Terrapins in Crystal Palace Park

The more I think about what I saw today, the stranger it seems.

Like any other Sunday, I took a walk through the park. The sun was shining, the herons were fishing, ducks splashing, pigeons pigeoning, terrapins sunbathing… TERRAPINS SUNBATHING? What the France is going on? I counted not one, not two, but eight very large terrapins sunning themselves on a log in the middle of the lake. At first I thought they were rocks and I completely ignored them as I was trying to get a decent shot of a cormorant. Then, one of the rocks moved and stuck its neck out.

I sprinted to the other side of the lake to get a better look at them but seemed to be further away still. There was nothing for it. I hopped the fence, crossed the dam like a circus performer in training, climbed on to ‘Dinosaur Island’ and made my way to the water’s edge. Unfortunately, as I approached the edge I stepped in a stinging nettle bush and on a stick that snapped, sending the nearby heron into a panic. The panic began to spread and before I could get my camera ready seven of the terrapins had swan dived into the lake.

Perhaps the remaining terrapin was deaf, or perhaps he just thought he could take me if the situation escalated. I took a few photographs of this brave terrapin, then bashfully made my way back across the dam and back to the allocated path.

It wasn’t until I got home that I started to wonder how these turtles came to be in the lake. I have spent many hours there and would certainly have seen them before if they were residents. These terrapins must be new arrivals. One or two unwanted pets maybe… but eight very large unwanted pets? Who put these magnificently overgrown chelonians here? What does the future have in store for these modern day dinosaurs?



2 thoughts on “Terrapins in Crystal Palace Park

  1. interesting that you are still can see that terrapins in wild. Unlike in our place that terrapins – we have two species of terrapins in Indonesia, Painted Terrapin (Batagur borneoensis) and South River Terrapin (Batagur afinis affinis) and both are critically endangered – facing threats from eggs poaching. Even, Batagur affinis affinis may be functionally extinct in the wild.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Poor things. It is indeed worrying when a species nearly as old as the dinosaurs, that has survived through many changes, is now under threat because of us.


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