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Saturday 20 January 2018

Shell-shocked gardai find missing turtle

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

A PET turtle turned himself over to gardai after two weeks on the run.

Officers in Carlow Garda Station were more than surprised to find the little terrapin -- a species of turtle native to coastal swamps -- at the front of the barracks.

Alfie made his escape from his home across the road in Huntington Court but handed himself up a fortnight later.

Garda Elliott Malone spotted the adventurous creature rambling on the lawn outside the station.

The perplexed officer contacted local radio KCLR 96fm to help solve the mystery.

Alfie was then brought to the Arboretum Garden Centre in Leighlinbridge.

Bryan Fitzharris (5), who thought he'd never see the runaway turtle again, was delighted to be reunited with his pet.

Bryan's mother, Niamh, heard the announcement on the radio and the turtle was identified as Alfie.

Meanwhile, another exotic species, most likely a Siberian chipmunk, was pictured crossing a road near Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

Experts at Invasive Species Ireland, the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the National Parks and Wildlife Service were alarmed when they were contacted by a vigilant member of the public who spotted the creature.

Yesterday the National Biodiversity Data Centre said their concern over the presence of the animal was "not unwarranted".

"The Siberian chipmunk, characterised by five longitudinal black stripes along its back, could be another competitor to the red squirrel, which is already suffering because of the introduction of the invasive non-native grey squirrel."

Siberian chipmunks may also have negative impact on ground nesting birds.

Manager of the National Invasive Species Database Collette O'Flynn said that in recent years, there had been a growing concern about the potential problems pets could have on our native species.

"Early detection and reporting of such species in the wild to the Data Centre is imperative if the battle to avert their spread and harm is to be successful," she added.

Irish Independent

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