Turtles, Pacific Northwest
Red Eared Slider Turtles look similar to the painted turtle. The top shell of the red eared turtle is higher domed than that of the western painted turtle and is weakly keeled. This turtle has a red ear mark located just behind the eye.
The head, neck, and legs are greenish with yellowish stripes. The olive brown top shell usually has yellow and black stripes. The bottom shell is yellow.
Males are usually smaller than females but have longer claws on the forefeet used to hold the female when mating. The shells of older specimens, especially males, may become very dark. The introduced red eared turtle occurs with the western painted turtle in many areas of its range and may be confused with this species.
The red eared turtle is an invasive species on Vancouver Island and could spell trouble for our painted turtle. Most have been released into the wild from people who purchased them as pets
The red eared turtles are turning up in ponds and lakes across the coast. They are invasive and considered among the word’s 100 most invasive species.
They feed mainly on plants and small animals, such as crickets, fish, crayfish, snails, tadpoles, worms, aquatic insects, and aquatic plants.
The breeding season lasts from late spring to early summer. Courtship and mating activities for red eared turtles usually occur between March and July, and take place underwater. Females nest on land and prefer soft, sandy soil with good exposure to the sun for their nest site. Nests are dug with the turtle’s hind feet, usually within 150 to 200 meters of water. The females will lay up to 30 eggs.