Many millions of years ago, turtles began their journey. Slowly, they crawled into the present. Among the existing ones, Pond slider - one of the most famous freshwater turtles. The name was influenced by the appearance of one of the subspecies: it has red spots located on the head behind the eyes.
Description and Features
The body structure of these reptiles is traditional. Shell of the Red-eared Turtle - This is a two-piece construction: karpaks (upper part) and plastron (lower part). The usual length of the carapace: 15-25 centimeters. In some cases, it can reach up to 40 centimeters.
Neural scutes are located along its vertebral line. Below are the pleural or costal plates. Along the edge of the carapace, marginal, marginal carapace tiles are laid. The whole structure is slightly convex, at the base is an oval. In young individuals, a keel is noticeable.
The coloring of the shell changes with age. In young turtles, the primary color is green. As they grow older, the predominant color darkens. In its final form, it acquires an olive shade with the addition of brown. Patterns of yellow stripes are superimposed on the main background. The plastron is dark, with a yellow fringing and tan stains. The color of the turtle can be described as elegant camouflage.
The head, legs, tail can be fully retracted under the protection of the shell. The spots on the head that gave the name to the turtle can be not only red, but also yellow. With age, they lose their color. May disappear completely.
Instead of a pair of ears, the turtle has one middle ear, covered with a cartilaginous tympanic disc (eardrum), which makes it possible to catch even weak sounds. This is how the hearing system of many reptiles works.
Skull of a red-eared turtle, spine, other skeletal bones have no species features. Internal organs are also not original. Sexual dimorphism is observed with difficulty. Young turtles have practically no differences. In adult males, the front claws are more powerful than in females. The tail is thicker and longer.
Cloacal opening extends beyond the edge of the carapace. The shape of the plastron is slightly concave. These anatomical features allow males to stay on the partner and facilitate the mating process.
Scientists have described 13 subspecies, but three are best studied:
1. The nominative subspecies is the yellow-bellied tortoise. She populated the southeastern United States from Florida to Virginia. It lives in sluggish rivers, floodplain swamps, artificial ponds and in flooded areas. Her Latin name is Trachemys scripta scripta.
2. The most common subspecies is also called, as the whole species - red-eared turtle, pictured he appears most often. Scientists call it Trachemys scripta elegans. The initial distribution area is the Mississippi River area. Prefers warm and calm water areas, overgrown with various vegetation. The water surface should pass into the gentle shores, to ensure the exit of turtles to land.
3. Cumberland tortoise. It originates from the Cumberland River region in Kentucky and Tennessee. But can be found in Alabama, Georgia and Illinois. Ponds with lush vegetation and stagnant water are a favorite habitat. The scientific name is associated with the name of the naturalist Gerard Trost - Trachemys scripta troostii.
Due to the fact that the distribution zones overlap and do not have natural boundaries, there are individuals bearing signs of different subspecies.
Lifestyle & Habitat
Due to the natural tendency to travel, due to the thoughtless commercial activities of people, the red-eared tortoise can be found far from the original homeland.
She captures new living spaces. Which is completely uncharacteristic for reptiles. Attempts to populate previously uninhabited territories have their pros and cons. Expatriates can diversify the fauna of their newfound homeland, and can upset the biological balance. This is usually followed by a large or small environmental disaster.
In the last century, red-eared turtles moved to Eurasia. They were first discovered in Israel. Then the reptiles entered the south of Europe. From Spain and France came to England and central Europe.
The next step was the development of Eastern Europe. Now they can be found in Russia. Not only in the southern regions, but also near Moscow. At the same time, it is about survival in the conditions of Russian frosts, and not about life deer-eared turtles at home.
With the help of man, reptiles crossed the oceans. In the end, they reached Australia. The unique ecosystem of the continent has been seriously affected. Animals have been declared pests.
The cause of invasiveness are:
- The high mobility of these reptiles. They remain turtles, but move willingly and quickly. During the day they can overcome many kilometers.
- Omnivore. The basis of the menu is water plants, but any living creature also goes into food, if only it could be caught and held.
- The skill manages without air for months. This quality, unique to vertebrates, allows to endure winters, buried in silt at the bottom of a reservoir.
- Turtles are synatropic animals. They can exist and multiply in an environment created by man. In park ponds, artificial ponds and canals.
- Another reason was that people liked to keep these reptiles at home. Their breeding began to generate income.
In places of constant residence, animals lead a typical lifestyle for freshwater turtles. At temperatures above 18 ° C, they actively eat. They like to warm themselves, going ashore, climbing a coastal stone or a fallen tree. At the same time, they constantly monitor the situation. In case of danger, they quickly move into the water. This slipping gave rise to the English nickname Slider.
An interesting period in the life of turtles is wintering. When the temperature drops, they fall into a state similar to suspended animation. But this is not hibernation (hibernation) in its pure form, but its variant. It consists in reducing activity to a minimum and is called bruma.
In mid-latitudes in October, when the temperature is set below 10 ° C, the animal becomes numb. In this state, they remain at the bottom in the thickness of the silt, in niches under the shore, in hollow tree trunks. In the state of bruma, the tortoise may not breathe for several weeks. Anaerobic processes occur in the body, the metabolic rate decreases sharply, the heart rate drops, vital activity freezes to almost zero.
With a temporary increase in temperature, turtles can go out of their stupor and float up for breathing and feeding. That is, a short-term exit from suspended animation is realized. In spring, when the ambient temperature rises and the water warms up to 12 ° C and above, a return to active life occurs.
