Abandoned Turtles A Growing Burden for Local Reptile Rescue
Spenard pet supply shop rescues dozens of cast-off turtles a year
ANCHORAGE - An animal rescue group in Anchorage says it’s being overrun by turtles that people don’t want. The Alaska Cricket Ranch in Spenard doubles as the Wild Things Reptile Rescue. Director Dianna Smith said they are full to the brim with turtles.
“We get over 30 turtles a year at the shelter and I’m sure there are lots of other people that are rescuing [them],” said Smith. “It’s just really sad, what’s happening to such a beautiful creature.”
Smith said most people don’t realize how quickly a baby turtle can grow, and how large it can get in a short period of time. Pretty soon, the tank that people have invested in is far too small.
Adult turtles like the Red Slider—the most common kind the shelter receives—require a 55-gallon tank with a strong filter, special lights, and a dry dock. Smith said the set-up could run as much as $500, and many people aren’t willing to invest once their baby turtle turns big.
Smith said people don’t realize that a turtle is a commitment that can last a long time, since turtles often live to age 50 and beyond. She said the shelter is at capacity with unwanted turtles that started off as pets. She would like to find homes for them, but said it may be more realistic to send them outside.
Turtles can’t survive in the wild in Alaska, so setting them free here is not an option. But a Missouri woman with a large private pond has offered to take them all. Smith said she is raising funds to try and send dozens of the turtles to Missouri.