Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Diver finds turtle attached to leg

A man found a terrapin attached to his leg after a dive in Cornwall

A diver was left shell-shocked when he emerged from the water and discovered a "very aggressive" turtle attached to his upper leg.

The man had been diving in the Looe estuary in Cornwall when he found the freshwater turtle, known as a red-eared terrapin, on his limb.

Red-eared terrapins are native to America and experts believe this one was an unwanted pet dumped in the water by its owner.

The diver contacted the Clifton Villas veterinary surgery in Newquay, who cared for the terrapin before the town's Blue Reef Aquarium offered it a permanent home.

Paul Strachan, curator at Blue Reef, said the terrapin was "doing very well" after its ordeal.

He said: "It is pretty uncommon for a terrapin to approach someone in the water and grab hold of them but this one was very lucky he did. They are incredibly aggressive and this little guy had become very aggressive as he had been mistreated.

"When I arrived to pick him up from the vets he was trying to bite my fingers. The diver didn't realise it was attached to his upper leg."

Mr Strachan said the diver discovered the turtle last week. He believes it had been dumped in the water a few days previously.

He said: "Red-eared terrapins are fresh water so being in an estuary that was brackish didn't do him much good. He had an infection from going from a warm tank to the cold but is now doing well. He is becoming quite a character.

"The only possible explanation is that he was an unwanted pet. People buy these cute little creatures and either don't realise or fail to take into account the fact that they will keep getting bigger."

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