Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Released terrapins give added headache to wildlife experts

Efforts to make urban ponds more wildlife-friendly are being hampered by exotic terrapins, say Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

The charity’s urban pond regeneration scheme will leave their staff with a unique problem: how to find new homes for exotic terrapins, which, when caught during pond clean-ups, are prohibited by law from being re-released.

Originating from warmer climes, terrapins find it too cold to breed in the United Kingdom – but ‘populations’ have built up following several decades of former owners dumping unwanted pets into urban ponds and lakes.

“Wildlife conservationists have long been aware of the unwelcome effects of releasing non-native plants and animals into the wild – but lately terrapins are proving to be a new headache,” said Rebecca Turpin, London Living Water Officer at Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

“Much of our work involves making ponds more wildlife-friendly, but if terrapins are caught we are then faced with the problem of where to re-home them. Often terrapins end up being taken to animal rescue centres, but sadly many are either full, or lack the finances to look after an animal which can live for over twenty years.”

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is calling for the public to think carefully about buying terrapins over the Christmas period, which is a boom-time for sales of exotic reptiles.

“Baby terrapins might seem attractive pets. But they can grow to the size of a dinner plate. The importation of one species, the red-eared terrapin, was banned over ten years ago - but we’re still finding them in urban ponds because they can live for several decades.” said John Baker, Conservation Officer at Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

“More recently, their numbers have been reinforced by other terrapin species that have taken the place of red-ears in the pet trade.” added Dr Baker.

“Terrapins are best left to specialist pet-keepers. They’re not a suitable pet for casual interest and they certainly shouldn’t be purchased as a present at Christmas - or any other time.”

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is calling on the public to report sightings of exotic amphibian and reptile species (including terrapins) seen in the wild. For more information see the website, Alien Encounters - www.alienencounters.org.uk

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting – details announced

Details of next year’s national conference for those involved in the conservation of amphibians and reptiles are being released today.

The Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting (HWM), is the main event of the year for those interested in learning more about the latest conservation techniques and research into the UK’s amphibians and reptiles.

The event is organised by ARG UK (the Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK) and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

At the conference in Leicestershire, Pond Conservation’s director Jeremy Biggs will be speaking and also leading a workshop on pond management. Other topics will include an update on amphibian disease in the UK, and new educational approaches to promoting snake identification and appreciation.

“The conference is an opportunity to meet lots of interesting people for an enjoyable weekend, as well as a chance to hear a great range of speakers on a diverse range of conservation issues.” said organiser John Baker of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, and ARG UK representative.

The 2010 HWM will be held in Hinckley, Leicestershire on January 30-31st 2010. For further details please see our flyer and booking form

The all inclusive rate includes registration for both days of the conference, accommodation for the Friday and Saturday evening, lunch for both days, the evening meal on the Friday night and evening meal (and social event) on the Saturday evening.

“The recent Amphibian and Reptile Conservation/BHS conference in Bournemouth earlier this month was a sell out, so don't miss out on the HWM by leaving registration to the last minute.”