So turtles winter in areas with cold winters. If there is no seasonal cooling, or content of red-eared turtles passes under normal conditions - hibernation does not occur.
Freshwater turtles are omnivores. During the growth period, they consume a lot of protein food. These are small tadpoles, arthropods, fish, of suitable size. With age, the diet begins to dominate vegetative food, which includes most species of local vegetation. Omnivore can affect the flora and fauna of the territories developed by turtles. In Australia, they blame for the disappearance of a rare species of frogs.
Reproduction and longevity
Readiness for breeding in turtles occurs at 6-8 years. Growing in civilized conditions grow up faster. By 4 years they are ready for the reproduction of offspring. The breeding season in the Northern Hemisphere lasts from early spring to mid-summer. When kept indoors, the mating season lasts all year.
Males begin to look for females located towards reciprocity. They float around the chosen one. Turn to her face. They begin to shake their front paws in front of her head. It seems that the male is trying to scratch her cheeks and beak.
Cavalier may be rejected. In this case, the female behaves aggressively and can bite the applicant for copulation. The female, located to mating, sinks to the bottom, where the pair joins. The ritual of courtship lasts about an hour. Copulation lasts 10-15 minutes.
When kept in an aquarium, a male may indicate his intentions in front of another male. This proves the dominant position of the individual. Young turtles, not yet able to continue the genus, can be looked after, but their mating games end in nothing.
After a few days, the female tortoise begins to spend more time on land. Explores the coastal area and the quality of the soil, bracing it with its paws. When ready to lay eggs, she digs a hole with a depth of 20-25 centimeters and the same diameter. 8-12 sometimes 20 eggs are laid in the nest. The masonry is immediately buried. The female never returns to this place.
The eggs are fertilized during masonry. The female retains viable male gametes. This allows you to lay fertilized eggs in the following seasons, even in the absence of communication with the male.
Incubation lasts 3-5 months. Soil temperature affects the brood floor. Females hatch in a very warm (above 30 ° C) nest. Males are obtained at lower temperatures. At temperatures inside the nest below 22 ° C, the embryos die. Turtles that have not died in the first year of life have every chance of living for 20-30 years. Aquarium maintenance can extend their existence to 40 years.
In the last century, merchants appreciated the desire of people to keep these animals at home. And in their homeland, in the USA, whole farms for growing turtle young animals were created. Now, such enterprises operate not only overseas.
Decorative data, ease of maintenance and affordable price have made these reptiles one of the best-selling pets. The rules for choosing turtles are simple. Enough careful external inspection. The shell of a healthy turtle has no exfoliation, scratches, dents or cracks. It should be smooth and firm.
A healthy turtle is actively moving, when swimming does not fall on its side, there are no white spots on its paws and face, and eyes of a red-eared turtle not covered with a cloudy film. The price of a bug is affordable. The main costs associated with the purchase of an aquarium or terrarium, the arrangement of a turtle dwelling, the purchase of high-quality feed.
Maintenance and care at home
Despite the fact that in the original homeland eared turtles eat, and their eggs are used as bait for fishing, they are kept at home as ornamental animals.
Aquariums are used as the main dwelling, the necessary volume of which is 150-200 liters. But the spots (the so-called young turtles) can exist in a 50-liter aquarium.
Fresh water is poured into the aquarium. With an average acid reaction (PH from 6.5 to 7.5). Suitable tap water, which was allowed to settle for 24 hours, is suitable. To maintain the required water temperature, a heater is installed. It is recommended in winter to lower the water temperature to 18 ° C, to maintain about 22-24 ° C in spring and autumn, and increase to 28 ° C in summer.
In addition to maintaining temperature, preservation of cleanliness is required. An aquarium filter is suitable for removing trash. A stock of settled water will come in handy. From time to time you have to replenish the turtle with water. Cleaning is carried out without the use of chemicals by simply removing contaminants with a scraper or brush.
A piece of sushi is organized in the aquarium. It usually occupies a third of the total volume. Has a gentle descent into the water. The coastal part is being built independently or a finished structure is acquired. Thus butkvariumy for red-eared turtles turn into aquaterrariums.
A 60-watt lamp is installed above the coastal part of the aquarium. This is an additional heating device and light source. To fully simulate sunlight, a 5% UVB lamp is added to the incandescent lamp. Lighters are placed at a height of at least 25 centimeters so that the animal does not receive burns.
The light mode, as well as temperature, it is desirable to change depending on the time of year. In winter, the lamps are kept on for no more than 8 hours, in spring and autumn a 10-hour daylight is provided, in summer this figure reaches 12 hours.
You can use natural food to feed your pets. Protein food can consist of river fish, which is offered in unrefined and unrefined form. Turtles love snails, bugs, grasshoppers. Flour worm, another live food from a pet store can be included in the pet's menu.
The protein component prevails in the diet of young turtles. With age, the emphasis is shifted to plant foods. Can tofeed the red-eared turtle berries, edible mushrooms, pieces of fruit and various herbs. Vitamins rich in vitamins are necessary for the normal existence of a reptile.
As an alternative nutritional strategy, you can choose the use of ready-made feeds that are created for turtles of all species and all ages. They have a wonderful property: they do not pollute water.
But they can be rejected by the tortoise, which never happens with natural food. In real life, mixed feeding is most often used. Part of the food is prepared on its own, part as specialized industrial products.
Caring for the Red-eared Turtle among other things, includes walks. In the warm season, they are, if possible, taken out onto the street. In this case, two rules must be observed. First: the air temperature should not be lower than 20 ° C. Secondly: you can not leave reptiles unattended. Trachemys can very quickly realize their passion for changing places.