State Museum of Natural History
Biodiversity Data Centre

Trachemys scripta (Thunberg in Schoepff, 1792)

  • Testudo scripta Thunberg In Schoepff, 1792
  • Chrysemys scripta (Thunberg, 1792)
  • Emys elegans Wied, 1839
  • Emys troostii Holbrook, 1836
  • Crysemys grayi Fritz & Bienert, 1981
Vernacular Name
Pond Slider, Yellow-bellied Slider Turtle, Common Slider, Cumberland Slider Turtle, Red-eared Slider Turtle, Slider
Conservation status
No status defined
Value of species
Invasive species
Previously extending to Argentina with about 15 subspecies in North, Central and South America, most former subspecies have been elevated to species rank in recent years, leaving only Trachemys scripta scripta, T.s. troostii and T.s. elegans as current subspecies (see Seidel 2002, TTWG 2007, Fritz and Havas 2007, for details). A species of common, medium-sized, semiaquatic turtle. There are three subspecies, the most recognizable of which is the red-eared slider (T. s. elegans), which is popular in the pet trade and has been introduced to other parts of the world by people releasing it to the wild. Hatchling and juvenile pond sliders have a green upper shell (carapace), yellow bottom shell (plastron) and green and yellow stripes and markings on their skin. These patterns and colors in the skin and shell fade with age until the carapace is a muted olive green to orange brown or brown and the plastron is a dull yellow or darker. Some sliders become almost black with few visible markings. The carapace is oval with a bit of rounding and a central crest with knobs, but these features soften and fade with age, adults being smoother and flatter. For determining an adult slider's sex, males typically have much longer front claws than adult females, while females usually have shorter, more slender tails than males. Their life span ranges from 20-50 years. The origin of the name slider stems from the behavior of these turtles when startled. Groups of sliders, sometimes quite large – as well as many other types of less abundant freshwater turtles – are often seen basking and sunning on logs, branches and vegetation at or even well above the water's surface, but they readily and quickly scramble if they sense danger, shooting back in and darting away to safety underwater. In the 1900's many of the pond sliders were captured for sale. In the 1950's millions of turtles were being farmed and shipped abroad as part of pet trade. The sales of these turtles increased when The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was released. Pond sliders are native to the south-central and southeastern United States and northern Mexico. Has been listed as one of the "Top 100" Worlds Worst Invaders. These turtles often fight with native species for food, habitats, and other resources. Eventually they bully many native species out of basking sites. Basking being areas where there is sunlight and warmth for the species. When basking it is common that pond sliders will bask on birds nests, therefore killing the eggs. They also prey on young birds. Turtles that were raised in captivity can develop diseases that are unfamiliar to native species, which can be harmful. Turtles raised in captivity are often released because they become too much too to handle or grow bigger than expected. It's not uncommon that pond sliders will also run away. Introduced populations of T.s. elegans have been reported from Mexico: feral populations exist throughout the country; parts of the United States (Arizona, California, Hawaiian Islands, northeastern States); Guadeloupe (France): Occurs on Grande Terre and Basse Terre (Iverson 1992, Malhotra and Thorpe 1999); Portugal: widespread, especially in the south; Spain: widespread at low elevations; France: widespread, except in the north; Italy (scattered throughout the country); Slovenia (near Italian border region); Greece (Crete); Austria (Vienna region); Germany; southwestern Switzerland; Netherlands; Turkey; Israel; South Africa; Taiwan; Thailand; Cambodia; Indonesia; and Australia. In Europe it is becoming increasingly abundant, especially in Portugal, Spain and France. Subspecies: Trachemys scripta scripta – Yellow-bellied slider, Atlantic drainages from southern Virginia to northern Florida; Trachemys scripta elegans – Red-eared slider, Alabama to extreme northeastern Mexico, up to Cuatro Cienegas; Trachemys scripta troostii – Cumberland slider, Southwestern Virginia to northeastern Alabama (west of Appalachians). Hybridization between yellow-bellied and red-eared sliders is not uncommon where the ranges of the two subspecies overlap.
Book reference

Taxonomic branch