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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

A small turtle, with carapace length of up to 300 mm. Carapace moderately depressed, slightly elongate, smooth, with a weak mid-dorsal ridge; posterior edge with moderate indentations. Plastron flat. Head moderate, snout elongate. All limbs with 5 claws, partly webbed. Males smaller than females, with long claws on fore-limb and longer tail. Color of carapace and dorsal sides of limbs and head dark green with numerous yellow stripes; a short, broad, red stripe behind each eye. Ventral sides yellow, with a pattern of dark green lines and spots.

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Distribution

Geographic Range

Pond sliders are native to the Nearctic and Neotropical regions. They are found from the southern Great Lakes region east to West Virginia, west to Indiana and Illinois and south throughout most of the southeastern and south-central United States. The range of pond sliders continues through Mexico and Central America to Venezuela in South America. Subspecies in the United states include Trachemys scripta elegans, native to the Mississippi river valley, from Illinois, west to Kansas and Oklahoma, and south to the Gulf of Mexico, T. s. scripta, found from Virginia to northern Florida and Alabama, and T. s. troostii, found from eastern Kentucky to Georgia and Alabama (Conant and Collins 1991).

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

  • Conant, R., J. Collins. 1991. Peterson Field Guides: Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern/Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co..
  • Harding, J. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (200,000 to >2,500,000 square km (about 80,000 to >1,000,000 square miles)) The range extends from Michigan to Argentina, and from the Atlantic coast to New Mexico; it also includes southern Baja California (at least formerly). The species has been introduced and is established in many areas outside the native range, including Florida (Schwartz and Henderson 1991; Ashton and Ashton 1991; Hutchison, 1992, Herpetol. Rev. 23:74-75; Townsend et al., 2002, Herpetol. Rev. 33:75; Ehret and Parker, 2005, Hepretol. Rev. 36:78), Guam (McCoid, 1992, Herpetol. Rev. 23:26), New York (Klemens 1993), and New Mexico (Stuart, 1995, Herpetological Review 26:107). It has been found in California (e.g., Stitt et al., 2004, Herpetol. Rev. 35:187) and Hawaii (McKeown 1996), but establishment is uncertain.

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Geographic Range

Pond sliders are native to the Nearctic and Neotropical regions. They are found from the southern Great Lakes region east to West Virginia, west to Indiana and Illinois and south throughout most of the southeastern and south-central United States. The range of pond sliders continues through Mexico and Central America to Venezuela in South America.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

  • Conant, R., J. Collins. 1991. Peterson Field Guides: Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern/Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co..
  • Harding, J. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
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Distribution in Egypt

According to Saleh (1997) individuals belonging to this species were observed and collected between 1992 and 1997 in the Nile at the Barrages north of Cairo and at Maadi, and in canals in the Giza area. He states that "The species appears to have become locally established at least in the vicinity of Cairo."  This author failed to observe any examples of the species during brief searches at the foregoing locations. It is at least certain that the species is by no means common. It is possible that some of Saleh's (1997) records concerned released individuals that had not become established yet, and do not represent a locally naturalized population. It is perhaps unlikely that this species could become well established, given intensive human utilization of suitable habitats. T. s. elegans is commonly traded in Egypt.

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Global Distribution

Natural range is in eastern North America. A popular pet, introduced to many parts of the world. In the Middle East also in Bahrain and Israel.

