Revealed: Rare creature ‘the size of a dustbin lid’ that has made Horsham its home
It may not be the Loch Ness Monster but Horsham has its own creature from the deep.
A rare snapping turtle - normally found in North America - has made itself at home in the lake at Southwater Country Park.
And one eye witness has described it as being ‘as big as a dustbin lid.’
The common snapping turtle is thought to have been there for years but has only rarely been sighted.
But Horsham District Council, which owns the park, has confirmed the snapping turtle is living in the lake.
A spokeswoman said: “The council is aware that there is a snapping turtle in the lake at Southwater Country Park, the last actual sighting being a couple of years ago.
“There is plenty of foodstuff available in the lake for it to eat but it appears to be very shy, so there are not many opportunities for visitors to see it. “There are no known incidents of the turtle coming into contact with visitors or their dogs.”
The common snapping turtle - Chelydra serpentina - is noted for its combative nature when out of the water.
It has powerful beak-like jaws and a highly mobile head and neck. It likes to hide underwater in sediment and can live up to 100 years.
It is very rare for one to be found in the UK and there has been much speculation in Southwater over whether the turtle actually existed in the lake.
But local people have reported seeing the turtle in the water and on the lakeside jetty.
Two years ago, a snapping turtle was discovered in a lake in Worthing.
Workers removing silt from Brooklands Lake in the town were startled to discover the fully-grown creature.