Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans are being urged not to buy their own real-life hero in a half-shell.
With the Hollywood blockbuster set to hit cinema screens tomorrow, wildlife experts have urged parents not to be tempted to buy terrapins and turtles as pets for their children.
The previous turtles craze 25 years ago led to hundreds of thousands of baby terrapins being bought as pets. But while the infant terrapins measure just a couple of inches in size, the adults grow to the size of a dinner plate and are soon too big for domestic tanks.
The animals were often released into the wild by worried mums and dads or simply flushed down the toilet.
And successive generations of the creatures have been causing problems for native pond and river life ever since.
A spokeswoman for Blackpool Zoo said: “Some turtles would be perfectly fine being released and some would not, it all depends on where they are put. However, the problem is that it’s cruel to them.
“They should never just be dumped and if anybody is struggling to take care of their turtle they should contact an animal rescue organisation.”
Mark Robinson, national ecologist for the Lancashire Canal and River Trust said: “Like any baby animal, young matchbox-sized terrapins are pretty cute but people need to understand what they’re taking on when they buy them as pets.
“They can be pretty big, pretty grumpy and pretty smelly which means that sadly some people just fall out of love with them.
“Terrapins can live for up to 40 years and we’re still dealing with the effects of the last turtle power craze with hungry terrapins munching their way through our native wildlife including dragonfly and damselfly larvae, small fish, frogspawn and even ducklings.”