The turtle has been dubbed Fluffy, but its prickly exterior and reputation for biting make it a risky choice for anyone seeking a cuddle.
On Monday, a reptile resembling a dinosaur, known as an alligator snapping turtle, was saved from a body of water in Cumbria. This species is typically found in swamps and rivers in the southern regions of the United States and has the ability to break bones.
A dog walker in the area noticed a unique animal taking a bath in the shallow waters of Urswick Tarn, a small lake close to Ulverston. They turned to Facebook for assistance in identifying the creature.
Denise Chamberlain, a council member from Urswick, is a tortoise owner and has previously resided in Florida for a few years. She was notified about the social media post by a friend and immediately identified the unique carnivorous species mentioned.
“I observed it and immediately recognized: oh my, I know what you are,” stated Chamberlain. “I have encountered snapping turtles in their natural habitat, but on a larger size. They can reach up to 14 stone in weight – and they have the ability to snap fingers.”
Although young, this snapping turtle is still capable of inflicting a painful bite, according to the speaker. The turtles possess a natural means of protection; when approached, they will open their mouth.
Although snapping turtles are not prohibited as pets in this nation, they can be costly and challenging to take care of. Therefore, it is plausible that Fluffy was abandoned in the tarn by a previous owner.
After completing an initial survey of the lake to confirm the identification of the reptile, Chamberlain proceeded to make several phone calls in an attempt to coordinate a rescue operation. He was aware that these species were not native to the area and their presence could disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem in the lake.
Turtles do not have any natural enemies, and can reach a length of approximately 80cm and have a lifespan of 70 years. They are commonly found in South and Central America and have strong jaws that can break through bones. Chamberlain stated, “Although they may not reproduce, these creatures can cause significant harm to fish populations and consume various forms of local wildlife.”
Despite Chamberlain’s attempts to seek assistance, she was unsuccessful. Therefore, even though she had no prior experience, she made the decision to save the turtle on her own.
Using a plastic container, she collected water from the tarn. She then grabbed a plastic shopping basket and put on protective gloves before stepping into the muddy water up to her calves.
The turtle was sitting in the shadows and appeared angry, with only its nose visible above the water. It was positioned near the surface to soak up the sun’s rays while remaining submerged to breathe. The observer described it as resembling a miniature prehistoric dinosaur.
As she approached, the creature revealed its powerful, beak-shaped jaw. “Thankfully, given the low temperature and the turtle’s own coolness, it was not too challenging to transfer it into the shopping basket.”
After thoroughly examining the reptile at home to ensure it was uninjured, Chamberlain fed it raw chicken and subsequently brought it to Wild Side Vets in Barrow-in-Furness.
The clinic’s owner and veterinarian, Dr. Kate Hornby, initially believed the creature was a terrapin but was taken aback to discover it was an alligator snapping turtle.
“This is the first one we have encountered at the clinic. These animals are typically found in the UK, but they are not a common sight at veterinarian offices,” the veterinarian informed PA Media.
She stated that while it may give a painful bite and potentially cause harm to a finger or fingertip, it is not overly hazardous at this small size.
The alligator snapping turtle will be moved to a reptile center on Monday and placed in warmer waters to increase its metabolism, according to her.
She believed that it was once kept as a pet, but its owners may have had difficulty meeting its needs or no longer wanted it.
According to her, reptiles are not commonly seen at the clinic and when they do come, it is usually due to improper care.
Conduct thorough research on the specific species you wish to keep, ensuring that you have suitable housing and sufficient knowledge.
According to her estimation, the turtle is approximately five or six years old. However, they have not determined its gender due to its size, so for the time being, they have named it Fluffy.
Chamberlain stated that the name Fluffy is fitting because it is reminiscent of the creature in Harry Potter. He also noted that a Facebook user mentioned that the animal resembles one that Hagrid would adore.