Turtle sanctuary shells out for floating sunbed

A group of rescued turtles have been given their own floating sunbed to help combat the wintry weather.

The sunbed raft, which is made of sticks tied together with rope, has a heat lamp suspended above it which provides the turtles with an area where they can bask during the day and at night.

The turtles, which live at Bristol's Blue Reef Aquarium, are either rescued or have been donated by members of the public after outgrowing their original homes.

"Although temperatures within the Amazonian area remain high all year round, the turtles and terrapins love basking under the heat lamp to warm themselves up before going back into the water," said Blue Reef's Becs Smith.

"The raft took a little bit of building but we're pleased with how it has turned out and it's proved to be extremely popular with the turtles.

"It's unclear whether there's any sort of pecking order involved but they all end up getting a turn – even if it does entail a little bit of gentle barging and climbing over others to get the prime spot."

The turtles share their Amazonian pool with a variety of fish species including giant pacu, catfish and arrowana – all of which are also either rescued or have been donated. "Unfortunately the problem with unwanted reptiles and exotic freshwater fish species is literally a growing one," Ms Smith said.

"People buy these cute little creatures and either don't realise or fail to take into account the fact that they will keep getting bigger.

"Many of the country's lakes have become dumping grounds for terrapins and that is posing a potential threat to native species of wildlife which simply can't cope with sharing their habitat with these aggressive invaders.

"Unfortunately we are unable to rehome any more unwanted terrapins or turtles at this stage although we still receive a number of requests each week."