Investing in conjecture: eradicating the red-eared slider in Queensland

The Red-eared Slider Turtle (REST) (Trachemys scripta elegans) is recognised as a threat to biodiversity when introduced to areas outside its natural range (IUCN/SSC 2004). REST occurs naturally in the Mississippi River (Ernst 1990). Thus, the discovery of two adult, apparently free-ranging animals in Pine Rivers Shire, southeast Queensland, Australia in January 2004 prompted investigation by agencies responsible for vertebrate pest management. Residents found the turtles wandering on a warm, rainy evening following a very dry period. They realised the turtles were unusual, their identity as REST was confirmed.

Three categories of potential risk from the presence of REST were identified: Biodiversity impacts. Studies and observations from parts of the world where REST are naturalised raised concerns that the spread of REST could precipitate a decline in native Australian Chelonians (e.g., Cadi and Joly 2003, 2004). Mechanisms for this could include (a) competition for food and living space. REST have a high reproductive output compared to Australian Chelonians, (b) introduction of exotic reptile diseases (c) impacts on fisheries. REST are omnivorous, and their diet may include fish and crustacean (Parmenter and Avery 1990), and (d) human safety impacts. The extensive trade in hatchling REST (‘penny turtles’) has created a public health risk from the spread of salmonella (Connor 1993; Mermin et al.. 2004). This has resulted in a ban on sale or distribution of hatchling REST in the USA (Connor 1993).

Author O'Keeffe, S.
Date 2005-02-05
Year 2005
Secondary title 13th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference
Place published Wellington, NZ
Publisher Landcare Research
Institution QLD Department of Natural Resources & Mines
Pages 169-176
Region QLD
Documents Download paper