Testudines

Field Guide to Maryland's Turtles (Order Testudines)


Red-eared Slider

Family: Box and Water Turtles (Family Emydidae)

Common Name:

Red-eared Slider


Scientific Name:

Trachemys scripta elegans


Photo of Red-eared Slider courtesy of John White
Photo of Red-eared Slider courtesy of John White


Size:
8 - 13 inches. Record: 15 inches

Appearance:
  • This turtle gets its name from the broad red stripe behind its eye. The stripe may also grade to yellow.
  • Yellow stripes are found along its neck and throat.
  • The carapace (top shell) is oval, slightly domed (not flattened) and may have a weak keel.
  • The carapace is usually a dark green to brown color with variable markings.
  • The rear marginal scutes are notched.
  • The plastron (bottom shell) is yellowish, often with dark markings in the center of each scute, or scale.
  • Males are often smaller than females but will have longer claws.

Photo of Red-eared Slider courtesy of Scott A. Smith
Photo of Red-eared Slider courtesy of Scott A. Smith


Habitats:

Prefers slow warm waters of ponds, lakes, marshes, streams with muddy bottoms, abundant aquatic vegetation and basking rocks and logs.


How to Find:

From March through September, use binoculars to search basking sites of ponds and lakes.
They may also be seen swimming at the surface of water bodies. They get their name from the rapid way they slide off basking sites.

Photo of Habitat for  Red-eared Slider courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
Photo of Habitat for  Red-eared Slider courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers


Distribution in Maryland:

This species is not native to Maryland. It is naturally found in the southern United States and was introduced by people releasing pet turtles into the wild. Currently, they can be found in the north and central parts of the state, as far south as Prince George's County.

Maryland Distribution Map for Red-eared Slider