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Red-Eared Slider

Trachemys scripta elegans

Regulatory Status

Red-eared sliders are a Conditional species in Florida. Conditional species may be imported and possessed by permitted entities for research, commercial import/export business or public educational exhibition.

Uniquely, red-eared sliders may also be kept as pets with the proper permit. Albino and amelanistic red-eared sliders may be possessed as pets without a permit.

Individuals may apply for a Conditional/Prohibited/Nonnative Species Permit to possess red-eared sliders as personal pets. 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. Outdoor enclosures will require an inspection by an FWC Captive Wildlife officer. Any red-eared slider eggs must be destroyed on a daily basis. 

Permit applications may be submitted by email to or by mail to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Wildlife Impact Management Section, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600.


Red-eared sliders are medium-sized, freshwater turtles. Typically, they can be identified by the thick red stripe behind each eye. Their top shell and skin are olive to brown in color with yellow stripes. Their bottom shell is typically yellow with varying amounts of black markings.

Adult red-eared sliders typically range from 4-10 inches in shell length and can live up to 40 years in captivity. Older, male red-eared sliders may become more melanistic with age, losing their characteristic red-stripe over time. 


Red-eared sliders are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters. They feed on a variety of invertebrates, small fish, carrion, plants and algae (Thomas 2006, Ernst Lovich 2009, Aresco 2010). Juvenile red-eared sliders tend to be more carnivorous but incorporate more vegetation into their diet as they age.

Native Range

The red-eared slider is native to the Mississippi River drainages, but have been introduced via the pet trade to every state, except Alaska. A subspecies, the yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta), occurs naturally in north Florida. 

Red-eared sliders occupy a variety of natural and manmade freshwater habitats. They can be found in freshwater ponds, rivers, lakes, streams, and marshes as well as manmade freshwater structures like canals, ditches, and park lakes and ponds.

Potential Impacts

Red-Eared sliders are invasive to Florida and threaten native turtle diversity by outcompeting native turtles for food, basking spots, and other natural resources, potentially transmitting parasites and diseases, hybridizing and compromising the genetic integrity of the native yellow-bellied slider populations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I find a red-eared slider in the wild?

Animals taken from the wild do not make good pets. If you happen to come across a red-eared slider in the wild, we ask that you leave the animal alone. 

What do I do if I have a pet red-eared slider that I can no longer care for? 

If you are looking to rehome your pet red-eared slider, you can fill out a Request to Rehome form with the Exotic Pet Amnesty Program.

Who can I rehome my red-eared slider to?

Red-eared sliders can only be rehomed to permitted individuals. See our nonnative permitting page for more information. 

How can I become a permitted red-eared slider owner?

Visit our nonnative permitting page to learn more about Conditional species permitting.