digChristine Carr took this photo of a terrapin in the Swansea Canal: This is what she said about the unexpected meeting;-

“To say it was a surprise to me to see a terrapin sunbathing on the side of Swansea Canal is an understatement.  However, as it didn’t seem to want to interrupt its sun soaking despite the rude interruptions of a curious human, I thought it too good an opportunity to miss and whipped out my smartphone to take some photos so I’d have some evidence to support my story to any unbelievers.  It was quite a large terrapin with a shell the size of a teaplate and appeared unperturbed by my intrusion on its privacy.  When it did decide to move it went at a slow leisurely pace, gliding to the middle of the canal with its head out of water and then diving down beneath the surface.  It seemed well fed, fit and healthy.  How on earth would it survive?”

The Canal and River Trust list terrapins under their ‘Rogues Gallery’ of invasive species. They say that Britain’s inland waterways were a safer place for bird eggs and insect larvae before these reptiles came along.

Many were unthinkingly released into rivers and canals of at the end of the Teenage Hero Mutant Turtle craze of the eighties as the terrapins got too big for their owners’ liking.

This  irresponsible release into the wild has prompted fears for the health of local wildlife, as well as the terrapins themselves who are ill-equipped to survive in the damp British climate.

They can live for up to 40 years but in Britain’s damp climate they are unlikely to survive that long.

It is unlikely that these animals are breeding, as terrapin eggs need to be incubated at 25 degrees Celsius for around 60 days in order to hatch. Anyone familiar with the British summer knows exactly how unlikely that is!

There were however reports of young terrapins being seen in London Canals in 2013 where temperatures are always just little higher than in Swansea.

This recent sighting of an adult has been reported to the Canal and River Trust who own most of the Swansea Canal. Their website page on terrapins can be seen at:-


Please let us know if you have other sightings of terrapins on Welsh canals.


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