Customs officials in Malaysia seized 5,255 baby red-eared slider turtles inside small baskets of two passengers. The two men told officials at Kuala Lumpur Airport they’re transporting the baby turtles to India to be sold as pets.
“Red-eared sliders are on the list of the 100 most invasive species in the world,” said Allison Begley of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “They’re omnivores. They eat anything, and they adapt to any habitat.”
This species of turtle is quite common to house as pets since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rose to popularity in the 1990s. However, they’re also carriers for diseases like salmonella.
The Queensland government in Australia invested close to $700,000 to eradicate red-eared sliders, because as they mature and grow, they become more aggressive. The fine for smuggling these turtles is estimated to be more than $12,600.
The two men will be charged with the fine and could face up to five years in jail.
Although red-eared sliders are cute, they’re invasive species. So don’t attempt to smuggle them.
[Featured Image: Flickr/ Sheila Sund]