Au revoir to Terence the terrapin

IPSWICH today says a temporary goodbye to one of the town's best loved pets.

IPSWICH today says a temporary goodbye to one of the town's best loved pets.

As the water flowed out of Ipswich's Christchurch Park's Wilderness Pond this week, one of its best known residents was left high and dry - until he was rescued by a bold member of staff.

Terence the terrapin has made his home in the pond, which is undergoing cleaning, since he was released around 15 years ago.

As the pond has been worked on, his future has been a great concern to many visitors.

But on Tuesday, park gardener Trevor Sargeant leapt into action and grabbed the creature which is now waiting to go to a terrapin rescue centre before he can be returned to the pond in around 10 weeks' time.

Park manager Sam Pollard said no one quite knew how Terence arrived in the pond - or whether it really is Terence or Teresa.

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He said: “We think he was probably bought as a pet during the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles craze and then got too big.

“Terrapins are meat eaters - a friend of mine tells me they like Spam - and that makes them very smelly.

“They look cute when they are about two inches long, but when they get full-sized they're difficult to keep and they can be quite aggressive so we think someone just left him in the pond.”

In captivity, terrapins live to the age of about 25 so Terence should have another 10 years in the pond once it is cleaned out.

It is illegal to release non-native species into the wild in this country, but Mr Pollard does not think there will be any problem with allowing Terence to continue living on the pond.

He said: “He will be unable to mate, he will not cause any problems for the park eco-system, and has become something of a celebrity.

“Everyone has been asking what has happened to him. Well, he's safe and he will be back as soon as the pond is ready - probably in about 10 weeks' time.

“There's quite a lot for him to eat there. During the spring he'll eat tadpoles and young frogs.

“Then he'll take other pond life and will eat the body of any dead birds on the water. He might even take some young ducklings or goslings - and given the problems the birds cause us we aren't to sorry about that.”

Terence does not appear to be too happy about the attention he has been receiving. When Mr Segeant picked him up for his photograph, the terrapin's strong claws slashed the first pair of gloves he wore.

Mr Sergeant said: “We were trying to get him out and I saw him under a log and was able to just pick him up - he's certainly quite lively.”

Weblinks:

www.reptilehouse.net

www.ipswich.gov.uk/Services/Parks+and+Landscapes/Christchurch+Park/

N Have you seen Terence in the pond? Do you think he should be returned to the pond? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk>

N They come from Central and South America and live in freshwater lakes and rivers as opposed to turtles which live in the sea.

N They cannot breed outdoors in Britain - they need 60 continuous days of temperatures over 25C for eggs to hatch.

N There are believed to be several terrapins in parks in Ipswich - there is certainly one in Holywells Park.

N They are unlikely to bite - but have to be handled with gloves because they carry the salmonella bug in their gut.

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