The red-eared slider, or Trachemys scripta elegans, is a semi-aquatic turtle from the Emydidaw family. Known also as the red-eared slider turtle, red-eared terrapin, red-eared turtle, water slider turtle, and slider turtle, this is a pond slider subspecies that is among the most popular and loved pet turtles in America. In fact, it is quite a popular pet in the world and is on the list of the top 100 most invasive species in the world. Because of this, this species with yellow stripes is also among the top commonly traded turtle species in the world.
Native to northern Mexico and the southern United States, red-eared slider turtles are present in other places as well, mainly because of pet trading. In fact, in many areas where they are an invasive species, they have outcompeted the native species. Their preferred habitat is lakes, marshes, and ponds.
Invertebrates, small fish, crustaceans, birds, frogs, tadpoles
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
2 - 30
How much do they weigh?
Up to 6 lbs (3 kg)
How long are they?
5-9 in (13-23 cm)
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
Green with yellow stripes, red patch behind each eye
What are their main threats?
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Lakes, marshes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers
Northern Mexico, Southern United States
Trachemys scripta elegans
Red-Eared Slider Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a red-eared slider?
A red-eared slider, Trachemys scripta elegans, is a type of turtle.
What class of animal does a red-eared slider belong to?
The red-eared slider, Trachemys scripta elegans, belongs to the Reptilia class.
How many red-eared sliders are there in the world?
A study put the red-eared slider's population at 8 million.
Where does a red-eared slider live?
Red-eared sliders are native to the Neotropical and Nearctic regions. They can be found from West Virginia to the southern Great Lakes region, west to Illinois and Indiana, and south throughout most of the south-central and the United States. The red-eared slider species that are common in the pet trade are native only to certain parts of the US but have started to turn up in places across the country and around the globe where they are not native. In fact, they are among the 100 most invasive species in the world.
What is a red-eared slider's habitat?
The red-eared slider habitat includes lakes, marshes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers with muddy, soft bottoms.
Who do red-eared sliders live with?
Red-eared slider turtles are solitary animals. However, during the mating season, they do socialize.
How long does a red-eared slider live?
The red-eared slider lifespan is 20-30 years.
How do they reproduce?
The breeding season for the red-eared slider turtle is between late spring and early summer. The courtship and mating activities occur underwater from March to July. Red-eared slider turtles are amniotes meaning that females have to nest on land. They prefer a nesting site made of sandy, soft soil that has good exposure to the sun. Females use their hind feet for digging the nests which are within 656 ft (200 m) of water. After mating, the females lay 2 to 30 soft-shelled, oval eggs which are fertilized as they are laid. After this, the eggs are buried in the sand. After 60 to 90 days, these eggs are hatched.
What is their conservation status?
The conservation status of red-eared sliders is of Least Concern according to the IUCN.
Red-Eared Slider Fun Facts
What do red-eared sliders look like?
Red-eared slider turtles are brightly marked species that look quite similar to painted turtles. Compared to the western painted turtle, the top shell, or carapace, of these turtles is higher domed and is weakly keeled. There are some characteristics that distinguish the slider such as yellow plastron covered in blotchy, dark markings, yellow marginal scutes, and a distinctive red ear mark behind the eye which might not be visible in older turtles. Their legs, neck, and head are green in color and have yellow stripes. The brown or olive carapace usually has black and yellow longitudinal stripes and bands. The bottom shell or plastron is yellow in color and has rounded, dark blotches in every scute.
How cute are they?
Red-eared slider species are among the most adorable turtles, because of their color and small size.
How do they communicate?
Pond sliders like red-eared sliders communicate with vibrations and touch.
How big is a red-eared slider?
The length of an adult red-eared slider ranges between 5 to 9 in (12.7 to 22.86 cm). However, females might reach 12 in (30.48 cm).
How fast can a red-eared slider move?
The average speed of a red-eared slider is only 3 to 4 mph.
How much does a red-eared slider weigh?
A red-eared slider can weigh up to 6.6 lb (3 kg).
What are the male and female names of the species?
Red-eared sliders don't have separate names for males and females.
What would you call a baby red-eared slider?
There is no specific name, though they are sometimes called hatchlings.
What do they eat?
Red-eared sliders are omnivorous which means that they eat both vegetable matter, aquatic plants, and animal protein. These voracious eaters are mainly carnivorous as juveniles, but as they age, they become more omnivorous. Just like all aquatic turtles, they also eat and swallow their food with their head underwater and don’t eat out of the water. Pond sliders like the red-eared sliders eat a wide range of invertebrates, small fish, crustaceans, birds, frogs, and tadpoles along with aquatic plants in the wild. In fact, they have also been seen scavenging on dead carcasses.
Are they poisonous?
No, red-eared slider turtles aren’t poisonous. Their bites are non-venomous. So, even if you get bitten, you won’t have to worry.
Would they make a good pet?
Red-eared sliders that commonly live in a pond or lake are illegal to get as a pet. Also, they live for about 20 years which means a serious commitment. Taking care of these pets might look easy at first, but as they continue to grow, they need a lot of constant care and a giant tank. If you want to have a pet turtle, you can go for an alternative like a painted turtle.
Did you know...
Red-eared sliders have good vision but poor hearing. Also, they are sensitive to vibrations. In case they are threatened or startled, they will slide off rocks quickly and log back into the water.
Red-eared sliders and water
Just like most other turtles, the red-eared sliders need water for their survival. Since they don’t have their own saliva, they use the water’s moisture content for making swallowing easier. Also, they need hydration from water, something that they can’t get from the air. The duration for which they can stay away from the water can vary depending on a wide range of factors. For instance, an adult and healthy red-eared slider will be able to live without any water for at least a week. However, it might become dehydrated. In a humid environment, they will be able to survive out of their pond and without water for a longer period of time.
That being said, it is possible for the red-eared sliders to survive without water for six months. But, this is the case associated with hibernation. During this period, the turtles are living in intense winter where nothing thrives or grows that might serve as their food. Because of this, they have to go into hibernation which is a period characterized by ‘shut down'. However, it is important to note that these turtles don’t hibernate. Instead, they undergo brumation which is more or less like hibernation, but milder. During this period, their body becomes inactive and the metabolic rate drops completely so that the body doesn’t need energy or sustenance.
Are red-eared sliders illegal?
Reptiles are carriers of the genus Salmonella bacteria. There have been several instances of infections caused by the handling of turtles that have led to restrictions on the sale of the red-eared slider species in the United States of America. The U.S. FDA regulation banned the sale of turtles as well as turtle eggs with a carapace length of less than 4 in (10 cm) in 1975. This covered public use as well as general commercial use. Under the Public Health Service Act, this regulation is enforced by the FDA through cooperation from local and state health jurisdictions.
The impact of turtle-associated salmonellosis on public health was the reason why this ban was enacted. The turtle eggs and turtles that are being offered for sale and found to be in violation of this provision will be subjected to destruction as per the FDA procedures. The penalty for people who don’t comply is a fine of about $1,000 or imprisonment for up to one year. However, because of the exception in the FDA regulation allowing turtles under ten centimeters to be sold for bona fide educational, exhibition, or scientific purposes, other than being used as pets, there are many flea markets and stores that still sell these small turtle pets.
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