TURTLES of the red-eared slider species (Trachemys scripta elegans) have been found living around Lake Baňa near Michalovce, east of Košice, even though this species is originally from the Americas. It seems that living in the area is quite conducive for the turtles and they are even able to spend winter in the wild there.
Zuzana Argalášová, a zoologist from the protected area known as the Vihorlat Landscape Park, told the TASR newswire that the red-eared sliders living near the lake were in all probability let loose by people who had originally bred the turtles at home.
“In the 1980s, these turtles were sold in the size of a ten-crown banknote. But they gradually grew and owners failed to accommodate their needs as it was necessary to change their water daily and to feed them regularly,” Argalášová explained, adding that some of these owners or breeders got rid of their turtles by releasing them to the nearest river or lake.
Because sliders are very vigorous and have no natural predators they can survive in the wild without much trouble, Argalášová said, noting they have documented a colony of seven turtles living near Michalovce.
“Since April 2007, a ban on importing and breeding several species of exotic animals has been in effect and this includes the red-eared sliders. However, the ban does not apply to animals that had been previously registered – people can continue to breed those,” Argalášová told TASR.
She noted that pet shops can only currently sell species of water turtles that cannot survive in the wild.
The zoologist reported that the exotic American turtles can be seen in spring sunbathing on the banks of the Baňa after having wintered by the lake.
Because this species is not indigenous to Slovakia they are moved to the zoo at Bojnice if they are captured.
“This species has no place in our fauna,” Argalášová stated, noting that the only indigenous species of turtle in Slovakia is the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis).