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The Beast

Behold, the Creature of Chislehurst Pond.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “silly Limies – that there’s a turtle. And not a very impressive specimen.” And you’d be right. But, believe it or not, there are no turtles in Britain.

No, really. They have tortoises — land shellbacks. We recently met a specimen who had been handed down as a family pet for over a generation. But they don’t have any water shellbacks. There are some on the Continent, in the more southerly climes (where they are usually called terrapins), but here they seem wild and exotic.



Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: May 29, 2014, 11:26 pm

Is that a snappin[g] turtle? & yeah, the article calls it a “terrapin” but I’m pretty sure those feet are (water-dwelling) turtle feet.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 30, 2014, 12:01 am

A terrapin is a freshwater turtle. And nah, that’s no snapping turtle. It’s a sun turtle or whatever it was we used to buy at Woolworth’s for fifty cents.

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: May 30, 2014, 12:20 am

Anybody remember when they painted the backs of those Woolworth turtles? Back then it was just colors – today it would be adverts or gang signs.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: May 30, 2014, 1:46 am

I don’t understand the comment from the RSPCA in the linked story that turtles in Chislehurst Pond wouldn’t survive the winter. That Wikipedia map shows turtles up in Michigan’s upper peninsula. It gets a bit colder there than it does in Chislehurst.

Comment from JeffS
Time: May 30, 2014, 3:11 am

Is that an invasive species we’re looking at? Maybe the Brits will develop a fondness for turtle soup…..

Comment from Nina
Time: May 30, 2014, 4:12 am

I’ve got two in my back yard right now!

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 30, 2014, 11:22 am

I should add that the tortoises we have aren’t native. When I were a young cub, the poor bloody things were scoped-up by the million, dumped in crates and shipped over here as pets. Many died and the miserable trade was stopped.

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: May 30, 2014, 12:49 pm

I seem to remember that painting their shells may have been one of the reasons they died; it interferes with some natural process. But I’m too lazy to go look it up and see if recollection is accurate in this case.

By the way, I love the weird hypercorrection in “A number have people have got in touch”; what was the editor thinking of, changing the “of” to “have” in that context?

Comment from Tibby
Time: May 30, 2014, 4:09 pm

That’s a red-eared turtle there – Wiki calls it a tarapin, but trust me we call’em turtles.


Comment from Nina
Time: May 30, 2014, 11:16 pm

Yep, that’s what is in the backyard stock tub.

Comment from jic
Time: June 1, 2014, 1:30 am

“Is that an invasive species we’re looking at?”

The summers in England are usually too short and cool for turtle or tortoise eggs to hatch. Unless the climate gets significantly warmer, there will probably be no feral turtles left in England in 80 years or so.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: June 1, 2014, 5:47 am

You can’t fool me, that’s a squirrel who found a WW I doughboy’s helmet.

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