Red-Eared Slider

This common and distinctive turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) carries the dubious distinction of being the most popular pet turtle in the US, and the most traded turtle in the world. Red-eared sliders are native to the southern US, but have popped up pretty much everywhere — Australia, Europe, South Africa, the Carribbean, Israel, Asia, and elsewhere — because of people releasing unwanted pets. This is unfortunate, because as an invasive species they outcompete many native turtles.

Red-eared sliders are named for the red stripe on the sides of their head and for their ability to slide quickly off their resting areas into the water. They are closely related to the yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta), and the two species have been known to hybridize, producing individuals with a mix of markings.

As you can see from the photo above, red-eared sliders are semiaquatic, living primarily in the water but more than able to visit land to regulate their body temperature or move between locations.

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