Hull and East Yorkshire residents might just catch a glimpse of an unusual animal when they head to their local park this summer according to a University of Hull researcher.
Dr Africa Gómez, a Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences at the University of Hull, reveals the extent to which terrapins have been found living in the region in a new article published in August’s issue of The Naturalist – the journal of the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union. Produced in conjunction with Dr Richard Shillaker from Hull Natural History Society, the feature reveals that terrapins have been spotted at 32 sites across Hull and East Yorkshire.
Dr Gómez said: “Although not native to the UK, terrapins are widely recorded as living wild in the country. These exotic species were widely sold in the pet trade in the 1990s – largely because of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze. Terrapins that live in the wild in the UK are former pets that have been abandoned when no longer wanted. However, little has been published in terms of the level and existence of terrapins in Hull and East Yorkshire.”
In addition to their own surveys, the researchers reviewed existing data from a range of sources and appealed for new information via social media – they discovered a total of 10 sites in Hull and 22 in the East Riding of Yorkshire where terrapins have been spotted living.
East Park, High Eske Nature Reserve, Walkington village pond, Pickering Park and Pocklington Canal are among the locations where terrapins are known to live in the region. A total of four different terrapin species have been spotted across Hull and East Yorkshire.
Although many sightings were of single terrapins, groups of several terrapins have been recorded at lakes in East Park and Pickering Park.
Dr Gómez explains: “The sunny, warm weather brings terrapins out of the water and onto their basking spots. During the colder months of the year, they hibernate, normally under water. Terrapins are very easily overlooked. They are out of sight when swimming under water or basking somewhere that’s hidden from view and so are generally under-recorded. In Hull, there are recordings of several ‘large’ terrapins in 2 park lakes: 9 have been recorded in East Park lake and 7 were seen together in Pickering Park lake. Though more are thought to be present in both.”