THIS little turtle was found in the river just behind Williton station on Friday and taken to the Whitelodge veterinary surgery who in turn passed it on to Tropiquaria.

In conjunction with the aquarium staff and a visiting zoo vet Tropiquaria director Chris Moiser identified it as an immature male False Map Turtle.

Mr Moiser said: “The problem is that there are a lot of very similar turtles from North America, and when, a few years ago, the government banned the importation of the red-eared terrapins for the pet trade the exporters in America just switched to different species.

"To make matters worse some of these can hybridise as well. This means the chance of identifying them can be further complicated."

Mr Moiser said that judging from the state of the animals shell it could have been living wild for some time, although it is quite tame and does not appear to object to being handled.

"It is, quite rightly, an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to deliberately release these animals here, because they could eventually establish here if there were sufficient released and a series of mild winters," he added.

"The release of a similar species has led to them being listed on the European Invasive Species list which ultimately lead to them disappearing entirely from all EU member states as possession and transfer becomes illegal."

If you did lose this animal accidentally though no offence is committed and Tropiquaria would be more than happy to return it.

Tropiquaria is currently open daily from 10.30am until 5.00pm and can be contacted on 01984 640688.