Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), native to the warm southern regions of the U.S., began making their presence known early this month as temperatures warmed.
I found that pair resting atop a log as they basked in sunshine amidst reeds meant to hide their presence. Only when I approached did the larger one make clear its namesake: it slid off the log and disappeared into the water with barely a gesture.
The smaller one remained, watching me carefully, my slow movement in its direction not going without notice. Ever watchful, ever careful, its gaze never faltered as I pretended to be oblivious to its sunbathing. I don’t think I fooled it.
Yesterday while meandering around the park during a charity walk, I again stumbled upon one of these red-eared marvels as it rested in Dixon Branch. I never caught it by surprise despite my efforts to seem unaware of it.
In regions with warm weather and warm water, these beautiful turtles often are seen lined up and piled up, their social nature making sunbathing a group event when necessary.
The pet trade has unfortunately spread them around the globe. Even in the U.S. they continue to be a favorite amongst sellers and buyers looking for a terrapin, an unfortunate truth which has dwindled their numbers through overharvesting and reintroduction (thereby passing along captive diseases to wild populations).
Nevertheless, I’m thrilled White Rock Lake supports a thriving populace of these creatures such that bales of them can be seen around the area from spring through autumn.