The Terrapins of Worcestershire County Hall
For many years at Worcestershire County Hall there has been a story of Terrapins living in the ornamental lakes in front of the building. When I started working here it seemed a bit of a farfetched story, but it is true enough and here is a photo I took of them. They have been living here now for well over a decade, there are at least three, possibly more; one colleague claims to have seen six at once, and they obviously find enough food to prosper in what is a shallow man-made lake with little decent habitat or marginal vegetation. In the summer they can often be seen basking out on the brick work, and seem quite acclimatised to the comings and goings of people.
The largest one is probably 14 inches or so across and despite the lakes freezing over completely on various occasions they seem to survive. There is of course the question of whether their prosperity comes at the expense of the general ecology of the lakes; I believe they have a reputation for eating almost anything.
The most likely explanation for their presence is that they were released following the children's TV craze of Mutant Ninja Turtles in the 1990's. Like many reptiles they can be long lived and despite originating in far warmer climes they seem to have adapted to life at County Hall well enough.
Wade Muggleton, Senior Community Greenspace Officer, The Countryside Centre, Wildwood Drive, Worcester, WR5 2LG. 01905 766491.
County Herpetologist Alan Shepherd comments as follows:
They are Trachemys scripta-elegans the Red-eared Slider. The red "ear" markings are not very visible but can be discerned on the larger specimen, which incidentally is a female as males have longer front claws. The ear markings can be variable and there is a yellow variation, which i think was bred up in captivity. Look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-eared_slider for more information.
Fig.1. The Terrapins (Red-eared Sliders) of Worcestershire County Hall ©Wade Muggleton