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Continent: Middle-America South-America North-America Asia Europe Caribbean Africa
Distribution: scripta: USA (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia) [Rhodin et al. 2010]  elegans: Mexico (Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas), USA (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri,Nebraska, New Mexico [eastern], Ohio, Oklahoma,Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia); Introduced to Australia (New South Wales, Queensland,Victoria), Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belgium,Bermuda, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cambodia,Canada (Ontario), Cayman Islands, Chile, China(Hong Kong), Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic,Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt,France, French Polynesia, Germany, Great Britain,Greece, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guyana, Honduras,Hungary, Indonesia (Java, Kalimantan, Papua,Sulawesi, Sumatra), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan(mainland, Ryukyu Archipelago), Malaysia (East,West), Martinique, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nether-lands, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, NorthernMariana Islands [Saipan], Palau, Panama, Philippines(Cebu, Luzon, Mindanao), Poland, Portugal, PuertoRico, Réunion, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles(Mahé), Singapore, Sint Maarten, Slovakia, Slovenia,South Africa, South Korea, Spain (Balearic Islands,Continental), Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tai-wan, Thailand, Trinidad, USA (Arizona, California,Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii,Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, NewJersey, New Mexico [western], New York, NorthCarolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, SouthCarolina, Virginia, Washington), US Virgin Islands,Vietnam, Japan, Philippine Islands  troosti: USA (NC Tennessee, SE Kentucky, SW Virginia, NW Georgia, NE Alabama);
Type locality: Cumberland River (probaby Tennessee).  USA (Nebraska [HR 30: 108], introduced to Hawaii fide McKeown); Mexico (Baja California, Yucatan, Nuevo Leon), Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Thailand, Singapore, W Malaysia and other parts of Indochina [introduced; fide COX et al. 1998]  Gambia (introduced)  Introduced to the French West Indies (Grande-Terre, Basse-Terre) [Schwartz & Thomas 1975)  Italy (introduced to Sardinia) Spain (introduced fide MALKMUS 2006) France (introduced fide Berroneau et al. 2010) Greece (introduced and breeding on the island of Kos [BRUEKERS et al. 2006], Cyprus [BAIER et al. 2009])
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

There are three subspecies of pond slider in the United States. Trachemys scripta elegans (red-eared slider) gets its name from the broad reddish or orange stripe behind each eye, though some red-eared sliders do not have this streak. Young hatchlings have a green carapace and skin with yellow green to dark green markings and stripes. Color in adults fades to a muted olive green color. Some older individuals (especially males) become melanistic, appearing almost black with few visible markings. The carapace is oval and flattened with a weak keel. The plastron is yellow with dark markings in the center of each scute. Trachemys scripta scripta (yellow-bellied slider) has a yellow blotch behind each eye which may join the neck stripe, but is usually only evident in juveniles and females. Yellow vertical bands mark the carapace, with the underside being yellow with smudges. The plastron is also yellow with dark blotches or smudges. Trachemys scripta troostii (Cumberland turtle) has a narrower orange-yellow stripe behind each eye. It is similar to T. s. elegans, but has fewer and much wider stripes on the legs, neck and head. All the subspecies have webbed feet that aid the turtle in swimming. There is some sexual dimorphism. The male is usually smaller than the female with a much longer, thicker tail. The cloacal opening of the male is beyond the edge of the carapace while the female's opening is usually at or under the rear edge of the carapace. Males have elongated claws that they use in courtship/mating. They range in total length from 12.5 to 28.9 cm.

Range length: 12.5 to 28.9 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes shaped differently

Average mass: 240 g.

Average basal metabolic rate: 0.1157 W.

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Physical Description

There are actually three regional subspecies of pond slider in North America. One subspecies is called the red-eared slider. They get their name from the broad reddish or orange stripe behind each eye, though some red-eared sliders do not have this stripe. Young hatchlings have a green carapace (upper part of their shell) and skin with yellow green to dark green markings and stripes. Carapace color in adults fades to a muted olive green color. Some older individuals (especially males) become very dark, appearing almost black with few visible markings. The carapace is oval and flattened with a weak center ridge (keel). The plastron (the underpart of the shell that covers the belly) is yellow with dark markings in the center of each scute (part of the plastron).

The yellow-bellied slider is another kind of pond slider, they have a yellow blotch behind each eye which may join the neck stripe, but is usually only seen in young and females. Yellow vertical bands mark the carapace, with the underside being yellow with smudges. The plastron is also yellow with dark blotches or smudges.

Cumberland turtles are the third kind of pond slider. They have a narrower orange-yellow stripe behind each eye and have fewer and much wider stripes on the legs, neck, and head. All pond slider subspecies have webbed feet that aid in swimming. Males are usually smaller than females, but have a much longer, thicker tail. Males have long claws that they use in courtship and mating. They range in total length from 12.5 to 28.9 cm.

Range length: 12.5 to 28.9 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes shaped differently

Average mass: 240 g.

Average basal metabolic rate: 0.1157 W.

