Baby Michaela, peeking out from her shell in the palm of my friend Nickie's hand.

Since I had pictures of my other furry and scaly family members posted under “Animals with their tongues out,” I thought it would be nice to also introduce my only female, Michaela. Michaela is a red-eared slider turtle.


Grown up Michaela swimming around, shot from underneath her tank.

Michaela joined the family in mid 2004 and has grown quite a bit! I love this shot because you can see her pretty belly scales.

Like many reptiles, these turtles are frequently bought when they are really young and small and released when they get larger than the owner anticipated, or when the owner discovers how difficult they are to care for or how long they live. Red-eared sliders are not native here in California and are heavily competing with our only native pond turtle, the Western pond turtle. Western pond turtles are in serious decline right now, but that is mostly due to habitat destruction. Right now, zoos in California and Oregon are working with universities to collect Western pond turtle eggs, incubate and hatch them and care for the hatchlings until they reach a larger size, increasing their chances of survival, and then releasing them back into their habitat. They are also studying them to find out at what temperatures embryos develop into males and at what temperatures they develop into females (For many reptiles, incubation temperature plays a role in sex determination. Sometimes it’s the only factor, as far as we know). I am quite excited to see where this research leads and if they have much success in their “head start” program.