Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Released Pet Turtles Living in Stanley Park

Red-Eared Slider Turtles are native to the southern United States, so what are they doing in a pond in Canada?  On a recent trip to Vancouver, we saw several of these turtles swimming and resting on rocks and logs in Vancouver's Stanley Park.  Although they looked quite at home in the Lost Lagoon, they did not belong there.

Red-eared sliders got their name because of the red marking behind their eyes (which can also  be yellow), and the fact that when scared they just “slide” off the rock or log and disappear into the water.

When we were at the Lost Lagoon we saw several, if we had a better camera we could have taken a picture of at several turtles piled up on a log together, but as it happened we were still able to get a few pictures of the turtles closer up. As cold blooded animals, reptiles need to rest in the sun to get warm and to digest their food.

Red-eared slider turtles need water to eat, and are omnivores, often eating more meat as youngsters, and more plant matter as adults.

Red-eared slider turtles are sometimes kept as pets, but it is illegal to catch one in the park and take it home, as it is also against the law to release an unwanted pet turtle into the park. They are considered an invasive species and should never be released anywhere into the wild.  Again these turtles are not native to the area, or Canada in general, so the only reason they are in the Lost Lagoon in Vancouver's Stanley Park is because at one point they would have been introduced, either by pet owners who discarded unwanted animals in the park, or having somehow escaped from captivity.

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Female red-eared slider turtles grow slightly larger than males, reaching just over one foot in length (30 cm). They can live up to 30 years, a major consideration for anyone thinking of getting one as a pet.

Although often seen for sale it is illegal in the United States to sell a turtle with a shell under 4 inches in length.  If you see somebody with turtles of this size for sale please report them, as most will not survive and we should try to stop people from putting the lives of animals at risk just to make a few dollars.

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