On a 40F day, a single turtle is observed on the edge of the Sylvan Water. What’s this, though? Not a Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), by far the most common turtle across the city. I once counted 70 basking along the Lullwater in Prospect Park.

This is a Yellow-bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta scripta). As their binomials, which are actually trinomials, suggest, they’re the same species. Both sliders are native to the southeast. The pet trade has spread them all over.

Please don’t get a turtle for a pet. It’s a wild animal. It shouldn’t be captive. I don’t think it matters that they’re bred for the trade: nobody should be making a profit off of them. Also, those shitballs on the sidewalk who sell them when they’re under 4″ are illegal animal traders, so report them.

So many of these impulse buys are then disposed of, if the turtles are lucky, in local fresh water far from their native region by irresponsible fools. It’s a great way to spread disease and screws the turtles who are supposed to be here. What the fuck is wrong with people who do this kind of thing?

3 Responses to “Yellowbelly”

  1. 1 alaspooryorick March 22, 2018 at 11:28 am

    who can explain the dark side of human beings? our ignorance, greed, cruelty. the annihilation of millions, the inability to understand that there are consequences to our actions. “A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” to reference Winston Churchill.

    ps: 1968 poster of the Mai Lai Massacre?

    Q: And Babies?
    A: And Babies.

    • 2 mthew March 22, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      We just passed the 50th anniversary of that horrible event. So few soldiers were willing or able to challenge their commanders, but one noted that there was a My Lai every month between 1967-68.

  2. 3 jesse.anne.o March 26, 2018 at 12:44 am

    I think people buy them off the street, believing the shop sales people that they won’t grow that much and get overwhelmed. Most people don’t even put them in tanks with heaters and a filter – just bowls. And then I think they see the very same turtles living outside and think – oh, you can live there? You’re too big for me now. Great!

    I don’t think it’s malice — but just a total lack of awareness as to our natural environment and these animals’ needs. Are people centered on their own needs – yes. But I think the “right” thing in this case is hard — to not buy them and not end up with them to begin with or to find them proper placement.

    I made this mistake once. I bought my brother a tiny turtle, which he then barely took care of. I ended up taking the turtle and setting her up correctly, only to have her grow an enormous size. I let her out every day and I kept upgrading her tank (which I put on casters so I could wheel it into my bathroom because I had to clean it once a week). She bit through the glass heater twice and clogged a Fluval filter with her carapice sheds. I was young and it was not sustainable. I called wildlife rehabbers and zoos and no one wanted her — knowing what I knew later, not surprising. I eventually found a place for her but I was really between a rock and a hard place for a while and not really able to care for her properly.

    I wish there was better enforcement of their sale as I think that’s where it really begins. Selling an inappropriate animal with inappropriate information and inappropriate expectations.

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