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Red-Eared Slider

Red-Eared Slider
Trachemys scripta elegans
(Order:  Testudines, Family:  Emydidae)

Description:  The red-eared slider is one of the best known and most recognizable turtles in Kansas.  It is a medium sized turtle with a dark green, oval top shell (carapace). In younger turtles, the carapace is marked with yellow.  The red-eared slider has dark green legs with thin yellow stripes and a green head with a red stripe behind the eye.  Adults range from 5-10 inches long, with the longest on record being 11.38 inches.

Habitat and Range:  Red-eared sliders are native to the Mississippi River valley, from Illinois, west to Kansas and Oklahoma, and south to the Gulf of Mexico.  These turtles like quiet, soft, muddy bottomed waters with suitable basking spots, including lakes and ponds.  They rarely venture from their home ranges, leaving only to nest, reproduce, or hibernate.

Diet:  Red-eared sliders eat aquatic insects, snails, tadpoles, crawfish, fish, crustaceans, and mollusks.  They also eat plants like arrowhead, water lilies, hyacinths, and duck weed.  Feeding occurs under water, usually in the early morning or in the late afternoon.

Behavior:  Red-eared sliders usually frequent quiet water with a muddy bottom and abundant vegetation, but they are also rarely found in moving waters. They can frequently be seen basking on rocks, logs, vegetation masses, and on banks.  Some are even found on roadsides.

Communication: Red-eared sliders communicate with touch and vibrations. They also have a good sense of vision.

Reproduction:  Breeding in red-eared sliders takes place from March to early June and in warmer climates again from September to November.  The nests may be constructed large distances from the water.  The female usually lays between 5-18 eggs.

Conservation Status: Red-eared sliders are not protected under any laws because they are considered to be flourishing.  They are commonly found in the pet trade industry including in pet stores and in many homes since they are also known as the “dime-store turtle”.

Video: Reptiles, Amphibians, Invertebrates and Small Pets: Red-Eared Slider Facts

Ernst, Carl H., Jeffrey E. Lovich, and Roger W. Barbour. 1994. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Institution Press.

Red-Eared Slider Turtle-
The Biogeography of the Red-Eared Slider-

Image Credits:
United States Distribution Map from Ernst, Carl H., et al. 1994

Photos of Trachemys scripta elegans by:  Casey Cantrell, June 2011

Submitted by:  Casey Cantrell, July 2011

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
Comments can be sent to Mary Liz Jameson.
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