Red Ear Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
The Red Ear Slider is a semi-aquatic turtle belonging to the family Emydidae. They get their name from the distinctive red patch of skin around their ears. The “slider” part of their name comes from their ability to slide off rocks and logs and into the water quickly. It is a subspecies of pond slider. It is the most popular pet turtle in the United States and in the rest of the world. It is native only to the southern United States and northern Mexico, but has become established in other places because of pet releases and has become an invasive species in many introduced areas, such as California, where it out competes the native western pond turtle.
The female red-eared slider grows to be 10â€“13 inches in length and males 8â€“10 inches. The red stripe on each side of the head distinguishes the red-eared slider from all other North American species. The carapace (top shell) is oval and flattened (especially in the male).
Contrary to the popular misconception, red-eared sliders do not have saliva. They, like most aquatic turtles, have fixed tongues, so they must eat their food in water. They are omnivores and eat a variety of animal and plant materials in the wild including, but not limited to, fish, crayfish, carrion, tadpoles, snails, crickets, mealworms, wax worms, aquatic insects, and numerous aquatic plant species.
Red Ear Turtles lay their eggs between May through early July. A female might lay from two to 30 eggs, with larger females having larger clutches. One female can lay up to five clutches in the same year, and clutches are usually spaced 12 to 36 days apart. Eggs hatch 60 to 90 days after they have been laid. Late-season hatchlings may spend the winter in the nest and emerge when the weather warms in the spring. Just prior to hatching, the egg contains 50% turtle and 50% egg sac. The sex of red-eared sliders is determined by the incubation temperature during critical phases of the embryo\’s development. Only males are produced when eggs are incubated at temperatures of 72â€“81 ° F, whereas females develop at warmer temperatures.
Information courtesy of wikipedia.org/wiki/red_eare_slider, Photo courtesy of cdc.gov