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Size

Length: 29 cm

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Ecology

Habitat

Marismas Nacionales-San Blas Mangroves Habitat

This taxon is found in the Marismas Nacionales-San Blas mangroves ecoregion contains the most extensive block of mangrove ecosystem along the Pacific coastal zone of Mexico, comprising around 2000 square kilometres. Mangroves in Nayarit are among the most productive systems of northwest Mexico. These mangroves and their associated wetlands also serve as one of the most important winter habitat for birds in the Pacific coastal zone, by serving about eighty percent of the Pacific migratory shore bird populations.

Although the mangroves grow on flat terrain, the seven rivers that feed the mangroves descend from mountains, which belong to the physiographic province of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The climate varies from temperate-dry to sub-humid in the summer, when the region receives most of its rainfall (more than 1000 millimetres /year).

Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans), Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) and White Mangrove trees (Laguncularia racemosa) occur in this ecoregion. In the northern part of the ecoregion near Teacapán the Black Mangrove tree is dominant; however, in the southern part nearer Agua Brava, White Mangrove dominates. Herbaceous vegetation is rare, but other species that can be found in association with mangrove trees are: Ciruelillo (Phyllanthus elsiae), Guiana-chestnut (Pachira aquatica), and Pond Apple (Annona glabra).

There are are a number of reptiles present, which including a important population of Morelet's Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) and American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in the freshwater marshes associated with tropical Cohune Palm (Attalea cohune) forest. Also present in this ecoregion are reptiles such as the Green Iguana (Iguana iguana), Mexican Beaded Lizard (Heloderma horridum) and Yellow Bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta). Four species of endangered sea turtle use the coast of Nayarit for nesting sites including Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas).

A number of mammals are found in the ecoregion, including the Puma (Puma concolor), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Southern Pygmy Mouse (Baiomys musculus), Saussure's Shrew (Sorex saussurei). In addition many bat taxa are found in the ecoregion, including fruit eating species such as the Pygmy Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus phaeotis); Aztec Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus aztecus) and Toltec Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus toltecus); there are also bat representatives from the genus myotis, such as the Long-legged Myotis (Myotis volans) and the Cinnamon Myotis (M. fortidens).

There are more than 252 species of birds, 40 percent of which are migratory, including 12 migratory ducks and approximately 36 endemic birds, including the Bumblebee Hummingbird, (Atthis heloisa) and the Mexican Woodnymph (Thalurania ridgwayi). Bojórquez considers the mangroves of Nayarit and Sinaloa among the areas of highest concentration of migratory birds. This ecoregion also serves as wintering habitat and as refuge from surrounding habitats during harsh climatic conditions for many species, especially birds; this sheltering effect further elevates the conservation value of this habitat.

Some of the many representative avifauna are Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis), Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), sanderling (Calidris alba), American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), Mexican Jacana (Jacana spinosa), Elegant Trogan (Trogan elegans), Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra), White-tailed Hawk (Buteo albicaudatus), Merlin (Falco columbarius), Plain-capped Starthroat (Heliomaster constantii), Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) and Wood Stork (Mycteria americana).

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Panamanian Dry Forests Habitat

This taxon is found in the Panamanian dry forests, but not necessarily limited to this ecoregion. The Panamanian dry forests ecoregion occupies approximately 2000 square miles of coastal and near-coastal areas on the Pacific versant of Panama, around portions of the Gulf of Panama. Plant endemism is intermediate, and vertebrate species richness is quite high in the Panamanian dry forests.This key ecoregion is highly threatened from its extensive ongoing exploitation. Beyond the endemism and species richness, the ecoregion is further significant, since it offers a biological corridor from the moist forests to the coastal mangroves.

Plant endemism is intermediate in value within the Panamanian dry forests, likely elevated due to the (a) isolation of this ecoregion from the surrounding and intervening moist forest habitat; (b) arid conditions which likely enhanced speciation and hence species richness; and (c) absence of prehistoric glaciation, which has extinguished many species in more extreme latitudes.

Many of the plants are well adapted to herbivory defense through such morphologies as spiny exteriors and other features. Forest canopies are typically less than twenty meters, with a few of the highest species exceeding that benchmark. Caesalpinia coriaria is a dominant tree in the Azuero Peninsula portion of the dry forests, while Lozania pittieri is a dominant tree in the forests near Panama City. The vegetative palette is well adapted to the dry season, where water is a precious commodity.

