The RSPCA is appealing for information after five turtles were abandoned in a plastic box at the side of a road in Rugby.

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A member of the public found the turtles in a clear 40-litre Wilko box on Daventry Road, in Barby, at 4pm on Thursday last week (16 March).

Four of the turtles have been identified as common musk turtles, and the fifth has been identified as a map turtle. They are now in the care of a specialist exotics centre in the West Midlands.

RSPCA Animal Welfare Officer Ben Jones, who collected the turtles, said: “The turtles had been irresponsibly left at the side of a busy road, compromising their own safety. Who knows how long they had been there for, but we’re grateful that they were found and they are now in the best place.

“We are urging anyone who has any information about how they came to be abandoned to contact us in complete confidence on 0300 123 8018.”

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Nicola White, the RSPCA’s exotics senior scientific officer, said: “We’re extremely concerned about the number of abandoned reptiles the RSPCA are being called about.  Last year we rescued 1,700 reptiles, many as a result of being abandoned like these turtles.

“Sadly many owners who buy exotic pets on impulse don’t find out how to care for the animals first and they are often handed over to buyers in pet shops with little or no information about how to care for them, or the commitment that is involved in keeping them healthy. When owners then realise how much space and care the animal requires they can lose interest, or feel overwhelmed and unable to care for them anymore. As a result reptiles 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.

“Reptiles may look resilient and tough on the outside but they are actually completely reliant on their owners for heat, light, humidity, food and water – and can easily become poorly or suffer if these are not provided at the correct levels for the species.

“It is for this reason that we are urging potential owners to research and look into what is required in the care of their pet first before taking one on so they know what is involved and how long it is likely to be for. There are books full of information on how to care for all sorts of species and specialist vets are an excellent source of support and advice.”

Anyone who would like further information on how to care for exotic animals should visit www.rspca.org.uk/exotics

The RSPCA is a charity and we rely on public donations to exist. To assist our inspectors in carrying out their vital work please text HELP to 78866 to give £3. (Texts cost £3 + one standard network rate message.)