Manitoba

Turtle pals looking for forever home after being abandoned in a back lane

Red-eared slider turtles Crush and Morla are looking for a new lease on life after being found abandoned in a box in a back lane.

'Stick with dogs and cats,' Animal Services COO advises would-be exotic pet owners

Crush, a red-eared slider turtle, is available for adoption at Winnipeg Animal Services. His profile says he's a good eater and loves being in the water, but can be a bit shy. (Winnipeg Animal Services/Twitter)

Two red-eared slider turtles are looking for a new lease on life after being found abandoned in a box in a back lane.

Best buddies Crush and Morla have been living at Winnipeg Animal Services ever since.

Animal Services COO Leland Gordon told CBC Up to Speed host Ismaila Alfa red-eared slider turtles aren't among the most common pets — they're a far cry from a puppy that loves to snuggle — but they're popular in the exotic pet trade.

"It's sad when I see these guys, because I think about quality of life where they're going to spend their entire lives in confinement, in captivity, usually in a small habitat," he said.

The species is native to south-central areas of the United States, and was introduced to Canada through the exotic pet industry, the Canadian Wildlife Federation says.

They've been described as an invasive species in certain parts of Canada because they compete with native turtle populations — some of which are endangered — for food and for basking and nesting sites. The invasive turtles can also pass diseases to native species, the wildlife federation says.

'Stick with dogs and cats'

Gordon said the turtles shouldn't be kept as pets, but they're hoping to find a forever home for Crush and Morla since they can't be released into the wild.

"The quality of life usually is much better in the wild for exotics, so we do encourage people to stick with dogs and cats," he said. "But of course, when we do see these animals come in as strays, they're here, [and] we want to help them and we want to find the best home possible."

Morla, a red-eared slider turtle, is also available for adoption at Winnipeg Animal Services. The reptile's profile says it loves to eat, swim and bask under the light.

Gordon said his team has created a comfortable environment for the turtles, complete with a pool, added humidity, specialized turtle food and sometimes even lettuce as a snack.

"Exotic animals have very specialized care that they need," he said, adding the turtles can live for several decades.

The ideal home for the turtles would have a large tank, a good quality water filter, a heat source and a basking area, their adoption profiles say.

They require 25 per cent water changes once a week and a thorough cleaning at least once a month.

Now, Crush and Morla — who are each about the size of a small dinner plate — spend their days swimming, eating and hoping for a new home, Gordon said.

"They were probably born in the exotic pet trade," he said. "The people realized that they didn't want them and instead of finding a home, left them in a back lane."

It's a big commitment — but Gordon is confident they'll find the perfect home for the turtles.

"We're gonna find phenomenal homes for both of them," he said. "Maybe they will learn to snuggle one day."

With files from Ismaila Alfa

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