Faunal species richness is high in the Panamanian dry forests, as in much of Mesoamerica, with a total of 519 recorded vertebrates alone within the Panamanian dry forests. Special status reptiles in the Panamanian dry forests include the American  Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), the Lower Risk/Near Threatened Brown Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys annulata), the Lower Risk/Near Threatened Common Caiman (Caiman crocodilus), the Lower Risk/Near Threatened Common Slider (Trachemys scripta), and the Critically Endangered Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea). There are two special status amphibian in the ecoregion: the Critically endangered plantation Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium colymbiphyllum) and the Vulnerable Camron mushroom-tongued salamander (Bolitoglossa lignicolor).

Threatened mammals found in the Panamanian dry forests include the: Endangered Central American Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), the Vulnerable Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), the Near Threatened Handley’s Tailless Bat (Anoura cultrata), the Vulnerable Lemurine Night Monkey (Aotus lemurinus), the Near Threatened Margay (Leopardus wiedii), the Near Threatened Yellow Isthmus Rat (Isthmomys flavidus), the Near Threatened White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari), and the Near Threatened Spectral Bat (Vampyrum spectrum). There are two special status bird species occurring in the ecoregion: the Endangered Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) and the Near Threatened Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi).

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Pond sliders prefer quiet, soft, muddy bottomed waters with suitable basking spots. They are faithful to their home ranges, leaving only to nest or hibernate (Dawson 1998).

Habitat Regions: temperate ; freshwater

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp

Other Habitat Features: riparian

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Comments: Usually in quiet water with abundant aquatic vegetation, soft bottom, and basking sites. Hibernates underwater or in protected places near waterline (Ernst and Barbour 1972). More tolerant of pollution than are most turtles. Eggs are laid in nests dug in soft damp soil in open areas. Nesting area may be on nearest suitable site or far from water (usually the former) (Ernst and Barbour 1972). In Costa Rica, some females briefly enter the sea and nest on Caribbean Sea beaches (upper beach berm usually under cocoplum vegetation; hatchlings probably do not enter the sea (Moll 1994).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
In its native range, Trachemys scripta is an inhabitant of a wide variety of waterbodies, and is most abundant in soft-bottomed shallow habitats with minimal flow, abundant access to sunlight and extensive vegetation. In Mexico, it is primarily a riverine species. In Europe, the species is an opportunistic inhabitant of freshwater habitats, generally in close proximity to human habitation and/or recreation centres.

Trachemys scripta
is omnivorous and consumes a wide variety of plant and animal matter. Males may reach 24 cm carapace length (CL), females 29 cm. Maturity is reached at about 9-11 cm CL and two to five years in males, 15-20 cm CL and five to eight years. Longevity is about 30 years maximum. Generation time is probably around 12-15 years. Females produce 0-3 clutches of 5-20 eggs per year. Incubation takes 60-91 days. Hatchlings measure 23-35 mm (Thomas 2006, Ernst and Lovich 2009)

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Pond sliders prefer quiet, muddy bottomed, permanent waters with good places to sit in the sun (places to bask) and plentiful aquatic vegetation. They are usually found only in a single area except when they go onto land to nest or when they burrow into the lake or river bottom to hibernate.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; freshwater

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp

Other Habitat Features: riparian

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Freshwater habitats including rivers, canals, and ponds.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Rarely may migrate 350 m or more between water and nest site (see Ernst and Barbour 1972). Female exhibit strong fidelity to previously used nesting area (Tucker 2001).

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Young pond sliders tend to be more carnivorous than adults, eating about 70% animal matter and 30% plant matter. Adults eat 90% plant matter and 10% animal matter (Wilke 1979). Foods include aquatic insects, snails, tadpoles, crawfish, fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. They also eat plants like arrowhead, water lilies, hyacinths, and duck weed. Feeding occurs under water, usually in the early morning or late afternoon (Smither 1998).

Animal Foods: amphibians; fish; insects; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans

Plant Foods: leaves; macroalgae

Primary Diet: omnivore

  • Wilke, H. 1979. Turtles. Munich, West Germany: Grafe & Unzer GmbH.
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Comments: Adults feed opportunistically on various plants and animals. Juveniles eat mainly small aquatic animals. In Louisiana, plant material became more frequent in diet with increasing turtle size (Hart 1983).

