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Snapping Turtle
Western Pond Turtle
 
 

NON-NATIVE TURTLES

Don’t mistake non-native turtles for natives!

The snapping turtle and the red-eared slider are important variables in the survival and health of their native ecosystems. Unfortunately, in Oregon, they are transmitting disease to our native turtles as well as out-competing them for basking sites and food.

SNAPPING TURTLE

- Chelydra serpentina -

Photo courtesy MJ Baker/Wikimedia Commons

:: Description

  • Oval shell widens toward the back where it is strongly serrated
  • Shell color varies from tan/brown to olive to almost black
  • Bottom shell (plastron) yellowish, small and cross shaped
  • Top of tail has a series of large triangular plates
  • Adult shell length about 8-14 inches long and weighs 10-35 lbs

:: Habitat

  • Mainly aquatic
  • Inhabits ponds, lakes, reservoirs, swamps, streams and rivers
  • In coast areas they are known to inhabit saltwater marshes

::Current distribution

  • Native distribution includes the Rockies east to the Atlantic Ocean and from southern Canada to Mexico
  • Non-native distribution includes the Rockies west to the Pacific Ocean

:: Feeding

  • Consume fish, snails, worms, ducks, small mammals and other turtles
  • Consume a variety of vegetation

::Ecology

  • Active at dusk, night and dawn
  • Males are territorial and will fight each other
  • Aggressive only when threatened on land
  • Sometimes basks at the water surface
  • Basking in the sun is an important behavior and is crucial for thermal regulation, digestion and other life requirements

:: Nesting

  • Females dig nests in spring to early summer in open fields, gravel beds, pond and lake margins and beaches
  • Deposits about 20-30 eggs in the nest
  • Lays ping-pong ball shaped eggs about 1 inch in diameter

:: Impact

  • Prey on native turtles
  • Compete with native turtles for food, basking and nesting sites, and covering habitat
  • Introduce parasites and diseases that wild populations have no immunity for




RED-EARED SLIDER

- Trachemys scripta elegans -

Photo courtesy Trisha M Shears/Wikimedia Commons

:: Description

  • Greenish grey head with a bright red patch just behind each eye
  • Top shell dark colored with a black and yellow line pattern
  • Bottom shell yellow and smooth
  • Yellow stripes along neck and legS

:: Habitat

  • Lives in areas with a calm, warm water source, with lots of aquatic vegetation
  • Found in ponds, lakes, creeks, marshes and streams
  • Thrives in warm climates, especially the southern United States

::Current distribution

  • Native populations are found around the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico
  • Due to their popularity as a pet, they have been introduced throughout the United States and the world

:: Feeding

  • Young turtles feed on insects and small fish
  • Adults feed mainly on aquatic plants

::Ecology

  • Requires logs and rocks to bask on
  • Does not stray too far from a water source unless searching for a new one
  • Average lifespan about 20 years in the wild and 40 years in captivity

:: Nesting

  • Males reach sexual maturity around 4 inches in shell length
  • Females reach sexual maturity around 5 inches in shell length
  • Females nest on land

:: Impact

  • Red-eared sliders use nesting sites similar to native turtles. Since they lay their eggs a month earlier than native turtles, they attract predators to nesting sites
  • Compete with native turtles for food, basking and nesting sites, and covering habitat
  • Introduce parasites and diseases that wild populations have no immunity for





 
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The Lower Willamette Turtle Conservation Project was formed to share expertise among various organizations and agencies involved in turtle conservation and to promote appreciation and conservation of turtles by all Oregonians.
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