Red-eared sliders are named for the prominent red patch on the side of their head. Native to quiet waters in the southeastern and southwestern United States, unauthorized releases have made this species invasive in Western and Central Europe, South Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania.
  • Size

    5 to 8 inches
  • Diet

    Omnivorous
  • Range

    North America
  • Habitat

    Quiet waters with muddy bottoms

Physical Characteristics

  • Red-eared slider has a prominent red patch on the side of its head. In rare instances, this patch will be yellow. Further, not all of these turtles show this patch.
  • Occasionally, due to melanism the coloration of a red-eared slider’s shell, head, tail and limbs become increasingly dark. These dark individuals can completely lack many identifying characteristics. This condition is more common among males.
  • The lower jaw of a slider is rounded, whereas it is flat for members of other genera
  • Carapace is commonly 5-8 inches (12.5-20.3 cm) long with a maximum size of 11.375 inches (28.9 cm).

Animal Fact

Occasionally, due to melanism, the coloration of a red-eared slider’s shell, head, tail and limbs become increasingly dark. This condition is more common among males.

Diet / Feeding

  • Omnivorous – diet consists of a wide variety of plant and animal matter.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in North America from West Virginia through New Mexico, to the Gulf and extreme northeast of Mexico. There is a colony in Ohio and has been introduced in large parts of Maryland.
  • Found in quiet waters with muddy bottoms. The slider will bask on logs or other surfaces protruding from the water.
  • Due to unauthorized releases, the red-eared slider appears in areas outside of its native range, including Western and Central Europe, South Africa, Southeast Asia, and Oceania.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Hatchling carapace ranges in length from 0.875 to 1.125 inches (2.2-3.8 cm). Will typically be colorful and patterned, fading as turtle ages into adulthood.
  • At juvenile stage, coloration is green with a plastron marked by eye-like spots.
  • Hybridization between similar species is not uncommon.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.
  • Due to its abundance in non-native Europe threatening local species, the European Union has banned the importation of s. elegans.
  • T. scripta as a whole is listed as one of IUCN’s “100 Worst Invasives.”

Additional Information

  • Fellow subspecies include yellowbelly, Cumberland and big bend sliders.

Sources

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