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Red-Eared Slider

Trachemys scripta elegans
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern
Southern United States & Northern Mexico
Wide range of aquatic habitats

Red-eared Sliders are named for the red stripe behind each eye. They inhabit a wide range of aquatic habitats like ponds, streams, swamps, and lakes. This species is almost entirely aquatic, but they require access an above-water basking spot, as they are cold-blooded and need to warm their bodies. They are also agile swimmers and earned their name "sliders" due to their ability to quickly slide off rocks and logs into the water. Red-eared Sliders have webbed feet that are well adapted for their aquatic lifestyle.

Their shell, known as the carapace, is typically dark greenish brown in color with a smooth and slightly domed shape. It provides protection and serves as a natural shield for the turtle's body. The carapace of Red-eared Sliders is relatively flat when compared to some other turtle species.

In terms of diet, Red-eared Sliders have a diverse feeding behavior. They consume a combination of insects, fish, and vegetation. They can live up to 30 years.

They typically search for suitable nesting sites on land, often choosing sandy or loose soil areas near water bodies. The nesting season for these turtles usually occurs in spring or early summer.

Once the female has found a suitable location, she will dig a nest hole using her hind legs and lay her eggs within it. Red-eared Sliders are known to lay relatively large clutches of eggs, which can range from 10 to 30 eggs in a single nesting event. After carefully placing the eggs in the nest, the female covers them with soil, using her hind legs to conceal and protect the clutch.

Red Eared Sliders have been commonly kept as pets. They have have been released intentionally or unintentionally into many North American environments, where they can become invasive. The invasive turtles take over prime basking, feeding, and burmating spots from other turtles. Our native Spotted Turtles and Blanding’s Turtles are now endangered, and the Red Eared Sliders have been a major factor in their decline. Invasive species can also carry diseases that can threaten native species.