Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - June 28, 2007)
Red-eared slider enjoys garden visit
A dinosaur visited our garden today. He hid under the begonia leaves while enjoying
the cool, damp ground near the water garden. He was a crusty old fellow with a bit
of an attitude, but considering hes from a family that has been on this earth
for more than 60 million years, we gave him his place of honor without
|Photo by Karen Mitchell Tremmel
|A dinosaur enjoys a quiet
moment in the garden.
I assumed since the lake is at least a couple of hundred feet away and only
accessible over a concrete wall that this old fellow was a land turtle/tortoise. We
laid out the photos and compared them to our Florida guide books, but this turtle
was nowhere to be found. After several e-mails and a couple of phone calls to our
local, most informative, Pinellas County Extension office, we were surprised that
our visitor was a red-eared slider turtle.
The red-eared slider is a beautiful small green, fresh water turtle with reddish
stripes behind their eyes, commonly sold in pet stores. Our visitor was very dark
with little color and his markings were well worn. He was probably once a pet that
someone grew tired of then was released into the wild to fend for himself.
Turtle Pet Trade sites recommend: Turtles are not good pets for young children.
They can bite and in some cases can cause salmonella poisoning. Turtles are meant
as pets for responsible adults. Red-eared sliders are found throughout the United
States east of the Rockies, but are not native to Florida.
Turtles, like parrots live a long time. If youre considering a turtle as a
pet take into account: A well cared for turtle may have an average life expectancy
of about 30 years, for example the red-eared slider. Before you purchase a turtle
ask yourself if you have the resources and time to care for this animal long term.
If you are still considering purchasing a turtle heres some advice from Shell
Shock on the reality of keeping turtles as pets.
If not taken care of properly, turtles stink!
Turtles have a habit of eating their own stool. This behavior seems
disgusting, but is quite natural for turtles.
Turtles shed skin ... and lots of it. They also shed scales off their
shells. This loose skin and scales has a habit of clogging up your filter, be
prepared to clean your filter at least once a week, maybe even twice, depending on
Turtles are messy eaters. If you feed them live food be prepared for the
occasional body part floating around.
They bite and it hurts. Larger turtles can break skin. Remember to be
careful when handling your turtles and be especially careful if someone unfamiliar
with turtles is caring or handling them.
The red-eared slider is a semi-aquatic turtle (terrapin) that naturally resides in
areas with a calm, fresh and warm water source; ponds, lakes, marshes, creeks and
streams. Turtles being reptiles have a relatively waterproof skin composed of
scales, which retains most of their body moisture. Because of these
characteristics, reptiles have been able to survive in harsh conditions for
millions of years. They are present day dinosaurs.
Red-eared sliders are avid swimmers, feeding only in water, and are religious
baskers. All of the sliders are omnivores, eating both animal protein and
vegetable/plant matter. They are deceptively fast and excellent swimmers.
Wild red-eared slider females stay close to water sources unless she is in search
of a new source or has a need to nest and lay eggs. When the males are between 2
and 4 years old they are sexually mature. Females reach maturity later, between 5
and 7 years, and will then be over 5-inches in length; in captivity, females may
reach maturity at about 3 1/2 years. Their natural habitat is usually quiet with a
basking area, such as a large flat rock or a log, receiving a good deal of
Turtles are elusive creatures that most of us know little about and yet they have
a way of capturing our imaginations. They are creatures of folly in childrens
books and the symbol of persistence in the corporate world. Turtles are the oldest
living group of reptiles, dating back to the time of the earliest dinosaurs.
Turtles represent the relics of our past, the barometers of our future, the
principles of our present, and respect ... back to nature.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.