Turtles make themselves at home in Auckland’s waterways
Turtles are probably one of the last things you’d expect to show up in Auckland City’s waterways, but that’s exactly what’s happening with a surge in numbers of Red-eared sliders in our rivers and lakes.
The Red-eared slider turtle is a common species used as pets around New Zealand. They are very cute and sweet when young, but can become temperamental and grumpy as they grow older and larger. Those aged around 10 years old can be as big as dinner plates, and they can live for up to 50 years.
While many of these turtles are kept as pets, they have also been showing up more often in the wild, thought to have potentially been released by pet owners. At first, it was thought that New Zealand would be too cold for the species to live in the wild, but it appears that groups have been surviving in our waterways.
In fact, Auckland may soon have to take measures to remove some of the turtle population from the waterways, as they can be damaging to our delicate ecosystem by harming small animals and fish. It’s for this reason that the turtles are already illegal in Australia.
As the turtles continue to live and breed in our waterways, steps are being taken to review their status as a pest. The results of the review could mean a cull in turtle numbers, and perhaps a law change around red-eared sliders to help ensure the situation does not arise again.
Dr Imogen Bassett is an Auckland City council biosecurity adviser, and she clearly explained the issue to the NZ Herald in December.
“We have lost a huge proportion of our wetlands to drainage. The last thing these already under-pressure water bodies need is to have turtles added to the mix,” she said.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist