A terrapin dumped in the 1990s as an unwanted pet following the 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' film has amazed wildlife experts after surviving in a UK pond - for 25 YEARS.
Yellow-bellied slider turtles are native to southern America where they can usually be found among the swamps and marshes of the Florida Everglades and west Virginia.
But one of the exotic reptiles was recently spotted by local residents emerging from the waters at a wildlife reserve in Wollaton, in Nottingham.
The turtle was spotted by a dog walker on Sunday (19/7) and the sighting has stunned experts after it managed to survive in UK waters for almost three decades.
Howard Brown, 44, was walking his black Labrador, Bessie with his nine-year-old son, Harvey when they spotted the foot-long creature and managed to picture it on a rock.
Yesterday (Tue) the chef, from Nottingham, said: "Id heard rumours of a turtle over the years, but then all talk stopped and they said it had disappeared.
I walk Bessie round there most days, so I started to take my camera to see if I could spot the turtle.
Then I was there with my son at the weekend and I zoomed in on a rock in the middle of the pond and saw the yellow-bellied slider right there.
I pointed him out, but no-one believed me until they zoomed in with my camera and they said You are joking.
You cant see him unless you know hes there, but now everyones talking about him.
People used to get them as pets in the 1990s because of the TV show, but then as they grow they take up too much space so they dump them.
He looks very happy there, so he may as well stay so long as no-one turns him into soup."
Terrapins became a popular pet in Britain during the original Ninja Turtles craze in the 1980s and 1990s but were often dumped once they grew too big.
Reptile experts believe the same could have happened in this case as judging by the reptile's size it is around 25 years old.
Matt Oldham, who owns Nottingham Reptile Centre in Sherwood, Notts., said: Ive been working with reptiles for 14 years.
"When the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film came out in 2014 there were a lot more people coming in asking for turtles.
The same was definitely true after the 1990 film, as that caused even more excitement.
The problem with turtles, especially the yellow-bellied slider, is that after about three years they get very big and need a lot of attention, so people cant afford to keep them.
You have to clean them out once a week, have a big external filter, and put them in six foot tanks.
So instead of spending all that money people get rid of them.
I think its entirely fair to assume this turtle was dumped there by someone who bought him after seeing the 1990 film, as judging by his size he is around 25-years-old.
"Pet shops don't sell them full size so he must have been bought as a young pet and dumped. It would be highly unlikely that it has escaped or been purchased full size."
Mr Oldham said it was amazing to think the turtle could have survived in UK waters for so long because the climate would usually be too cold for them.
He added:They'll never thrive here because our climate is too cool for them.
Although this type of turtle is from a much warmer climate, they can hibernate if they need to.
But the summer is too short and the winter too long for them to be able to do it properly in the UK, so they would usually only live for five or ten years here.
To live for over 25 years in a Nottingham pond is amazing.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was originally a cartoon show that catapulted to fame in 1990 after the comic-book characters starred in their own movie, which made over #200 million at the box office worldwide.
A reboot of the film directed by Michael Bay was released last year and a sequel is expected in June 2016.
The RSPCA said popular movies push up demand for unusual pets - such as owls bought following the Harry Potter films to "wolf-type" dogs inspired by the Twilight films and Game Of Thrones series.
Yesterday (Tue) senior scientific officer for the RSPCA, Nicola White, said: Many people bought turtles in the late 80s when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were popular.
"This led to a large number of unwanted terrapins being abandoned when they grew too large or were more difficult to look after than expected.
"We are bracing ourselves for a similar trend once again.
"Sadly many owners who buy exotic pets on impulse after seeing a film or TV show dont find out how to care for the animals first.
"When they then realise how much space and care the animal requires they can lose interest, or feel unable to care for them anymore.
"As a result exotic pets are often abandoned, given up to animal rescue centres or released into the wild.
Terrapins are complicated animals to care for and can also carry bacteria such as Salmonella.
"We would discourage anyone from buying any pet on a whim and strongly urge people to think carefully first before buying an exotic pet.
"Releasing unwanted exotic pets into the wild is cruel and illegal.
"Most exotic pets are unlikely to be able to survive in the wild in Britain and non-native species could pose a serious threat to our native wildlife."
It is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to release, or to allow to escape, any species that are not normally native to the UK.