A hiker spotted an exotic animal in a pond while walking his dog near Ulverston. He took a photo of the little monster and shared it on Facebook. There, Denise Chamberlain immediately recognized that it was an alligator snapping turtle from the USA. “Oh God, I know what you are,” Chamberlain told the Guardian. "I've seen snapping turtles in the wild, but on a much larger scale. They get to about 30 pounds - and they can bite off your finger."
You can only approach such an animal with caution, Chamberlain knew. "These turtles have a natural defense mechanism: when you approach them, they open their mouths." Chamberlain suspected that she couldn't leave the visitor in the pond. "These species are invasive, they're not native, and I knew it was messing up the ecology of the pond."
In general, it is not illegal to own an alligator snapping turtle, but they are demanding and difficult to keep. In addition, the ugly animals are dangerous. Before retrieving it, Chamberlain put on three gloves on top of each other, then fished the small specimen out of the water with a shopping basket. "I wanted to catch them without losing a finger." She used a shopping basket as a landing net. The catch was successful without any problems. The reptile was unable to move quickly due to the low temperatures. "Fortunately, since it was quite cold and the turtle was also cold, it wasn't too difficult to maneuver him into the shopping basket." The turtle just stared at her angrily: "It looked like a little prehistoric dinosaur."
After nurturing the animal at home with raw chicken, she took the reptile to veterinarian Kate Hornby. She estimates that the turtle is around five to six years old: "Due to its size, we couldn't tell whether it was a male or a female." "I suspect someone bought the animal and didn't know what it was, it got too big or they can't afford to feed it." The doctor advises caution: "At this size you could get a nasty bite, but in extreme cases these animals can weigh up to 80 kilograms and then cause a lot of damage." The alligator snapping turtle is also dangerous for the environment. "I'm sure if she had been left there she would have eaten anything that moved in the water."
A name was quickly found: Fluffy. Chamberlain can explain: "I think the name Fluffy is very appropriate - it's a reference to a creature in Harry Potter. She definitely looks like a creature Hagrid would love."
Sources: BBC / “Guardian”