Staff looking after the terrapin enclosure at the popular Lincolnshire Wildlife Park near Boston were left scratching heads when an unexpected new resident appeared in the pond.
The four-inch diamondback terrapin was found a little shell-shocked after its former owner snuck him in and released him into the enclosure, which houses much larger species of terrapin.
He stood out a mile in the naturalistic pond, which is home to three Trachemys species, carefully hand selected to be well equipped and healthy in the pond.
The abandoned little terrapin would have been at risk of injury or possible drowning had he not been rescued by the staff at the park.
The National Turtle Sanctuary at the park now houses over 200 terrapins, giving forever home to animals that have been abandoned, rescued, or whose owners could no longer care for them, since 2020.
Andy Ferguson, from the charity, said the keepers removed the terrapin from the enclosure and found he had previously had a debilitating eye condition the the team vets were reviewing.
He said: “Our teams’ quick actions have saved this little guy’s future from possible injury or even possible drowning within the enclosure. We have moved him to an individual quarantine tank for observations whilst we await veterinarian instruction for treatment for his eyes.
“Pet terrapins aren’t accustomed to living in natural ponds, outside and with other species. By placing the animal into this pond the owner has endangers its life – rather than what we suspect was the intention – giving it a better one.
“We provide forever homes for thousands of animals at the sanctuary and we are here to help the animals, not to judge the owners, so if you are considering rehoming, reach out to us.”