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)

Systematics: Described originally as Testudo scripta by Johann David Schoepff in 1792; type locality not stated, but designated as Charleston, South Carolina, by Schmidt (1953). The genus Trachemys was first used for this species by Agassiz (1857), but the generic status remained uncertain until recently (see "Remarks"). Sixteen subspecies are recognized throughout its range. There appear to be two evolutionary lineages, one in the neotropics and one in the temperate zone (Iverson, 1992). The latter includes T. s. scripta (Schoepff), T. s. elegans (Wied), and T. s. troostii (Holbrook). Ernst (1990) and Conant and Collins (1991) illustrated the distributions of these subspecies. Of these, T. s. scripta, the nominate subspecies, and T. s. troostii are native to Virginia. The latter was first described as Emys Troostii by John Edwards Holbrook in 1836 based on specimens from the Cumberland River, Tennessee. It was first recognized as a subspecies of Pseudemys (= Trachemys) scripta by Carr (1937). Other names applied to this species in the Virginia literature are Emys serrata (Holbrook, 1836), Emys cumberlandensis (= T. s. troosth) (Holbrook, 1836), Pseudemys scripta (Hoffman, 1949b; Schmidt, 1953; Burger, 1958; Conant, 1958), and Chrysemys scripta (e.g., Ernst and Barbour, 1972; Conant, 1975; Mitchell, 1976a, 1981a; Tobey, 1985; Delzell, 1979). Content of this genus follows Seidel (2002, J. Herpetol. 36: 285–292).

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


*Click on a thumbnail for a larger version.

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