The red-eared tortoise (Trachemys scripta elegans), a typical inhabitant of the freshwater reservoirs of North America, thanks to the negligence of human and good adaptability to various natural conditions, actively settles in the rivers and ponds of the Moscow region. Experts have long argued that this species of reptiles is a real invasive threat to the middle zone of Russia.
Red-bellied turtles, as it turned out, are not difficult to exist in the conditions of Russian cold because of the unique ability to prolonged anaerobic existence at very low temperatures. Animals can sleep for three months, buried in mud at the bottom of frozen pools. They are prolific, mobile, omnivorous and early enter the age of sexual maturity.
Russian ponds and rivers overseas visitors are attacking in recent years due to the fact that they were thrown out of the door by former owners – people who bought small cute tortoises, but later did not want to take care of large, not too fragrant and voracious pets. In domestic conditions for an adult red-bellied tortoise, an aquarium with a volume of 100 liters and a reinforced food are required. Usually these reptiles live up to 40 years. All this makes them not very welcome in city apartments.
Few of the gullible buyers in the bird markets know that the International Union for Conservation of Nature has included a red-eared turtle in the first hundred of invasively dangerous plants and animals. In the US, after the invasion of these “cuties” collided after the end of World War II, when the demand for pets increased sharply. By 1996, their exports from the United States had reached eight million. The first to sound the alarm of the ecologists of Israel. Red-eared already occupied the territory of Spain, Italy and France and continue to actively expand their area to the north and east of Europe, displacing local species. Under threat are rare aquatic plants, almost all amphibians, aquatic insect larvae, endangered and important for the functioning of ecosystems, aquatic and near-water invertebrates. The situation becomes especially acute in the urban environment, where local organisms exist literally on the verge of survival. But it is here that the invasion of the turtle turtle begins.
Another danger is the ability of the red-bellied tortoise to carry a dangerous disease – salmonellosis, which is why the number of farms for breeding these animals has long since declined in the United States. Many countries in Europe already have a number of measures in place to prevent the further spread of Trachemys scripta elegans. In the EU, there is a complete ban on trade in this species.
In Moscow, over the past decade, there have been more and more cases of detection of the red-bellied turtle. At first, environmentalists believed that it was beyond her power to survive in the Russian cold, but practice showed that this was not the case. They are regularly found in Tsaritsyn and Kuzminsky ponds, Yauz, Chermyanka, ponds Mars and Djamgarovsky, and also in the Altufevsky river. This year the Muscovites noticed the American invaders in the Vorontsovsky and Chernevsky ponds.