WILDERNESS JOURNAL: TURTLE INVASION
We were visiting The Commons, in Calabasas the other day when we stumbled upon a wonderful koi pond! The little pond was teeming with life! It was fun to see that this pond, in a shopping center was home to koi and TONS of red eared slider turtles. The red eared sliders get their name partially because of the red spot behind their ears and because they “slide” very easily off of rocks. . . Pretty creative! Turtles are from the Chenloian Family, which also includes tortoises. What is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise? Turtles are aquatic animals. They live in the water and have webbed feet and a streamlined body which helps them to swim easily. Certain types of turtles rarely leave the water, like sea turtles, while other turtles (like red eared sliders) live in ponds and lakes, and will climb out onto logs or rocks to warm themselves.
These red eared slider turtles are native to areas near the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. But because of their popularity as pets they are spread around the the world! In certain areas the red eared slider has become an invasive species. An invasive species is an animal that is not native or local to a specific area which competes with similar animals that are already living there.
These animals usually survive in many environments, eat a lot and reproduce a lot! With the red eared sliders we saw many of these turtles were previously pets that had been abandoned to “survive in the wild.” However this is not good for the turtle or the environment, and it is often because of released pets or animals accidentally tagging along for a ride on a boat, that causes invasive species. Invasive species can also cause the local animals to either have to relocate or die out, which often alters an entire ecosystem. If you do ever buy a turtle and decide that it is too difficult to take care please before you release it check out local tortoise or turtle rescues where they can be well taken care of and won’t endanger our fragile local ecosystem.
Check out the links below for more information on red eared sliders: