Red-eared Slider
Trachemys scripta elegans

Common Name:

Red-eared Slider

Scientific Name:

Trachemys scripta elegans



Trachemys is derived from the Greek word trachys which means "roughness" and emys which means "turtle".


scriptais derived from the Latin word scriptura meaning "a writing".


elegans is derived from the Latin and means "elegant".

Average Length:

5 - 8 in. (12.5 - 20.3 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

11.4 in. (28.9 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This is a freshwater turtle ranging between 5-8 inches (record=11-3/8 in). The most distinguishing characteristic for this species is an elongated, broad red stripe behind the eyes. This is fainter in females and may be completely obscured in hatchlings. Carapace is a yellowish-green with yellow stripes running vertically down the pleural scutes. They also have black blotches on the plastron and horizontal yellow stripes on the rear of the thighs. The males of this species are subject to melanism which with age turns the entire turtle black *10760,11407,11624*.

REPRODUCTION: Mating will occur in any season but summer. Nesting probably occurs April-July *10760*.

BEHAVIOR: Sliders in general are frequent baskers who pile on top of each other if "hauling out" sites are few. They are very wary and will slide into the water at the slightest provacation. As adults they eat aquatic vegetation and some aquatic invertebrates, tadpoles and small fish. Juveniles are entirely carnivorous *10760,11407*. Hibernates during winter months *10760*.

ORIGIN: This species is introduced but is considered naturalized. It was sold widely in pet stores and most populations originated from pet turtles that were released. It is a native of the Midwest *10760,11407*.

POPULATION PARAMETERS: Intergrades with Trachemys scripta scripta wherever the two coexist. There are several intergrade populations in the southeastern part of the state that show characteristics of both T.s. elegans and T.s. scripta *10760*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: Prefers still water with a muddy, organic bottom and an abundance of aquatic vegetation and basking sites. Juveniles preyed upon raccoons, wading birds, some fish and snakes. Eggs eaten by numerous avian and mammalian predators *10760*.

References for Life History

  • 10760 - Mitchell, J. C., 1994, The Reptiles of Virginia, 352 pgs., Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC
  • 11407 - Conant, Roger and, Collins, John T., 1998, Peterson Field Guide: Reptiles and Amphibians, Eastern/Central North America, 616 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Company;, Boston
  • 11624 - Mitchell, J. C., 2001, Personal Communication, Expert review for GAP Analysis Project, Mitchell Ecological Research LLC


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Verified County/City Occurrence

Alexandria City
Amherst County
Arlington County
Charles City County
Chesterfield County
Fairfax City
Fairfax County
Falls Church City
Gloucester County
Goochland County
Hanover County
Henrico County
Henry County
Isle of Wight County
James City County
Loudoun County
Martinsville City
New Kent County
Newport News City
Norfolk City
Prince William County
Richmond City
Surry County
Tazewell County
York County
Verified in 25 Counties/Cities.


Virginia is home to 28 species of frogs and toads.


We have a large diversity of salamanders consisting of 56 different species and subspecies.


Virginia is home to 9 native lizard species and two introduced species, the Mediterranean Gecko and the Italian Wall Lizard.


The Commonwealth is home to 34 species and subspecies of snake. Only 3 species are venomous.


Virginia has 25 species and subspecies of turtle. Five of these species are sea turtle.