Everyone needs a little bit of natural sunshine and that's true for red-eared slider turtles, too. But while soaking up some rays on Monday afternoon, one of Kenyon resident Emily Strusz's wandered off. Strusz received word Thursday afternoon that the turtle had been found with the help of a neighbor's cat.
The turtle is one of Strusz's eight red-eared sliders and is the smallest of the bunch. The approximately 5-year-old semi-aquatic male turtle has a shell length of about 7 inches.
"I'm upset about it just because for me, they are family members and you feel responsible for their safety and their well being and its just upsetting to know that he is out there by himself," she said.
It was the first time the turtle and his reptile friends were out in the yard enclosure. The family completed it on Saturday and Strusz thinks the turtle was able to find a divot in the ground and crawl underneath.
"I was checking on them periodically. I was in the house about 30 minutes doing my normal chores," Strusz said. "I went outside to bring them all back in and noticed that one of them was no longer there."
Strusz searched her yard and her neighbor's yard and her kids searched about a four block radius with no luck. As the evening wore on, they stopped searching, figuring as the temperature dropped the turtle would find a place to hunker down for the night. Since the turtle's disappearance on Monday, Strusz said her neighbors and a few coworkers have kept an eye out for it.
Red-eared sliders are native to the southern United States and northern Mexico and are the most common pet turtle in the United States. Because the turtles are not native to Minnesota, they are considered invasive species.
"That is one of the biggest reasons, other than the fact that he has been in captivity his whole life," Strusz said. "Being in captivity reduces the chances of him surviving in the wild."
Strusz posted in multiple Facebook groups about the missing turtle. One of those pages -- the Kenyon Police Department’s page. "If you find the turtle, please call dispatch at 651-385-3155 and ask for the officer on duty," the page says.
To catch the turtle, Strusz recommends grabbing it in the middle of its shell.
"You don't want to get too close to the head, but you want to be careful because they do have claws and they obviously get scared," Strusz said. "The biggest thing is you want to keep them flat. When you pick them up, you don't want to tip their head down or tip it up because that's very disorienting for them."