Monday, 7 October 2013

October 1st Green Drinks - Exotic Pets

This month the IWT Dublin Branch heard Kayleigh Keegan, founder of Kayleigh's Sanctuary for Exotic Pets, talk about the weird pet fads created by cartoon classics, and the disastrous environmental effects that follow.

A lot of fads for exotic pets start from films. A love for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films brought a mania for terrapins, and  the Harry Potter films created an urge for owls. But what happens when the films end? Buyer beware: Michelangelo will live for 40 years, Hedwig will not nip you affectionately, and Babe is listed as one of the worst invasive species in the world.

The most common exotic animal to be sold is the terrapin. So many are being bought and then dumped that populations have become established in many places, like Dublin's canals and St. Anne's Park in Raheny. Terrapins are tough animals and can hibernate in cold weather, so many are able to survive for years. More worrying still, if we have a hot enough summer, they could breed successfully in Ireland. There are unconfirmed reports of breeding populations, and if Irish summers become hotter due to global warming it is only a matter of time. Terrapins feed on fish, small frogs, newts and ducklings, so their impact on local wildlife could be devastating. Another successful invasive species is the last thing we need!

 Kayleigh explained how so many people buy terrapins, because many pet store are less than honest in what they tell people. The favourite ploy is to say that the cute baby terrapin will never grow any bigger, and that all it needs is a tiny little plastic 'pond' to survive. In fact the terrapin will grow to the size of a dinner plate, will live for decades and needs a specialist tank with a heat lamp, a UV lamp and a dry land area for sunning itself. Oh and it also needs proper food, clean water changed regularly, etc. The result is that a lot of people realise that terrapins are a much bigger commitment than they had realised and end up dumping them in a local pond or river, where most will die.  Fortunately there are sanctuaries in Ireland that take in unwanted terrapins and Kayleigh is happy to provide details if the sanctuary is contacted.

To sum up: Next year's release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could become the ecological crisis of the decade.

I may be cute but I need lots of long term care!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

12 October - Royal Canal Day Clean up

The Dublin Branch of IWT helped out on October 12th, Royal Canal Day when there was a massive-scale clean-up along the length of the Royal Canal from the city centre all the way out to Blanchardstown – a distance of 10km! Dublin Branch members met at 9:45am at Broombridge railway station to begin the clean up which will took about two hours. In total we gathered seven large plastic sacks full of rubbish, plus several large pieces of wood, plastic, and of course a large trolley! The event was very well organised by the Dublin City North Volunteer Centre who supplied us with gloves, plastic sacks and litter pickers. They even had the Civil Defence out on boats along the canal to pick up that hard-to-reach rubbish out in the water.

Afterwards, we all headed to the Brian Boru pub in Phibsboro for some welcome tea, coffee and finger food where we were entertained by a local choir. The Dublin Branch also had a stand there where €46 worth of merchantise was sold, a new member was signed on, and the badger petition received about twnety signatures.

In the afternoon there was a Family Friendly Walk with Botanist Doogue, a Walking Tour with historian Pat Liddy and a Social Cycle along the Canal w/ Dublin Cycling Campaign.

Lastly it would be wrong to forget to mention that all who took part in the clean up got goodie bags, with a cool Irish Waterways water bottle, a Mars bar and lots of interesting info - including about the IWT!

Niall & Roisin with furry helper

Barbara and Roisin beside our trolley packed with rubbish bags

Kate and Sarah at the Dublin Branch stand