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A MAN has been arrested at Valencia’s Malvarosa beach after finding an exotic turtle while bathing which he planned to feed to his dogs.

Officers from Valencia’s Policia Local Beach Unit spotted a man coming out of the water with the reptile in his arms on Tuesday.

The 30 centimetre-long Jicotea turtle caught their attention as it is not a common species in local waters.

Officers quizzed the swimmer about the turtle’s origin which he said he had picked up from the shore as food for his pets.

The police told him it was a Jicotea turtle which is classified as an ‘invasive species’ which compromises ecosystems and the viability of native species- meaning that it cannot be kept domestically or sold in Spain.

The man refused to hand it over and started fighting with one of the officers, resulting in him being arrested for assaulting an ‘agent of authority’.

The reptile- aged around 20 years, was taken to the La Granja Wildlife Recovery Centre at El Saler.

The Jicotea turtle is also known as the Florida tortoise and was introduced in the 1980s from the United States and in the following decades it was commonly sold in Spain as a small pet for children.

Once they grew and increased in size, they were often abandoned near beaches, rivers and other wet areas, or directly in garbage containers.

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