ISSN 2398-2985  

Red-eared slider


Synonym(s): Trachemys elegans, Red-eared terrapin


Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia.
  • Phylum: Chordata.
  • Class: Reptilia.
  • Order: Testudines.
  • Suborder: Cryptodira.
  • Family: Emydidae.
  • Genus: Trachemys.
  • Species: scripta.

Distribution and habitat

  • Native to the southern United States and northern Mexico.
  • Due to pet releases, it has also become established in other places, becoming an invasive species in many areas. Wild populations are now found in Europe and southeast Asia.
  • The Red-eared slider sunbathe frequently to warm their body temperature.
  • In the wild they usually inhabit areas containing still, warm water, eg swamps, lakes, ponds, streams and creeks. These areas provide easy ways of getting out of the water to climb onto rocks or tree trunks, so they can warm up in the sun.

Species status

  • Prevalent.
  • Invasive species.

Life span

  • Typically 15-30 years, however some have been known to live for >40 years.
  • In captivity, life expectancy is shorter, although the quality of their living environment has a strong influence on their lifespans.


  • Omnivorous.
  • Juveniles are more carnivorous and in the wild will consume small fish, aquatic insects and tadpoles.
  • Good quality turtle pellets can be fed along with vegetation.
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, dandelion leaves and dark leafy greens can be fed to adults in captivity.
  • Generally, require aquatic plants in high abundance Chelonia nutrition.


  • Sexual maturity in both males and females can be reached at 2-7 years of age Chelonia reproduction.
  • Breeding usually takes place between March and July.
  • Mating takes place under water.
  • After mating, the female will spend extra time basking to keep her eggs warm, and may also have a change of diet, eating only certain foods.
  • Depending on body size and other factors, the female can lay between 2-30 eggs.
  • Incubation takes 55-65 days.
  • The sex of the hatchlings is determined by incubation temperature. Only males are produced when eggs are incubated at 22-27°C/71.6-80.6°F, whereas females develop at warmer temperatures.

As pets

  • Known to be the world’s most commonly traded reptile.
  • They are infection risks to humans:
    • Asymptomatic carriers of Salmonella bacteria.
    • Many humans have been infected by the handling of turtles, which has led to the restrictions in the sales of the Red-eared slider in the USA.
  • In Florida, it is illegal to sell any wild-type Red-eared slider, as they interbreed with the local Yellow-bellied slider Yellow-bellied slider population.

Biological Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • The State of Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (2016) Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). Website: Last accessed 18th July 2018.
  • Cabej N R (2013) Epigenetic Determination of Sex in Reptiles. In: Department of Biology, University of Tirana, Tirana, Albania Building the Most Complex Structure on Earth. University of Tirana, Albania. pp 59-120.
  • Pollock C (2011) Basic Information Sheet: Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta). Website: Last accessed 17th July 2018.
  • VCA Hospitals (2009) Turtles: Aquatic Diseases. Website: Last accessed 2nd February 2018.
  • Kramer M (2007) Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans). In: Unusual Pet Care Volume 2. 2nd edn. Eds: Kottwitz J & Coke R. Zoological Education Network, USA. pp 1-12.
  • Ochoa J (2007) Red-eared Slider Turtles now on State's no-no List for Pets. Naples Daily News.

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