Families nationwide are getting excited about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. If your kids are asking for a Michelangelo or Donatello of their own, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.
The most commonly sold turtles in the U.S. are red-eared sliders, an invasive species in the Pacific Region and other parts of the U.S. They are illegal to own in Idaho, Hawaii, and Oregon.
The red-eared slider, also known as the red-eared terrapin, is a semiaquatic turtle belonging to the family Emydidae. They get their name from the small red dash around their ears. The “slider” part of their name comes from their ability to slide off rocks and logs and into the water quickly.
As with other turtles, tortoises, and box turtles, individuals that survive their first year or two can be expected to live generally around 30 years. Understand that adopting a turtle as a pet is a life-long commitment.
Turtles can also carry salmonella, a hazard to immune systems. Before taking home a pet turtle, please consider the hazards and responsibilities of pet turtle ownership.
If you choose to welcome a turtle into your home, remember, Don’t Let It Loose! It’s bad for your pets and bad for the environment.
These turtles damage aquatic ecosystems and compete with our native turtles, like the Western painted turtle and Western pond turtle.
Check out the alternatives to pet release: http://bit.ly/dontletitloose.
For further inquiries check out American Tortoise Rescue.
Invasive Species Resources
If you are interested in learning more about invasive species, the following online resources are a great start.
- Invasive Species Lessons Plan – Adaptable for students in grades 3-12, students will explore the effects of invasive species.
- Don’t Let it Loose – Come along on a virtual field trip to learn more about invasive species in South Florida
- Invasive Species – Video podcasts from Explore Biodiversity
- Ultimate Invader – Students learn about invasive species and in this activity design the ultimate invader
Turtle Lesson Plans & Resources
If you are interested in learning more about turtles, I’ve gathered a few online resources to help you begin your quest.
- Sea Turtle Conservancy – Find facts about various types of sea turtles. Track sea turtle activity. Discover ways people are helping endangered species of turtles.
- Share The Beach – This organization aides in the conservation and protection of nesting sea turtles on the beaches of Alabama. Great info about sea turtles. Tracking information. The site, also, includes information on how you can help in the the conservation of sea turtles.
- Sea World – Sea turtle information on the Sea World site.
- Lesson Plans – Sea Turtle lesson plans for grades 6-12 from
- San Diego Zoo – Activities for grades 6-9 to learn about biodiversity, saving energy, and ecological footprint. This link defines the difference between turtle, tortoise and terrapin.