Red Eared Slider Fact File
Red eared sliders are most noticeable due to the red or orange stripe which runs down the side of the face from the eyes. Also on the face and legs are a yellow stripe.
Their body is enclosed within the shell. The top of the shell (carapace) is a dark olive green with yellow markings. It is oval shaped and has sharp edges. The bottom of the shell (plastron) is yellow and is marked with dark colours in a range of shapes. The shell measures 12.5-28cm (4.9-11in).
A red eared slider is capable of fully retracting their head in to the shell. They have four short legs which end with feet that have webbed toes each of which have a small claw.
Total length can be up to 29cm (11.4in). They may weigh up to 3.2kg (7lbs).Male red eared sliders are smaller than females.
The red eared slider is an omnivore. Adults are primarily herbivorous feeding on plant material such as stems, flowers, leaves and algae.
They are opportunistic and take any opportunity to feed. They will eat both in and out of the water.
Trachemys scripta elegans
Wild 30 years
Record 41.3 years
— AD —
North America is the native home of the red eared slider. They are found across the southeastern United States from Alabama and South down to Northern Mexico.
They are one of the most invasive species on Earth. Populations have now been introduced on to every continent except Antarctica. These turtles are one of the most traded animals both for pets and food.
Red eared sliders live in a range of lakes, rivers, creeks, streams, estuaries, coastal wetlands and riverine environments. Across the world they have been introduced in to a wide range of freshwater environments.
The breeding season of the red eared slider lasts from April to October though this can extend out to December in the event that weather is good that year.
Red eared sliders will chase one another and bite or display the foreclaw. Males will also attempt to bite the female. They may lay up to five clutches of eggs in one year. The clutch of eggs is deposited in to a hole dug by the mother in to a sandy shore line. This is typically 10-14cm (3.9-5.5in) deep. Between 2 and 23 eggs may be laid in each clutch.
Incubation is an average of 75 day’s though this is slightly variable as a result of the temperature which they are incubated at.
Once they hatch the young red eared slider may immediately make their way to the surface to begin life. Others though will overwinter, a process in which they remain in the nest and survive on their yolk. This can lead to them being larger when they emerge helping to increase hatchling survival rates. They may remain underground for up to 10 months before emerging.
Red eared slider eggs may be eaten by white tailed deer, skunks, bass and red fox.
The red eared slider is independent immediately from birth with the female providing no maternal care once they lay the eggs.
Females reach sexual maturity at 8 years old with males maturing much earlier at 4 years old.
As a reptile the red eared slider is reliant on the sun to produce energy. To get this it is regularly seen basking on the shores of the waterways they inhabit. On occasion when there are large numbers of turtles in an area and few basking spots they will stack on top of one another.
A group of turtles may be known as a bale, nest, dule or turn. They are sociable animals and will often spend time together.
They are mostly active during the day and at night they rest on the bottom of the waterway they inhabit. Activity slows down across the winter months.
Predators and Threats
Humans affect the population of red eared sliders through shooting and collisions with vehicles and boat propellers.
Their yellow and red colouration helps them to avoid predation as some animal’s take these to mean that this animal is harmful if ingested.
Red eared sliders are regularly sold as pets and large farms exist in the USA to supply this trade.
Public Domain, USFWS
By Ltshears – Trisha M Shears (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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