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Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)


A picture of a Red eared slider

Possession: Red eared sliders are a Conditional species in Florida (68-5.002, Florida Administrative Code). Individuals may apply for a Conditional/Prohibited/Nonnative Species Permit to possess red-eared sliders as personal pets.

Caging information: Individuals must have adequate indoor tanks or outdoor enclosures that are fully enclosed by a barrier secured at least 6 inches below ground and that will prevent escape of turtles by digging, climbing or crawling through gaps. Any red-eared slider eggs must be destroyed on a daily basis. Albino and amelanistic red-eared sliders may be possessed as pets without a permit.

First year: Unknown

Established status: Populations are confirmed breeding and apparently have been self-sustaining for 10 or more consecutive years.

Estimated Florida range: Six counties for at least 10 years, two counties for less than 10 years, and two counties that are not reporting breeding

Statewide trend: Expanding

Habitats: Freshwater lakes, rivers, and stream

Species Account

The red-eared slider is native to the Mississippi River drainages. A subspecies, the yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta), occurs naturally in north Florida. The red-eared slider is the little green turtle that has been sold by the hundreds of millions in dime stores and pet shops throughout the United States, and it is the most commonly exported reptile species, with over 52 million being exported from the United Stages from 1989 through 1997 (Franke and Telecky 2001). As a result, this adaptable species has become established in many areas of the world, including Europe and Japan, where they compete with native turtle species and prey upon fish (summarized by Franke and Telecky 2001). Reproducing populations are present in Florida, and they breed with yellow-bellied sliders in north Florida. Adults may reach a length of 30.5 cm (12 in). Mature males have elongate front claws and may be patternless and almost black colored. Hatchlings are green with numerous lighter and darker lines. The face and limbs are green with numerous yellow stripes, and a broad red stripe is present in the "ear" region. As they age, their color and pattern dulls (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999).

Threats to Native Species

Red-eared slider populations can rival that of the native Florida redbelly turtle (Pseudemys nelsoni) in urban South Florida man-made ponds (Witzell 1999).


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Bancroft, G. T., J. S. Godley, D. T. Gross, N. N. Rojas, D. A. Sutphen and R. W. McDiarmid. 1983. Large-scale operations management test of use of the white amur for control of problem aquatic plants. The herpetofauna of Lake Conway: species accounts. Final report. Miscellaneous Paper A-83-5, U.S. Army Engineers Waterways Experiment Station, CE, Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA. 304pp.

Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999. A field guide to Florida reptiles and amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas. 278pp.

Butterfield, B. P., W. E. Meshaka, Jr., and J. B. Hauge. 1994a. Two turtles new to the Florida Keys. Herpetological Review 25:81.

Franke, J., and T. M. Telecky. 2001. Reptiles as pets: an examination of the trade in live reptiles in the United States. The Humane Society of the United States, Washington, D.C. 146pp.

Hutchison, A. M. 1992. A reproducing population of Trachemys scripta elegans in southern Pinellas County, Florida. Herpetological Review 23:74-75.

Johnson, G. R., and J. Johnson. 2003. Geographic distribution: Trachemys scripta elegans (red-eared slider). Herpetological Review 34:164.

King, F. W., and T. Krakauer. 1966. The exotic herpetofauna of southeast Florida. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences 29:144-154.

Wilson, L. D., and L. Porras. 1983. The ecological impact of man on the south Florida herpetofauna. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Special Publication No. 9. 89pp.

Witzell, W. N. 1999. Aquatic turtles (Testudines: Emydidae) in an urban south Florida man-made pond. Florida Scientist 62:172-174.