RSPCA Cymru is appealing for information after a map turtle was found in Cwmbran.
The young male was found on Wednesday (20 July) at Glyntiron, Two Locks, in a green bin in a garden.
RSPCA inspector Gemma Black said: “We don’t know if this turtle is owned and is an escapee or may have been abandoned.
“We’re appealing for information to try and find out where he may have come from.
“We hope this isn’t the case here, but sadly, turtles are often dumped when they become too large or difficult to care for.”
Following an independent vet check the turtle, who appears to be in good health, has been transferred to an exotics specialist.
Anyone who may have information about this turtle should contact the RSPCA inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018. Calls are treated in confidence.
Popular films have always escalated demands for unusual pets – when the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film was released in the 1990s this led to a craze for buying terrapins.
Many ill-informed people snapped up the reptiles and when owners realised that the 50p-sized baby animals grow to the size of a dinner plate and have specialist dietary and accommodation needs some couldn’t cope and simply dumped their pets.
RSPCA animal centres and other rescues were inundated and terrapins were even spotted in public ponds around the country after large numbers were abandoned or given up.
RSPCA exotics senior scientific officer Nicola White said: “Sadly many owners who buy exotic pets on impulse don’t find out how to care for the animals first. When they then realise how much space and care the animal requires they can lose interest, or feel unable to care for them anymore. As a result exotic pets are often abandoned, given up to animal rescue centres or even released into the countryside.
“Turtles became sought-after pets in the late 80s when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were popular, which led to a large number of unwanted terrapins being abandoned when they grew too large or were more difficult to look after than expected.
“Turtles can be complicated animals to care for and can also carry bacteria such as Salmonella. We would strongly urge people to think carefully first before buying an exotic pet.”
“It is both cruel and illegal to release an unwanted exotic pet into the countryside. Most exotic pet reptiles are unlikely to be able to survive in the wild in Britain and non-native species are a serious threat to our native wildlife. It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) to release, or to allow to escape, any species that are not normally native to the UK.
If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 now by texting HELP to 78866 (text costs £3 + one standard network rate message). We are a charity and rely on public donations to exist.