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Red-eared slider turtle

The Red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) is native to the warm watery areas of southern United States and northern Mexico. Their shells are dark green with dark markings and the head, tail, and legs are also green with fine, yellow striping patterns, camouflaging them from predators. Their red marks are on either side of their head behind their eyes. They eat bugs, tadpoles, and vegetation, although older turtles prefer plants. They like swimming in ponds and due to their cold bloodedness, will also sit on logs or rocks and stretch out towards the sun. In the wintertime, depending on how cold it gets, most red-eared sliders will swim to the bottom of a pond and sleep or brumate and wake up when it's warmer, generally in March or April.

In Florida and in some other countries, the Red-eared slider is listed as invasive. Other turtles and wildlife have a difficult time competing with them. It's important to follow laws/regulations that are set up to protect native species. At Dottie's Pond, however, the Red-eared slider seems to be right at home and gets along with other pond dwellers.

Dottie's Pond is located in South San Jose, at Jose Joaquin Bernal's ranch (built in 1826, now maintained by the County). It's a man-made pond and is fed by a natural spring. On a recent trip, minnows and large fish were spotted along with several Red-eared sliders sitting atop a partially submerged log in a sunny spot. Large oaks and native scrub surround the pond and creates many places to perch or hide, as well as a shady resting area for hikers.

See for more information about Dottie's Pond. If visiting, the best time would be 1pm, summertime, when the sun is directly overhead and providing a clear view into the pond; a hiker claims that a gigantic white fish lives at the bottom. Or just go anytime and enjoy a nice hike, interesting history, some stories, and a family of Red-eared sliders.

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