Abandoned terrapin has terrible time

ELLE HUNT
GENERAL REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 01/09/2012
ter xs
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ

HERO IN A HALF SHELL: Rafael the terrapin had a paralysed leg when he was found in an Owhiro Bay stream.

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An injured terrapin found in Owhiro Bay may lose a leg, but he'll live to fight another day.

A member of the public found the reptile in a stream near Owhiro Bay yesterday and handed it in to the Wellington SPCA in Newtown.

The animal, named Rafael by staff - possibly as a reference to Rafael Nadal or Raphael the ninja turtle - is a red-eared slider, a species of semi-aquatic, freshwater turtle frequently kept as a pet.

They are named for the distinctive patches of red skin around their ears.

Rafael's right rear leg is paralysed, and will likely need to be amputated.

This afternoon veterinary staff X-rayed the animal to better assess its condition.

Wellington SPCA spokesman James Craw said it was the first time staff at the centre had ever carried out such a procedure on a terrapin.

Mr Craw said it was likely that Rafael was an abandoned pet, as the species is native only to the southern states of America and it had "definitely been domesticated".

The poor condition of the reptile's shell suggested it had not been well cared for, and Mr Craw urged people considering a terrapin as a pet to do their research.

"Prospective owners need to know what they're taking on."

Mr Craw said once Rafael's leg had been treated, he would be rehomed with an experienced terrapin owner.

Contact Elle Hunt
General reporter
Email: elle.hunt@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @mlle_elle

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- The Dominion Post

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