Red-eared Slider

Order:  Testudines (turtles)
Suborder:  Cryptodira (all turtles besides side-necked turtles)
Family:  Emydidae (semiaquatic turtles)
Subfamily:  Deirochelyinae (sliders and map turtles)
Genus:  Trachemys (sliders)
Also known as:  Redear, Red-eared Turtle, Red-eared Pond Slider

Scientific Name:  Trachemys scripta elegans (Wied, 1838)

Habitat:  Ponds, lakes, and other slow-moving bodies of water.

Trachys="rough," emys="turtle," scripta="marked," elegans="elegant"

Length: Shell to almost 12 inches for females.  Males are usually much smaller. Previous Scientific Names:  Pseudemys scripta elegans, Chrysemys scripta elegans
Food:  Young are omnivorous; adults typically eat mostly plant material. Red-eared Slider Range

I saw this cute baby red-eared slider at Aquarena Center in San Marcos on 27 May 2003.  It was eating some of the aquatic vegetation growing out of control in the spring-fed lake.  The turtle wasn't much bigger than a silver dollar.  The picture is a little blurry due to my vantage point--about 20 feet above the turtle on a walkway.

The read "ears" are a popular feature; millions of these turtles have been sold as pets (though in the US it's now illegal to sell turtles under 4 inches in length except for educational purposes).  Young turtles are typically the most colorful.  Older specimens tend to fade with age, and some old males become nearly black.  Additionally, the older turtles often develop algae on their carapaces which obscures any residual markings.

Sliders are probably the most abundant turtle in the United States.  They originated in the southeast, but have been introduced nationwide and also to Europe.  The map shown here is a little more of a historical range (besides Hawai'i, of course).  I've seen them in Washington State as well (obviously introduced).

Baby Red-eared Slider
See also the sliders in Arkansas.