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.
Lots of wild animals try to stay hidden from view.
Have you seen one of these fellows lately? If you know what he is, give us a shout in the comments. Be back later to give you an answer.
By the way, this is my 130th nature’s mystery post, a column I –Hickory Squirrel–started back in April 2012!
If you look really close you can see small scales on this animal’s back, making it a reptile. It’s in the lizard family, one called a Broad-headed Skink. It’s one of the largest, growing to a foot long if you include the tail, five and a half inches if the skink has lost his tail–which can happen if something grabs onto it! They eat mainly insects like crickets, beetles, grasshoppers and caterpillars, but will also catch smaller reptiles and rodents with their small teeth. In fact, the genus name, Plestiodon, comes form the Greek words Pleistos meaning most and odontos meaning teeth. ‘Toothy skink’–heh, good name, right?