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Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) are family Emydidae turtles who live in North America, where they originated. Not only are they frequently seen out in the wild, they're also common pets. The midsize reptiles are a pond slider (Trachemys scripta) subspecies.
Type of Water
As far as water goes, red-eared sliders are freshwater creatures. They reside in a variety of freshwater habitats, including streams, creeks and ponds. While they can manage living in the bulk of freshwater settings, they tend to favor calm and still waters that feature plentiful plants and many basking spots. They also appreciate water with soft and boggy floors. It isn't uncommon to spot red-eared sliders in the sluggish and calm parts of sizable rivers, as well. They tend to steer clear of swifter parts of water. Although they're freshwater turtles, they can occasionally handle some brackish waters, too.
Waters Around the World
North America is the homeland of red-eared sliders. They're seen in waters of many different parts of the continent, including in West Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, Texas, Ohio and Kansas. Some of them even live in the Gulf of Mexico. While red-eared sliders come from North America, they've also been brought to other parts of the planet, where they live and thrive. They reside on all continents bar Antarctica. In Australia, for example, they're prevalent in the state of Queensland's southeastern region. They have reputations as being invasive pests Down Under, battling it out with local fauna over both room and sustenance. Outside of Australia, they're also seen in Japan, South Africa, Panama, Vietnam, Italy, France and the Czech Republic, to start.
Why They Live Around the World
Red-eared sliders' global presence is a result of a couple of different components. They arrive in non-native locales both as food and pets. They sometimes are brought to Asia for sale in grocery stores, for example. Some owners of red-eared sliders free them into nearby creeks and channels because of their occasional fierce behaviors. When they escape, and some of the escapees breed, they sometimes populate their new geographic locations. As invasive animals, red-eared sliders interfere with local species. They can prey on the existing species, monopolize food resources and sometimes even transmit diseases to them. Outside of Australia, nonnative populations are problematic in many areas internationally, from Bermuda to China.
Spotting Red-Eared Sliders
If you are ever by a freshwater environment, you just might spot one of these omnivorous residents. Their shells are usually deep green in coloration, with oval outlines. Red-eared sliders occasionally achieve lengths of a maximum of 12 inches or so. They typically weigh in the ballpark of 1.3 pounds and 3.3 pounds. As their subspecies name expresses, they possess conspicuous vivid crimson markings directly in back of both of their ears. The markings are sometimes more orange than red. Red-eared sliders' front limbs and heads feature light yellow streaks.
Captive Red-Eared Sliders
If you keep red-eared sliders as pets, you should always make sure to keep their water at an appropriate temperature. Youthful and mature specimens alike generally do well in temperatures between 72 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Since basking is important to them, it's your job to ensure they're equipped with suitable basking sites, too. They need to always have places to dry themselves fully.
- Queensland Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry: Red-eared Slider Turtle
- Perth Zoo: Red-Eared Slider
- Toronto Zoo: Red-Eared Slider
- Environmental Laboratory: Red-Eared Slider
- Alberta Turtle & Tortoise Society: Red-Eared Slider Information
- National Park Service Santa Monica Mountains: Red-Eared Slider
- ReptileChannel.com: Red-Eared Slider Turtle Information and Care
- Texas Parks & Wildlife: Red-Eared Slider
- Government of Western Australia Department of Agriculture and Food: Animal Pest Alert - Red-Eared Slider
- Hamilton Zoo: Red-Eared Slider
- Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images