Sightings of turtles are on the increase

By Mary Dennehy

SIGHTINGS of turtles along the Dodder are on the increase, creating not only a serious animal welfare issue but a potential threat to the river’s native wildlife.

This picture of a terrapin was captured by a resident around 20 yards upstream of Balrothery Weir in Firhouse, and was forwarded to South Dublin County Council.

Turtle in Dodder

A terrapin spotted 20 yards upstream from the Balrothery Weir. Photo courtesy of Niahm Fitzgerald

According to Rosaleen Dwyer, Heritage Officer with South Dublin County Council, the local authority is aware of turtles along the Dodder – due to people releasing unwanted pets into the water when they become too big.

“Terrapins and turtles do appear in our parks from time to time,” Ms  Dwyer said.

“We’ve mainly had yellow bellied sliders and red eared sliders, which are listed as invasive species.

“This is a huge animal welfare issue.

“These animals are bred for generations to be pets and are not able to look after themselves in the wild.”

According to Ms Dwyer, the Irish climate also makes it very difficult for these shelled creatures to survive – with the species also requiring warm weather to reproduce.

“Due to our climate it is too cold for terrapins to reproduce,” Ms  Dwyer said.

“However, given the summer we have had and the climate getting warmer, there is a potential risk if there are males and females out there.

“These species lay multiple eggs, so we could have a lot in a short space of time.”

She added: “These creatures are herbivores when young but as they mature they eat plants and also eggs, small birds and fish.

“[South Dublin County Council] has spent a lot of time managing mink along the Dodder, which has taken pressure off birds such as the King Fisher and the Wagtail.

“We don’t need another [invasive species].”

She added: “People need to be really conscious of their actions here.

“Releasing unwanted pets like this is a serious animal welfare issue but it could also have consequences for our native wildlife.

“People need to be responsible and talk to the DSPCA if they feel they can’t care for an animal anymore.”

Last September, The Echo reported on a Tallaght resident who rescued a terrapin from Sean Walsh Park.

The resident got in touch with Collie Ennis who, working in the Zoology department at Trinity College, adopted the terrapin – which was called Ninja.

Collie Ellis resize 1

Collie told The Echo at the time: “Some of these dumped pets might survive for a few years but for many it can be a very slow and drawn out death as they are not suited to our cold climate and they can’t source the right food.”

The National Biodiversity Data Centre has listed the invasiveness of terrapins as Medium Impact.

South Dublin County Council has encouraged people to report any sightings of terrapins, and to email details and an image if possible to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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