A Swadlincote dad was stunned when he came face to face with a large terrapin which is living in the waters at Midway Ponds.

Jon Mcewan, 37, enjoys taking his three-year-old son, Macauley and his half-brother, Bradley, six, to the ponds to feed the ducks, which they have done for a number of years.

Production team worker Mr Mcewan, who works at KP Snacks, in Ashby, had heard form a neighbour that there was a terrapin living in the ponds for the past two years. However, as he had not seen it before, he thought the tale was just a tall story, but had always kept an eye out for the creature - just in case the tale was true.

"Then, on a trip to the ponds with the children he saw the creature - and even managed to snap these pictures of it perched on the bank. He has told how he couldn't believe his eyes at first because he thought the tales were not true.

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He said: "We were at the ponds, and I could see something move on the island in the middle of the bottom pond. I had to strain my eyes to see, but I could tell it was the terrapin. I showed the boys, and Macauley even asked if I could pick him up so that he could get a better view of it."

Now the family have seen the terrapin several times on their trips to the pond, but this week was the first time they had seen it so close to the grassland area near to the water.

Jon Mcewan has spotted a terrapin hiding out at Midway ponds

He said: "It's always been on the island, and then to see it so close was really weird. It then ran off when it saw us, but it's nice that it is coming closer. I would guess that it is most likely looking for food."

Mr Mcewan has said that the children really enjoy trying to spot the terrapin, and often get quite excited when it makes an appearance at the pond.

Trevor Taylor, biodiversity planning officer from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said: "While it is not a common thing to come across terrapins in the wild in Derbyshire, we do get occasional records of sightings in the wild, particularly in urban parks.

"There are thought to be around 4,000 terrapins in the wild in the UK. It is often when they grow to a large size that people find difficulty in continuing to look after them at home and decide to release them into the wild.

"Apart from being illegal to release them into the wild, it is also cruel to the terrapins which may struggle to survive the British weather and in cool summers would fail to put on sufficient reserves to survive through hibernation.

"They also cause damage to our native eco-systems as they may spread disease to our native amphibians as well as eating frogs, newts, fish and young birds. They also interfere with the nests of waterfowl. So on the whole it is a bad thing to release terrapins into the wild.

"There are specific terrapin rescue centres, largely in the south of England where the problem is more pronounced, but they are often full with no further capacity to accommodate any more animals. They are also very difficult to catch and remove from the wild."

What are terrapins?

There is often a lot of confusion around terrapins, turtles and tortoises, and many people will struggle to tell the difference between the three. In the wild, terrapins can usually be found in stagnant water, such as ponds and streams.

Typically, terrapins have flat shells to aid them with swimming, but do they do not have flippers like turtles do.

Most species of terrapin will usually grow to around six inches long, making them an ideal pet for reptile-lovers. However, there are some giant species of terrapin, such as the 'snapper', which is capable of growing to over 24 inches long and can even bite off a human finger.

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