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Special sanctuaries may soon be set up for dumped pet terrapins, which, with their powerful bite, are posing problems for Britain's native wildlife.

A country-wide survey is under way to collect information about the apparently increasing number and distribution of the abandoned water tortoises. Small terrapins have long been favourite pets but interest in them was hugely boosted during the craze for Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles back in the early 1990s. Environmentalists are now exploring ways of humanely capturing and caring for reptiles whose disenchanted former owners have illegally released them into the wild.