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Red-Eared Sliders Invade Connecticut

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Many believe turtles to be slow creatures. But they can also be quite pushy. Such is the case with the red-eared slider , a popular pet turtle that has become an invasive species in New Canaan and elsewhere in the Northeast.

Keith Marshall, a director of education at the New Canaan Nature Center , said red-eared sliders are famous for the red stripes behind their eyes. And though they may not be harmful to humans, they can make life difficult for weaker turtles.

“They’re cute when they’re little, but they can get as big as a sauce pan, about eight to 12 inches,” Marshall said. “They can get quite large.”

Once they get too big, families tend to release them near ponds, which is a problem for smaller turtles such as the painted turtle , known for the yellow coloring on its face.

Red-eared sliders “are more aggressive, stronger and larger than painted turtles,” Marshall said. “They can push painted turtles. If there’s only one (in a pond) they’re OK. But if you get more, they can take over an area.”

Though red-eared sliders were previously unseen in the wild north of Virginia, they can now be found in ponds and waterways in New Canaan and elsewhere in Connecticut. The Nature Center houses two of them, Jeffrey and Humphrey, and they usually get smiles and curious looks from young boys and girls.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection , in recognizing 2011 as “The Year of the Turtle,” has warned residents about how aggressive red-eared sliders are in challenging native turtles for habitat and food. It is illegal for turtle owners to release their pets into the wild.

For more information about red-eared sliders and other turtles, visit the DEEP’s website.

Do you own a red-eared slider or any other pet turtle? Let us know by leaving a comment below. You can also visit our Facebook page. Check back with The Daily New Canaan for more invasive species.

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