this was a terrapin in a drying up muddy pond with no waterbodies nearby. There were dogs running into the pond where the animal was and we decided that the best solution was to try to remove and rehome to one of our sanctuaries. 'Trouble' was an adult female yellow-bellied slider and we are pleased to have found her and she has been rehomed under the NCRW.

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Arc Trust and ARG UK Herpetofauna Workers Meeting 2021

9th February 2021

What an amazing online event with some fantastic speakers on various topics. They covered climatic changes affecting species populations to pond creation and newt mitigation. A wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our research in the poster room. Thank you for giving Turtle Tally the opportunity to do so.

Red Leaves

Support from Vetark

8th February 2021

The more people we talk to, the more support we receive and we are thrilled that Vetark are wanting to support the project. They are providing products to our National Centre for Reptile Welfare for the animals brought in for rehoming. They are also providing assistance with publicising the project through online lectures and event. Thank you Vetark for your support is really appreciated!

Mitchell, J. Terrapin on nest.JPG
Open Book

Reaching the angling community...

Fishing Licence Newsletter

16th January 2021

We're excited to have an article going out in the Spring in the Fishing Licence Newsletter to publicise the survey to anglers. We are looking at terrapin presence in fishing lakes in collaboration with the Angling Trust.

ARG UK Online Seminars: Invasive Non-native Species in the UK

26th November 2021

A great evening on the panel regarding invasive non-native species in the UK. We were invited to talk by ARG UK on the topic of released pet terrapins in the UK and the aims of our project relating to this. An excellent panel of experts joined and we were able to showcase the importance of the National Centre for Reptile Welfare in aiding the rehoming of reptile and amphibian species, be them through passed ownerships or released animals brought to the centre. We work closely with the centre collecting data and the further collaboration with more groups and societies will aid in the progression towards solutions and answers on this topic.

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