Red-Eared Slider Turtle

Category: Sea Life

Red-eared slider turtles are found in rivers, lakes, ponds and other bodies of water with muddy bottoms from the Gulf of Mexico to Indiana. Their diet includes freshwater mollusks, beetles, algae and crayfish. They live between 50 and 70 years in the wild.

Red-Eared Slider Turtle

Red-Eared Slider Turtle

Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Reptilia

Order - Testudines

Family - Emydidae

Genus - Trachemys

Species/Subspecies - T. scripta elegans

Common Names - Red-eared Slider, Red-eared Terrapin. This turtle is a subspecies of the Pond Slider Turtle.


Red-eared slider turtles have a brownish-green shell and a dark green head and legs. Their shell, head and legs are covered with yellow and black lines, and they have a distinctive red stripe on both sides of their head. Adults measure between 5 to 8 inches in length.


The breeding season for red-eared slider turtles lasts from March through June. Females go to shore and dig nests for their eggs. They can lay as many as 22 eggs at a time, and the eggs typically hatch in late summer or early fall.


Red-eared slider turtles get their name from their stripes and their tendency to slide into the water when they are startled. They spend most of the day on rocks or logs in sunny areas, especially from March through mid-October when they are most active. The sun helps these cold-blooded reptiles control their body temperature. If there are not enough surfaces to bask on, red-eared slider turtles will form stacks on top of one another. During the winter months, they stay buried in mud in order to keep warm.


Red-eared slider turtles are still found in their historic range, and they have also been introduced to other parts of the world over the years. Their historic range includes Mexico and the United States, while their newer range includes parts of Canada, Europe, South Africa and Asia.

Present status

The red-eared slider turtle has a status of least concern because the species is not at risk of a significant population decline. These turtles were commonly part of the pet trade until 1975, when concerns about the spread of salmonella from turtles to children were raised. Potential threats to the species include habitat loss and egg harvesting, but they are protected by regulations and legislation.