Pond Slider (Trachemys scripta). Great Malaga Path
It is an aquatic flattened turtle (terrapin) with a carapace between 15 and 25 cm long, and slightly wider at the back. The dorsal part of the carapace is greenish with yellow lines. The ventral zone (plastron or breastplate) is yellow and has complex patterns of symmetrical dark spots. It lacks inguinal plates. There is no mobility between the breastplate and the back. The skin is greenish with yellow lines, both on the head and on the legs. Both the young and the adults exhibit a spot between the eye and the eardrum known as the "ear", which has an orange or reddish color (T. scripta elegans) or yellow (T. scripta scripta). The nails of the males are very long.
WHERE DOES IT LIVE (HABITAT)?
It is present in all kinds of wetlands, ponds and pools, small streams, natural and artificial lagoons, parks and gardens ponds, large rivers and reservoirs. It is an invasive alien species appearing in places where people release it. It is undemanding relative to the state of conservation of water, being able to survive simply by having shelter, food and sun.
HOW DOES IT LIVE?
It is an aquatic species that feeds and mates in water. It takes long sunbaths on the banks of or on floating objects. It can make long land trips in search of favourable places. Its diet is carnivorous, although sometimes it ingests some vegetable matter. Some specimens have been observed chasing young Spanish pond turtles.
HOW DOES IT REPRODUCE?
The Florida pond slider can have two mating periods. The first one starts in April and lasts until July. The second one can occur between August and September. The laying (between 11 and 18 eggs) takes place from June the eggs are deposited by the female in excavated nests under the wetland shore soil. The nesting period lasts about 2 to 2,5 months. The baby turtles hatch between August and September, being able to hibernate in the nest until the following season if the environmental conditions are not adequate.
WHERE CAN WE SEE IT IN MALAGA AND ON THE STAGES OF THE GREAT PATH?
The Florida pond slider is an American species. Its distribution responds to random releases carried out with specimens from the pet trade. It can appear anywhere in the province, although populations tend to be located more frequently in water points, in recreational areas or parks and gardens near town centres. Along the Great Path, we can find it on stages 11, 12, 18, 20, 21, 22, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34 and 35.
LEVEL OF PROTECTION - THREAT (INVENTORY)
It is an introduced species with a strong invasive character. It is included in the Spanish Catalog of Invasive Alien Species. It constitutes a threat to native wildlife because it competes very effectively for resources and habitats; it tends to have greater reproductive success, and there have been cases of predation on native species. Its trade and releases must be controlled.
The expansion of this species by the province is due to lost or released pets from captivity. It can reach a large size (up to 31 cm) and shows a certain aggressiveness when its grows up. For these reasons many owners end up releasing it in the natural environment. On one hand the owner solves his problem, but on the other hand this leads to greater issues because once they are free, these animals easily form viable populations. These populations are then very difficult to control due to technical reasons and the ethical connotations that this entails.
SIMILAR SPECIES (IT CAN BE MISTAKEN WITH...)
It can be mistaken with the leprous pond turtle. It differs from it by its more greenish pigmentation, bigger size and by the absence of inguinal plates in the breastplate. There may be confusion with the "ear" in young leprosy turtles, but this disappears in the leprous adults and remains in the subspecies T. s. elegans. The yellow pigmentation and dark skin pattern of the European species makes it difficult to confuse with the Florida pond slider.