Exotic animals at home in UK

EXOTIC creatures more often associated with faraway places are increasingly making an appearance in the UK.

Scorpions, aardvarks and turtles have all been found living wild in Britain, according to a report published today.

The Eden Wildlife Report studied official recorded sightings and population numbers for creatures introduced into the country over the past 150 years. The largest population of exotic animals is in south-east England which has become home to between 30,000 and 50,000 ring-necked parakeets.

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The same part of the country is home to around 13,000 yellow-tailed scorpions. They are believed to have been brought to our shores in the 1860s on merchant ships and settled in and around ports. A long-established colony lives in the brickwork of a wall on the dockside in Sheerness.

More obscure animals residing in the UK include Brazilian aardvarks, with around ten believed to be living wild in Cumbria, and snapping turtles, which were first identified in a garden pond in 1993.

There are now believed to be around 20 living in Kent, London, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire.

Adrian Wills, of the Eden Channel, which commissioned the research, said: "It's fascinating to see how Britain has become a haven for these exotic creatures."