PLEASE DO NOT RELEASE RED-EARED SLIDERS!

Recently, we received a call for an injured Turtle at a pond in Punggol. To our shock, we rescued a Red-eared Terrapin/Slider (right) with his/her whole face bitten off by another Turtle in the pond. The poor Turtle had to be euthanised to end the suffering. We received another call the same weekend for another injured Turtle from the same location. It was heart-breaking to receive another similarly injured Red-eared Slider (left), who faced a similar fate.

Even though Red-eared Sliders are legally sold and allowed to be kept as pets in Singapore, they are wild animals with diverse needs in terms of space, sunlight and more. Very often, these animals end up being abandoned to fend for themselves in unfamiliar environments, and may end up getting run over on the roads or stranded in small drains and at times attacked by other animals.

When the demand stops, the trade will too! Please say no to buying/keeping these turtles as pets. If you already have a Red-eared Slider and are unable to provide for him/her – please do not release or abandon him/her. Instead, it is your responsibility to find the Terrapin a suitable home. You can enquire with landed properties with contained outdoor ponds for a possible re-homing solution!

Source: Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) Facebook

A fairly large Chinese Softshell Turtle (Pelodiscus sp.) has been photographed in the same pond, and might possibly be the culprit, biting and attacking the Red-eared Sliders due to hunger and overcrowding in this pond.

It was a long, tiring first day, but the Festival of Biodiversity continues on Sunday! Find out why the young Spiny Hill Terrapin (Heosemys spinosa) has such a bizarre-looking shell, and more weird and wonderful stories about Singapore’s natural heritage. We’ll be at the Eco Lake Lawn from 9am to 7pm. See you there!

R.I.P. terrapin… Found at Lorong Halus Wetlands. It had been flattened by cyclists.

Source: Wilson Shee Facebook

Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
Yishun Avenue 1, 11th October 2012

Three very common non-native vertebrates of Singapore:

Green Chromide (Etroplus suratensis) (Left)
This native of river estuaries and coastal lagoons of southern India and Sri Lanka was first recorded in Singapore in 1995. Since then, it has spread to many coastal areas of Singapore. It’s possible that it was introduced to our waters through escaped or released pets, as the species has been imported in the past for the aquarium trade. Another possible route of introduction is dispersal from southern Johor, where feral populations of Green Chromide also exist. The Green Chromide is a member of the cichlid family, and several other species have also become established here. For instance, Tilapia (Oreochromis spp.) from Africa and the Mayan Cichlid (Cichlasoma urophthalmus) and Midas Cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus) from Central America are now widespread and abundant in many urban waterways, whereas South American Peacock Bass (Cichla orinocensis) and Eartheater Cichlid (Geophagus altifrons) can be found in several of our ponds and reservoirs. Man-made hybrids commonly called Flowerhorn Cichlids or Luohan are also now present in many locations, due to irresponsible owners abandoning their pets.

Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor) (Upper Right)
This lizard is commonly found in open areas such as parks, gardens, roadside vegetation, and scrubland, where it may be seen basking on tree trunks and fences. Able to change the colour of skin to aid in camouflage, the Changeable Lizard is sometimes mistakenly called a “chameleon”. During the breeding season, male Changeable Lizards develop bright orange heads with a large black blotch on the cheek and throat, displaying to females and rival males by nodding their heads and doing push-ups. This lizard, which is widely distributed through much of mainland South and Southeast Asia, was first recorded in Singapore in the 1980s, and likely reached our shores due to accidental transportation of stowaways in cargo and goods from Thailand and the northern states of Peninsular Malaysia. Since then, however, it appears to have displaced the native Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella), which used to be commonly seen in urban green spaces. Today, the Changeable Lizard has taken over many of the areas once occupied by the Green Crested Lizard, with the latter largely restricted to forests.

Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) (Lower Right)
The turtle species most commonly seen for sale in local pet stores, this native of the Mississippi River drainage in the United States has been introduced to many areas outside of its original range, often with negative ecological impacts. Rampant abandonment of pets and release of captive turtles as (misguided) acts of religious goodwill mean that the Red-eared Slider is now the most widespread and most commonly encountered turtle species in Singapore, and can be found in large numbers in most urban ponds, reservoirs, and some canals. The large populations seen in some areas are likely to be a combination of continual release of pets, as well as successful breeding in feral turtles. It is possible that the sheer number of Red-eared Sliders has an impact on native turtle species, which may be unable to compete with the Red-eared Slider for resources such as food and basking and nesting sites.

These were some of the many specimens featured at the recently-concluded Festival of Biodiversity 2014, which was held at VivoCity over the weekend.

Today is World Turtle Day! Every day is a turtle day for us at work: we care for them; we feed them; we clean their enclosures; and do treatment procedures for sick and injured turtles. But our hearts sank upon rescuing this girl (a Red-eared Slider) (Trachemys scripta elegans) from the roadside, with fractures to her plastron and sadly she did not make it through the night – as the damage to organs was beyond help!

Source: Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) Facebook

Fig. 1. Juvenile Spiny Terrapin of about 8 cm carapace length was found dead on its back, and covered with flies.
Fig. 2. The carcass was found in the middle of a tyre track, making it look like the juvenile Spiny Terrapin had been accidentally run over and killed by a vehicle.
(Photographs by Kelvin K. P. Lim)

Dead juvenile Spiny Terrapin (Heosemys spinosa) at Sime forest.

Location, date and time: Singapore Island, Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Sime forest, Sime Track; 15 May 2004; 1625 hrs

Observation: A juvenile example of about 8 cm carapace length was found dead on its back, and covered with flies on the dirt trail in the middle of a tyre track.

Remarks: The Spiny Terrapin is an uncommon native turtle that in Singapore, seems to be confined to the Central Nature Reserves. The carapace of young turtles has very distinct spiky edges (Baker & Lim, 2012: 123). As it was found in the middle of a tyre track, the dead juvenile featured here looks like it may have accidentally been run over and killed by a vehicle. However, this did not seem likely as the animal was not crushed or embedded in the substrate.

Reference:

  • Baker, N. & K. K. P. Lim, 2012. Wild Animals of Singapore. A Photographic Guide to Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians and Freshwater Fishes. Updated edition. Draco Publishing and Distribution Pte. Ltd. and Nature Society (Singapore). 180 pp.

Source: Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 73