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Food Habits

Young pond sliders tend to be more carnivorous than adults, eating about 70% animal matter and 30% plant matter. Adults eat 90% plant matter and 10% animal matter. Foods include aquatic Insecta, Gastropoda, Amphibia, Malacostraca, and Actinopterygii. They also eat plants like arrowhead, water lilies, hyacinths, and duck weed. Feeding occurs under water, usually in the early morning or late afternoon.

Animal Foods: amphibians; fish; insects; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans

Plant Foods: leaves; macroalgae

  • Wilke, H. 1979. Turtles. Munich, West Germany: Grafe & Unzer GmbH.
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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Pond sliders help to control populations of the animals that they consume and affect aquatic vegetation as they graze. Young pond sliders are an important food source for large, aquatic predators.

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Predation

Pond slider eggs and hatchlings are preyed on by raccoons, skunks, opossums, foxes, and other predators. They are relatively safe from most predators once they reach adult size and while they are in the water. Large predatory fish seem to find the hatchlings difficult to handle and do not tend to eat them. Red-eared sliders may attempt to bite and scratch when harassed, but most pull their head and legs into their shells for protection.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Ecosystem Roles

Pond sliders help to control populations of the animals that they consume and affect aquatic vegetation as they graze. Young pond sliders are an important food source for large, aquatic predators.

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Predation

Pond slider eggs and hatchlings are preyed on by Procyon lotor, Mephitis mephitis, Didelphis virginiana, Vulpes vulpes, and other predators. They are relatively safe from most predators once they reach adult size and while they are in the water. Large predatory Actinopterygii seem to find the hatchlings difficult to handle and do not tend to eat them. Red-eared sliders may attempt to bite and scratch when harassed, but most pull their head and legs into their shells for protection.

Known Predators:

  • raccoons (Procyon_lotor)
  • striped skunks (Mephitis_mephitis)
  • Virginia opossums (Didelphis_virginiana)
  • red foxes (Vulpes_vulpes)

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Known predators

Trachemys scripta is prey of:
Didelphis virginiana
Mephitis mephitis
Procyon lotor
Vulpes vulpes

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Known prey organisms

Trachemys scripta preys on:
non-insect arthropods

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300

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Global Abundance

>1,000,000 individuals

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General Ecology

Most of 1006 turtles marked and released in Illinois were recaptured within 0.8 km of release point (see Ernst and Barbour 1972). Movements exceeding 2 km are known. In South Carolina, a metapopulation encompassed habitats 3.5 km from a core area (10-ha wetland) (Burke et al. 1995).

Some populations exhibit significantly faster growth rate and larger adult body size than others.

Nest survivorship in Panama was 0.03. In South Carolina, annual first-year survivorship (from egg laying) averaged 0.11 (range 0.01-0.28) over 5 years; annual survivorship was 0.84 for adult males, 0.77 for adult females (Frazer et al. 1990).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Pond sliders communicate with touch and vibrations. They also have a good sense of vision.

Communication Channels: tactile

Other Communication Modes: vibrations

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; vibrations ; chemical

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Communication and Perception

Pond sliders communicate with touch and vibrations. They also have a good sense of vision.

Communication Channels: tactile

Other Communication Modes: vibrations

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; vibrations ; chemical

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Behaviour

Aquatic and diurnal turtle.

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Cyclicity

Comments: Primarily diurnal. Generally inactive in winter in north but mild weather may stimulate emergence (Ernst and Barbour 1972).

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Life Cycle

Development

Pond slider eggs that are incubated at temperatures between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius become only males, while eggs that are incubated at warmer temperatures become females. Baby sliders come out of the egg looking like small adults.

Development - Life Cycle: temperature sex determination

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Development

Pond slider eggs that are incubated at temperatures between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius become only males, while eggs that are incubated at warmer temperatures become females. Baby sliders come out of the egg looking like small adults.

Development - Life Cycle: temperature sex determination

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Like most turtles, pond sliders can live for a long time. They have been known to live for 42 years in the wild, though most don't live past 30 years. Most red-eared sliders probably die when they are hatchlings. From 7 to 10 out of every 10 eggs and hatchlings will die before their first year.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
42 (high) years.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
30 (high) years.

