Animal Information

The Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)

Female Red-Ear Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)

The red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), also known as the red-eared terrapin, is a semiaquatic turtle belonging to the family Emydidae.

This turtle grows 5 to 11 inches long. 

Because of its size and personality, this has been one of the most popular reptiles when it comes to the pet and food trade.

The practice of keeping these turtles has continued since the 1930s, reaching a peak during the 1950s and 60s, the red-eared slider became known as the dime-store turtle. Although this era was the heyday for baby pet turtles when children were encouraged to experiment and students were encouraged to bring their turtles to school, where races were held in the classroom.


Housing Red-Ear Sliders

The general rule of thumb for housing red-eared sliders is for every inch of shell length, you should provide 10 gallons of water. For example, a red-eared slider with a 5-inch shell length should be provided an enclosure containing 50 gallons of water to allow for adequate swimming space.

Creative turtle owners use all sorts of novel housing ideas to meet the roomy requirements of their red-eared sliders using things like pre-formed plastic pond liners to make homes more like indoor ponds.

Red-Ear Sliders can hide their body in the shell for protection

And, if you have an outdoor pond, and a securely fenced yard to keep your turtle in and predators out, you might consider putting your turtle outdoors for at least part of the year. 

To ensure proper health and growth of red-eared sliders, a basking light that provides UVB and UVA rays, to mimic the sun, is required.

Purchase either a commercial turtle basking dock or create your own basking platform onto which your turtle can emerge from the water to soak up the artificial sunlight and dry off.

This subspecies of the pond slider requires temperatures in the basking area to remain between 85 and 90 degrees.

Red-eared sliders can live for more than 20 years!

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The European Union has banned the import of T. s. elegans because of the negative impact that released pets can have on native European pond turtles

This turtle has become established in other places because of pet releases and has become an invasive species in many areas, where it outcompetes native species. The red-eared slider is included in the list of the world’s 100 most invasive species published by the IUCN.

As recently as 2001, a Dutch animal welfare group attempted to ship unwanted pet T. s. elegans to Italy for eventual nonindigenous release into the wild.

Red-eared sliders are listed as a conditional species in Florida. Anyone that possessed a pet red-eared slider before July 1, 2007, can legally keep their turtle and no permit is required. However, Floridians are not allowed to acquire red-eared sliders as personal pets after that date.

Anyone importing or possessing red-eared sliders for research, exhibition, or out of state sale is required to have a Conditional/Prohibited/Nonnatve Species Permit. Crazy Critters has this conditional species listed on their Class III Permit.

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Click here to read more about the Class III Personal Use Permit

Other than checking out your state laws before you bring home a red-eared slider there are a few things to check out to increase the odds that you are bringing home a healthy turtle

States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. .

StateYear of earliest observationYear of last observationTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
Arizona196219972Lower Gila-Painted Rock Reservoir; Lower Salt
California1976201719California; Central Coastal; Coyote; Lower Sacramento; Mattole; Middle Kern-Upper Tehachapi-Grapevine; Russian; Salton Sea; San Diego; San Francisco Coastal South; San Gabriel; San Pablo Bay; Santa Monica Bay; South Fork Kern; Suisun Bay; Tomales-Drake Bays; Upper Cache; Upper Deer-Upper White; Upper Mokelumne
Connecticut198020113New England Region; Saugatuck; Thames
Florida1958201821Big Cypress Swamp; Caloosahatchee; Carolinian; Crystal-Pithlachascotee; Daytona-St. Augustine; Econfina-Steinhatchee; Everglades; Florida Bay-Florida Keys; Florida Southeast Coast; Kissimmee; Lower St. Johns; Lower Suwannee; Oklawaha; Pensacola Bay; Santa Fe; South Atlantic-Gulf Region; Southern Florida; St. Marys; Tampa Bay; Upper St. Johns; Withlacoochee
Georgia201420141Upper Oconee
Guam200420071Guam
Hawaii199620063Hawaii; Kauai; Oahu
Idaho201220163Lower Boise; Palouse; Upper Snake-Rock
Indiana200120183Driftwood; Tippecanoe; Wildcat
Iowa197820133East Nishnabotna; Lower Cedar; Lower Wapsipinicon
Kansas201320131Coon-Pickerel
Maine198719872Lower Kennebec; Presumpscot
Maryland199119981Patuxent
Massachusetts197519935Cape Cod; Charles; Concord; Lower Connecticut; Middle Connecticut
Michigan192419994Detroit; Pere Marquette-White; Raisin; Upper Grand
Minnesota201420147Des Moines Headwaters; Le Sueur; South Fork Crow; Twin Cities; Upper Mississippi-Black-Root; Watonwan; Zumbro
Nebraska198320156Big Papillion-Mosquito; Blackbird-Soldier; Salt; South Fork Big Nemaha; Tarkio-Wolf; Upper Big Blue
Nevada201620161Las Vegas Wash
New Jersey197620187Crosswicks-Neshaminy; Hackensack-Passaic; Lower Delaware; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong; Mullica-Toms; Raritan; Sandy Hook-Staten Island
New Mexico199420003Elephant Butte Reservoir; Rio Grande-Albuquerque; Tularosa Valley
New York199520168Buffalo-Eighteenmile; Hackensack-Passaic; Hudson-Wappinger; Lower Genesee; Lower Hudson; Northern Long Island; Rondout; Southern Long Island
North Carolina198020154Haw; Upper Catawba; Upper Dan; Upper Neuse
Ohio19511999*
Oregon199120086Lost; Lower Willamette; Middle Rogue; Pacific Northwest Region; South Umpqua; Upper Willamette
Pennsylvania1996201810Brandywine-Christina; Crosswicks-Neshaminy; Lehigh; Lower Delaware; Lower Juniata; Lower Susquehanna; Lower Susquehanna-Swatara; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong; Schuylkill; Upper Ohio
Puerto Rico200720074Cibuco-Guajataca; Eastern Puerto Rico; Greater Antilles; Puerto Rican Islands
Rhode Island201420141Narragansett
South Carolina199519951Seneca
Texas200020013Pedernales; Rio Grande-Fort Quitman; Salt Basin
Virginia198020175Hampton Roads; Lynnhaven-Poquoson; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; Pamunkey; Upper Dan
Washington199520135Lake Washington; Lower Columbia-Sandy; Lower Crab; Puget Sound; Snohomish
Wisconsin200520154Coon-Yellow; Des Plaines; Lower Wisconsin; Middle Rock
  • Table last updated 10/4/2018
  • † Populations may not be currently present.
  • * HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).
Female Red-Ear Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)

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