Latest News

Tuesday, 26th April 2016
In General Japan News,

Japan's endemic turtles being forced out by alien breed

An invasive breed of turtles that was once kept as pets in Japan now vastly outnumbers the endemic species, the Environment Ministry has announced.

Studies suggest there are now around eight million red-ear slider turtles in the country, compared to just one million endemic to Japan.

Red-ear slider turtles are originally from the US, but pet owners have found that they grow to a large size and many became unable to cope with them.

This led to them being dumped in ponds and rivers, where the population of these creatures has exploded.

Masato Morikawa, an official in charge of monitoring alien species, told The Japan Times: “The growing population of red-ear slider turtles would mean the depopulation of insects, fish and other turtles that live on water weeds.

“The population has gradually but continuously been increasing over the years.”

After World War II the pets became very popular and from the 1970s onwards were a common sight at festivals and pet shops, where they were sold to the public.

Red-ear sliders are mainly found in Kanto, Chubu and the Inland Sea areas and collectively consume around 320 tons of water weeds per week, which has a huge impact on the environment.

Restrictions have now been put in place on imports of the creatures and culls set up to try and bring the numbers down.

While it is the most dominant, the red-ear slider is not the only non-endemic species that is forcing native Japanese turtles out of their natural habitat.

The poisonous red-back spider and snapping turtles are even more of a concern, as they can bite off a human finger with relative ease.