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Lifespan/Longevity

Like most turtles, pond sliders can live for a long time. They have been known to live for 42 years in the wild, though most don't live past 30 years. Most red-eared sliders probably die when they are hatchlings. From 7 to 10 out of every 10 eggs and hatchlings will die before their first year.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
42 (high) years.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
30 (high) years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 41.3 years (captivity) Observations: In the wild these animals live up to 30 years. Studies in the wild failed to find any increase in mortality with age (Castanet 1994).
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Reproduction

Male pond sliders have a unique courtship dance that they engage in anywhere between the months of March and July. Males will approach a female from the front, stretch out their front feet and vibrate their long claws on the female's head and neck. Some may even bite the female. The female usually continues to swim forward while the male does this and, if receptive, will eventually stop and sink to the bottom. The male will then grip the female's carapace with all four claws and arrange himself on top of her. He will then bend his tail under hers, let go of his front arms, and take an almost vertical position. From this position mating occurs, and lasts about 15 minutes.

Mating System: polygynous

Maturity occurs in males at 3 to 5 years of age, when they are about 4 inches long; females at 5 to 7 years and 6 to 7.5 inches in length (Dawson 1998). Most nesting occurs from May to July. A female may have 1 to 3 clutches in a season, with second clutches laid in July or August. Females will often travel some distance to find a suitable nesting site. Nests are dug in the soil with the female's back feet. Four to 23 eggs are laid in the 2 to 4 inch deep hole and then covered with the displaced soil. It takes 2 to 2.5 months for young to hatch and they do so using their "egg tooth" (caruncle) which disappears soon after hatching. Hatching occurs between July and September. If hatching occurs in the late fall, the young may overwinter in the nest and emerge the following spring. Pond sliders grow quickly at first, reaching about 2 inches within the first year, but growth slows as they get older.

Breeding interval: A female may have 1 to 3 clutches in a season, with second clutches laid in July or August.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from March through July.

Range number of offspring: 4 to 23.

Range gestation period: 85 (high) days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 5 to 7 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 3 to 5 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Average number of offspring: 13.

Female pond sliders choose safe nesting sites for their eggs. Once they lay the eggs they leave the nest and there is no further parental care.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female)

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In the U.S., eggs are laid from mid-March to August, with the earliest nesting occurring in the southern states. Nests from January to March near Tortuguero, Costa Rica (Moll 1994). In South Carolina, mean clutch size was 6.3 (range 1-6); nesting females produced an average of 1.1 clutches/year (usually 1 clutch, rarely as many as 3); successive clutches generally were separated by an interval of about 1 month; females matured at age 7 years (Frazer et al. 1990). In Illinois, females produced an estimated 2-3 clutches per year, and most adult females evidently nested in successive years (Tucker 2001). In the U.S., eggs hatch in summer or early fall; hatchlings may commonly overwinter in nest (Jackson 1994). In Costa Rica, hatchlings from sea beach nests emerged by May and June (Moll 1994). In South Carolina, the mean proportion of adult females nesting in any given year was 0.37 (Frazer et al. 1990). See Tucker et al. (1995, Herpetologica 51:354-358) for information on annual variation in individual growth rates.

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Male pond sliders approach females during the mating season, between March and July and perform a courtship dance. They face a female, stretch out their front feet, and vibrate their long claws on the female's head and neck. If receptive the female will sink to the bottom of the pond for mating.

Mating System: polygynous

Most nesting occurs from May to July. Females will often travel some distance to find a suitable nesting site. Nests are dug in the soil with the female's back feet. Females lay from 4 to 23 eggs in the 2-4 inch deep hole and then cover the eggs with soil. It takes 2 to 2.5 months for young to hatch. They do so using their "egg tooth" (caruncle), a sharp feature on their nose that helps them cut open the leathery shell of the egg. The caruncle disappears soon after hatching. Hatching occurs between July and September. If hatching occurs in the late fall, the young may stay in the nest all winter and emerge the following spring. Red-eared sliders grow quickly at first, reaching about 2 inches within the first year, but growth slows as they get older.

Males become adults at 3 to 5 years of age, when they are about 4 inches long; females become adults at 5 to 7 years old, when they are 6 to 7.5 inches in length.

