Rangers in New York City’s Central Park have posted a statement on their official website advising local residents to stop bringing their pet turtles to Turtle Pond. It was the park’s owners who set the first turtles free here back in 1980. Since then, it has become tradition to hatch and raise these funny-looking little turtles at home, and then set them free in the park. This tradition is especially popular today when “thinking green” is so popular.
As a result, the pond is now teeming with reptilian life. Wild turtles are known to prefer living alone to being in large groups.
The people of New York City love their Central Park turtles. There are land turtles, tortoises, grazing peacefully on the grass. They are larger but more placid than their water turtle relatives and are herbivores. Water turtles are predators by birth and are even feared by larger ducks and geese. The turtles’ former owners often come back to the pond in the hope of meeting their old pets.
The first turtles, Odontochelys semitestacea, a toothed species, are thought to have appeared 220 million years ago during the Mesozoic Era. The giant sea turtles (Archelon ischyros) of the Cretaceous Era are the largest turtles on record. Their skeletons often measure over four meters long – meaning that these distant ancestors of modern pet turtles could have weighed over two metric tons.
Turtles have excellent color recognition, and rely on that rather than their sense of smell in their quest for food. Land turtles are particularly fond of red and prefer reddish fruits and vegetables. They also prefer light green tones to dark greens. However, the inhabitants of turtle pond are quite happy to eat any food, regardless of its color.
Turtles score relatively high results during IQ tests and are smarter than other reptiles, as well as some mammals, including rabbits, as well as birds. In one typical test, different animals were given a logic problem to solve; they were tasked with working out where their food had gone. The turtle was the only animal to realize that it needed to crawl along a screen to find the missing food tray.
There is a law in the U.S. State of Florida that expressly forbids people to disturb turtles during the nesting season, to speak loudly or to drive by Turtle Beach in Siesta Key with their headlights on because the turtles may become disoriented and get lost.