An exotic turtle has turned up in the river Maigue near Adare, over 4,000 miles away from its native habitat in the South Eastern United States.
However it is unlikely the Yellow Bellied Slider travelled to Limerick under its own steam, with fisheries experts believing it is more likely that it is a pet who escaped or was disposed of by its owners.
The turtle was found by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) officers while they were working along the river. They described it as being in “good physical condition”.
“It is likely that it was enjoying the current good weather conditions as they can thrive in warm climates,” said a fisheries spokesperson.
Following its rescue, the creature was taken to the Animal Magic Centre near Kilmallock where it joined about 30 other turtles which have been rescued from Irish rivers in recent years.
Since it arrived, it has been spending its days swimming around the pond and sunbathing in the warm sunshine with the other turtles, according to Rosie Campbell of Animal Magic.
However, she warned that the disposal of turtles and other exotic animals was becoming a serious problem.
“At the moment, we have 30 turtles in our pond. At one stage, someone drove by and threw two of them into our drive,” she said.
“We have found homes for a few of them, but it is a constant thing - as soon as we find homes for one, we get more in.”
And she advised people not to buy exotic animals, such as turtles, as pets. “It is a really silly thing to buy as a pet for a child,” she said.
“A lot of people are buying turtles or terrapins for this kids as pets but then of course they grow and the tanks need to be cleaned out and a lot of people don’t like to have to do that so they get dumped.”
Amanda Mooney, director of IFI Limerick, also urged the public to think twice before purchasing exotic species as pets.
“Escapees or deliberate releases into our natural resources can have detrimental consequences to our biodiversity, especially to our fisheries,” she said.