The Red-eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans, formerly known as Chrysemys scripta elegans belongs to the family Emydidae which contains the water turtles and land dwelling box turtles found in North and South America. These turtles have dome-shaped shells and all have some degree of webbing between their toes. The group contains strict carnivores and strict herbivores, as well as, omnivores.
The red-eared turtle was at one time the most commonly sold turtle in the pet trade. As a result, they have become introduced into areas not in their traditional range and in some cases have become an invasive species. They are in the top 100 most invasive species listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
When they are young, these turtles are distinguished by the cherry red patch on the sides of their head near the ear, and by the yellow stripes on the head, legs, and shells. The red patch can vary in size during the life of individual turtles and can even disappear due to increasing production of melanin in the skin. Older turtles can become so dark that the yellow marks on their heads, legs, and shells are obscured making identification difficult.
These turtles can live twenty to thirty years and can grow shell lengths up to and beyond 16 inches. They enjoy fresh-water environments including lakes, swamps, streams, and slow-moving rivers. They are often seen sunbathing on rocks or fallen logs where they can quickly slide into the water to escape danger. They are ominivorus but feed mainly on aquatic plants.
Sometimes, you find them perched in places that make you wonder how they got there.