Alligator snapping turtle found in Cumbrian tarn


An invasive alligator snapping turtle has been pulled from a Cumbrian tarn.

A dog walker found the exotic creature, which is native to swamps and rivers in southern parts of the US, in Urswick Tarn, near Ulverston, on Monday.

Parish councillor Denise Chamberlain fished it out of the water with a shopping basket and took it to a vet.

Veterinary surgeon Dr Dominic Moule said the turtle, which gives a “nasty bite”, would likely have eaten through everything if it was not rescued.

Ms Chamberlain, who has lived in Florida, saw a social media post about the turtle and “immediately recognised” the species.

“I suspect somebody has bought it and not realised what it is, it has got too big for them to look after or they cannot afford to feed it,” she said.

While it is not illegal to own an alligator snapping turtle, vets do not recommend keeping them as pets due their complicated needs.

Three pairs of gloves

Ms Chamberlain went to retrieve it with the help of residents.

“I was anxious on two levels,” she said.

“One was actually catching it without losing a finger, but also, what was I going to do with it?”

She wore three pairs of builder’s gloves and used a shopping basket to scoop the turtle out, where she transported it to a large container with water from the tarn.

“Everybody rallied round to help”, she explained.

Alligator snapping turtle rescued from tarn

The turtle is an invasive species and would have posed danger to the environment, Dr Moule said

Dr Moule, from Wild Side Vets in Barrow-in-Furness, described the discovery as “extremely surprising”.

“At this size, it could give you a nasty bite but when they get bigger, they can grow up to 80kg (12st) and they can cause some damage,” he said.

He added that the reptile would be “more dangerous for the environment because they will pretty much eat anything”.

“I’m sure if it was left there it would be invasive and eat everything in the water,” Dr Moule continued.

The turtle is being cared for by the veterinary centre before it is rehomed in a zoo or sent to a private keeper, Dr Moule added.


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