A terrapin had to be put down after it was found in a ‘poorly state’ after having been dumped in a box in McDonalds.
A man was seen carrying a box into the fast food restaurant in Brighton Marina Leisure Centre at around 1pm on Wednesday (November 30) and leaving it at a table at the back before walking out.
The box, a two-litre ice cream container, was then found with one yellow-bellied terrapin and one musk turtle inside, together with just a wet t-shirt for bedding and a piece of lettuce to eat.
Sadly, the terrapin was in such a poorly state that he had to be put to sleep on vet advice to prevent further suffering. The musk turtle, now named Ronald after where he was found, is being treated by a vet. It is hoped a specialist home can be found for him when he is well enough.
RSPCA inspector Liz Wheeler said: “I can’t imagine what went through someone’s mind to walk into McDonalds and think - ‘this is a good place to leave two of my pets.’
“It is not just that these animals were dumped which upsets me, but they had clearly not been given proper care.
“The poor terrapin had advanced stages of what the vet thinks was metabolic bone disease. He was extremely skinny, covered in algae, his eyes were closed and puffy and his shell, which should have been hard, was as soft as putty.
“He was nearly dead when he was found and there was nothing which could be done to save him. He had a short life and I imagine was miserable for most of it.
“Ronald the turtle is in a lot better shape but still had a soft shell and clearly has not been looked after properly.
“We urge anyone with any information about who may have dumped them in this way to call us on 0300 123 8018. We would also be extremely keen to hear from anyone with specialist knowledge and experience of musk turtles who might be able to offer Ronald a home.”
The RSPCA is increasingly concerned about welfare issues concerning reptiles kept as exotic pets.
Ros Clubb, senior scientific manager for the RSPCA, said: “We are urging people to do their research before taking on any pet.
“Reptiles can be appealing to have as a pet but they also require a lot of work and specialist knowledge which people need to make sure they have before taking on their care.”
Red-eared/yellow-bellied terrapins or ‘sliders’ are considered ‘invasive alien species’ under a new EU regulation, and so there are now restrictions on the sale, breeding, keeping and transportation of these terrapins.
For more information about how to care for terrapins, and details of regulations mentioned above, please visit: http://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/other/terrapin
If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 now by texting HELP to 78866 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).