Those stories about children getting alligators as pets and then flushing them when they got too big are probably apocryphal, but that doesn't mean that many families haven't abandoned their pets in the big city over the years. In fact, New York's parks are actually full of one of those pets, the red-eared slider turtle. Or, as the Daily News calls them today, "rogue turtles."
For years now the tiny baby Trachemys scripta elegans have been bought up by families in places like Chinatown and then abandoned in parks when they get too big. Once in those parks, however, the Midwestern native thrives, pushing out local turtles like painted and box turtles. Feel free to blame the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, according to the USGS, sales of the animal soared when it was revealed that the fictional pizza lovers were red-eared sliders. "It’s an epidemic," one Brooklyn-based animal rescuer, who handles thousands of unwanted and abandoned sliders a year, tells the News. "And there’s a huge influx in the spring and summer."
Making matters worse, public health officials have linked baby red-eared sliders to multiple salmonella outbreaks. In fact, the FDA has banned the sale of turtles smaller than four inches in length since 1975 because of that risk.