Published: 13:00, 17 April 2017
A 37-year-old who spent his childhood hooked on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles now looks after 1,000 terrapins in his back garden.
Michael Butcher hopes people will support his own brand of Turtle Power by donating to The Turtle Sanctuary, which he set up six years ago.
The Staplehurst resident began taking the terrapins in when he became concerned with people dumping them, and now he hopes to get enough donations to break his organisation out of its shell and expand.
Mr Butcher, of Green Hill, said: “We’re based at our house, so we’re very small and a non-registered charity. I’d love to be able to build a big turtle sanctuary like the ones they have in America, but we need more donations.
“To be a registered charity you have to get £5,000 a year in donations, and we’re lucky to get £40 at the moment.”
Mr Butcher’s back garden is decked out with custom-made tanks, complete with heat lamps, filters, and UVB bulbs. This is unfortunately not how a lot of people keep terrapins – the name given to freshwater turtles.
“I think the majority of people buy them and think they won’t get as big as they do.
“They can grow up to 15 inches, but people think they can just keep them in a fish tank and they’ll be fine.
“Some of them are in a hell of a state when they come in because of how they’ve been kept.
“People should be better educated before they buy them.”
Mr Butcher looks after them with his 62-year-old mother, Denise. The majority of reptile residents arrive from their owners who have been unable to care for them.
“People either want to get rid of them because they’ve got too big, or because they think they smell,” Mr Butcher said. “There’s nowhere else for them to go, only to us, but I just want to look after them, I don’t want to see them killed.”
They are happy to welcome the public to see the turtles at their home and give donations in person. Or donate online.