Twenty-three Brighton terrapins have been daubed with the numbers of the England squad by World Cup-crazy Sea Life Centre staff. 

Each terrapin also has an accompanying squad photo with the player’s face replaced by that of his corresponding reptile.

Curator Carey Duckhouse said: “We needed to number all 48 of our rescued terrapins anyway, so we could keep track of each one’s veterinary records.

“So as England’s World Cup adventure could be over in a matter of days (although we hope it won’t be of course) we decided to get the first 23 done now and name them after the squad members.

“Visiting soccer fans should have great fun trying to find their favourite player’s terrapin twin in a tank that is literally teeming with them."

Staff were even tempted to re-name some of the players like Phil Jagishellka, Danny Shellbeck and Danishell Sturridge, but decided that might be taking things too far.

“We’re all hoping for positive results against Uruguay and Costa Rica and that the popularity of this novel tribute increases the further England go in the competition,” said Carey.

All unwanted or abandoned pets, the terrapins in a spectacular display within the Centre’s new Rainforest Adventure attraction, are a sobering illustration of the harm that can be wrought by a craze!

Millions of terrapins and freshwater turtles were purchased as pets after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became worldwide children’s favourites via comic books, TV series and films.

Carey said: “Sadly very few of the people who bought them appreciate how big they can grow or how much care they need and many ended up being released into ponds and streams.”

Two of those in the new display were found in a box dumped at the centre’s main entrance at Christmas two years ago.

Luckily, in the UK, the climate is not warm enough for released terrapins to breed successfully, but in the short time they do survive they can wreak havoc among native freshwater species.

The terrapins share the all new Rainforest Adventure with piranhas, poison dart frogs and a nine-foot long anaconda, among others.