Mississippi and Mexico; that’s where Red-Eared Sliders are from. People have found them curious and entertaining and the pet trade has made a roaring profit from them all over the world.
They have been mis-sold in their thousands to people with tiny indoor vivaria, without preparing people properly for the fierce beast which they become. They can reach 40cm long.
When they inevitably grow, owners can’t find anyone to take them off their hands and can’t bring themselves to kill them. They have therefore released them into local ponds and lakes. They have become an ecological disaster all over the world and are in the top 100 invasive species recognised by the IUCN.
Who would have thought that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would have encouraged an ecological disaster? The European Union has now banned their import. It’s too late. Here in Villa Pamphilj in Rome they are everywhere.
They can’t control their temperature so crawl out of the water and sunbathe until they can be active enough. It’s a recipe for disaster if a species can eat almost anything and yet can’t be eaten by anything (within reason).
There’s another predator here too, looking down at a Slider in the water:
It looks like quite a young Heron. The Puffin Whisperer tells me she overheard someone calling a Heron a Grey Flamingo here last time. I’m still laughing at that. I think that’s my new name for them now.
It’s being successful hunting. There’s a tiny fish, flapping furiously, gripped in the tip of the bill:
A very successful Grey Flamingo:
As we leave I spot a red-patterned couple of terrapins.
Another invasive species? Oh dear.