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Common Name: Red-eared slider Scientific Name: Chrysemys scripta

Class: Reptilia Feeding Type: Omnivore

Order: Chelonia Statistics: Length: 5-11 in
Family: Emydidae Weight: 2 lb.

DESCRIPTION: The semiaquatic red-eared slider is characterized by a short tail, a

rigid upper and lower shell, a roughly jagged rear edge on the upper shell, large dark
spots on the lower shell, and a red stripe on each side of the head behind the eye. The
upper shell is brown with a pattern of black and yellowish lines, while the lower shell is
yellow or light brown with large dark brown or black spots.
The limbs and tail are dark gray or green with yellow stripes, and the head is the
same color except for the broad red stripe behind each eye and yellow stripes above
and below the eyes. Adult females grow much larger than males. Male turtles have
longer claws on the front feet than females.

RANGE: The slider is found from eastern Kansas into the southern High Plains. It
appears to be absent along northern and western borders of the state.
Its home range lies in the Mississippi Valley drainage, with most of the population
occurring in the US from eastern New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama,
and through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, eastern Kansas, and Missouri
north to Indiana and Illinois. It also occurs naturally in isolated pockets in other states
such as Ohio, and is common in regions of northeast Mexico adjacent to Texas.
However, feral populations derived by deliberate introduction or from dumped or
escaped pets have become established in suitable habitats all over the world, including
other parts of the U.S.

HABITAT: This turtle is found in nearly every permanent body of water. It prefers quiet
water with soft mud bottoms, plentiful aquatic vegetation, and basking sites.

ADAPTATIONS: Sliders commonly develop melanism (development of dark pigment).

Both upper and lower shells will show black streaks, spots, and blotches, which will
spread over the original shell pattern. In some cases the shell will become a uniform
Sliders are active from March to October at air temperatures of 50 to 90 degrees
Fahrenheit. During winter months they burrow into the bottom mud of lakes or ponds,
or into the earth along the shoreline. They are active during the day and sleep in the
water at night, by either floating on the surface or resting on the bottom.

REPRODUCTION/GROWTH: Red-eared sliders usually breed from March to June,

when the temperature begins to rise. The male waves the long claws on its forefeet in
the face of a female to stimulate mating. As the male clambers onto the female, its
claws help it grip the female’s carapace (upper shell).
In early summer the female chooses a nest site near the water's edge, just above
the high-water mark. She lays two to 22 white eggs with leathery shells after digging
out a nest with her hind legs, and will sometimes lay two clutches in a year. Incubation
lasts 45 to 60 days.
Young sliders reach two or more inches by the second year, and will grow about
a half-inch each year until they reach adult size, up to 11 inches. Young sliders have
green shells and gain brown or black blotches as they grow.

LONGEVITY: The minimum known life span is over 25 years. One reported individual
lived 38 years.

PREY/PREDATOR: Prey to the pet trade and to larger animals such as coyotes,
raccoons and bobcats
Predator to tadpoles, fish, snails, crayfish, insects, and
aquatic vegetation

DIET: WILD: Insects, tadpoles, fish, snails, crayfish, and aquatic

SZ: Smelt and carnivore meat

STATUS: The pet trade has threatened red-eared sliders. Wild populations however,
seem to be somewhat higher now because the craze to have one as a pet ended in the
late 1980s. Sunset Zoo does not recognize them as good pets because wild turtles
often carry Salmonella.

SPECIAL NOTES: The red-eared slider is named for the way it slides into the water
and for the broad, red stripe behind each of its eyes. The slider has to maintain 14
percent of its total body volume in air to remain buoyant. The red stripe looks
somewhat like an ear, and is most noticeable in young adult males. On occasion,
however, the stripe may be yellow. Often large numbers of these reptiles bask in the
sun, and sliders may climb on top of each other in stacks of three or four to absorb the
sun's rays.

1. Alderton, David. Turtles and Tortoises of the World. Facts on File, Inc. 1988.
2. Busby, William H., Joseph T. Collins, and Jeffrey R. Parmelee. The Reptiles and
Amphibians of Fort Riley and Vicinity. Kansas Biological Survey. U.S. Department
of the Army. 1996. pg. 8-9.
3. Collins, Joseph T., S. L. Collins. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third edition.
University Press of Kansas. 1993. pg. 135-137.