This shy, cautious amphibious reptile thrives in the murky depths of still fresh water…
Takes its name from the thick, red line just behind each eye which looks like an ear opening.
Terrapins are shy creatures that only come out of the water to bask in the sun or to lay eggs.
“Hibernation” can take place if temperatures reach below 10 degrees celcius or above 37 degrees celcius. To do this it submerges itself deep in mud where temperatures remain fairly constant.
Juvenile terrapins are bright green. This helps to camoflage them when resting among aquatic vegetation. As the juveniles get older their shell (carapace) becomes more brownish-black with blotched markings.
Can live up to 20 years or more.
Can have about 5 -22 eggs per clutch; average about 10.
The red-eared terrapin live in still or slow-moving waters that have a muddy bottom and are thickly vegetated with aquatic plants. Ponds, lakes and quiet stretches of water, especially where they are bordered by marshes and swampy areas, are particularly favoured.
In addition, it needs suitable hiding places beneath the surface, part-submerged logs or rocks that it can climb to bask in the sun and a plentiful food supply.
This particular terrapin rarely leaves the water for long, other than to lays its eggs or if it is forced to migrate to a new home.
Terrapins are, in actual fact, turtles, but the word terrapin tends to be applied only to those turtle species that live in freshwater.
Some red-eared terrapins carry the Salmonella bacteria.
Male and female terrapins come together only to mate during the breeding season. About one month later, the female leaves the water to lay her eggs. After laying the eggs in a pit, she covers them and returns to the water. Af female may produce several batches of eggs per season and so may repeat the process. Incubation of the eggs depends on the temperature, and those laid at the end of the season, when temperatures are falling, may not hatch until the following year. On hatching, the youngsters are independent and can fend for themselves.