One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

For today’s mystery, I’m asking if you know what kind of turtle this is?

I’ll check back later for your answers!

~~~

We’ve had a few correct guesses, so I decided to pop in and confirm that the turtles are Red-eared Sliders. That red mark along the side of the head is quite distinctive, as is their ability to ‘slide’ into the water when danger approaches.

Red-eared sliders are now a common turtle in ponds even outside their normal range, and are considered invasive. Unfortunately, this is because many have escaped or been let go as pets. They eat both plants and animals in the water, preferring still water of ponds, but also slow-moving streams and rivers. With high numbers and more rugged ability to adapt, the red-eared sliders replace shyer, native turtles and might be one of the reasons frogs are on the decline.

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Turtle Crossing

We had a visitor to the neighborhood yesterday, a Red-eared Slider.

We can tell it’s this species and not an Eastern Painted Turtle because of the red splotch over her ear. No other North American slider has one. She is scared and wouldn’t give us a good look at her head until we retreated to a branch.

Ol ‘ Wally says it’s likely a female, because this is the time of year they leave their ponds and seek a place to lay eggs. Otherwise, aquatic turtles stay put.  Plus, she has medium length nails. In an aquatic turtle this size, the males have very long nails.

We only watched her long enough to make sure she wasn’t headed for our pond. A turtle that size—9 inches!—would clean out that little pond in nothing flat, not only the fish and tadpoles, but also the plants. Turtles don’t move too fast, so we checked back later. She made her way back to a pond safely with people help. Roads are dangerous for turtles since they move so slowly. But a fair number of squirrels don’t make good choices in their crossings either.

Here’s a last look at her, including that identifying red mark over her ear.