Breeding interval: A female may have 1 to 3 clutches in a season, with second clutches laid in July or August.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from March through July.

Range number of offspring: 4 to 23.

Range gestation period: 85 (high) days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 5 to 7 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 3 to 5 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Average number of offspring: 13.

Female pond sliders choose safe nesting sites for their eggs. Once they lay the eggs they leave the nest and there is no further parental care.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Trachemys scripta

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 3 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ACCCGCTGATTTTTCTCTACTAATCATAAAGACATTGGCACTTTATACTTAATTTTTGGGGCCTGGGCAGGAATAGTAGGCACAGCATTA---AGTTTATTGATCCGCGCAGAATTAAGCCAACCTGGGGCCCTTTTAGGGGAT---GACCAAATCTACAATGTTGTCGTCACAGCCCATGCTTTCATTATAATTTTCTTCATAGTTATACCAATTATAATTGGCGGGTTTGGGAACTGACTCGTGCCATTAATA---ATTGGAGCGCCAGACATGGCATTTCCACGTATAAACAATATAAGTTTTTGGCTTTTACCCCCTTCATTATTATTACTCCTAGCATCATCAGGAATTGAAGCAGGCACAGGCACAGGCTGAACTGTATACCCCCCATTAGCCGGAAATTTAGCCCACGCCGGTGCCTCTGTAGACCTG---ACTATCTTTTCTCTTCATTTAGCAGGAGTATCTTCAATTCTAGGAGCTATTAACTTCATTACCACAGCAATTAACATAAAATCCCCAGCCATGTCACAATACCAAACACCCCTATTTGTGTGATCAGTACTTATTACAGCTGTCCTATTATTACTATCGCTACCAGTCCTAGCTGCA---GGCATCACTATACTATTAACAGACCGAAACCTAAATACAACTTTCTTTGACCCTTCAGGAGGGGGAGACCCAATCTTATACCAACACTTATTCTGATTCTTTGGCCATCCTGAAGTATATATCCTAATCCTACCAGGATTTGGCATAATCTCCCATGTAGTCACCTATTACGCTGGCAAAAAA---GAACCCTTTGGCTATATAGGAATAGTTTGAGCGATAATATCTATTGGATTTTTAGGCTTCATCGTGTGAGCCCACCACATATTTACCGTTGGGATAGACGTAGACACCCGAGCCTATTTTACATCTGCAACAATAATTATCGCTATTCCAACAGGAGTAAAAGTATTCAGCTGATTA---GCTACCCTGCACGGCGGA---ATAGTCAAATGAGATGCCCCTATACTATGAGCCCTTGGTTTCATCTTCCTCTTTACTATCGGAGGGCTAACAGGCATCGTACTAGCCAACTCATCCTTAGACATTGTACTACATGATACTTATTATGTAGTGGCACATTTCCACTATGTC---CTATCAATAGGGGCTGTATTCGCTATTATAGCAGGATTTACCCACTGATTCCCACTTTTCACAGGATACTCACTGCACCAAACTTGAACAAAAGTACACTTTGGGGTAATATTTGCAGGAGTAAACATAACCTTTTTCCCCCAACATTTCCTAGGCCTTGCTGGAATGCCACGA---CGTTACTCCGACTATCCAGACGCATACACT---CTATGAAATTCTATTTCATCAATCGGATCCTTAATTTCCCTAGTAGCAGTAATTATAATAATATATATTATCTGAGAAGCATTCTCCTCAAAGCGAAAAGTT---ATAAAAGCTGAACTCACAACCACCAAT
-- end --

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Trachemys scripta

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Pond sliders, especially red-eared sliders (T. s. elegans), have been heavily collected for the pet trade and are sold by the millions in pet shops across the world. Because of unsanitary conditions and a lack of knowledge on turtle care, few survive for long in captivity. U.S. government regulations now require turtles to be at least 4 inches in length before they can be sold as pets in the USA. However, many hatchlings are still produced commercially for export to Europe, Mexico, and Japan where they are popular as pets (Smither 1998). [Commercial turtle farms rarely qualify as "closed systems," and farm breeding stock is often augmented by the capture of wild turtles.] In recent years, numbers of adult sliders and related turtle species have been trapped for the food trade; many have been exported to Asia. Native slider populations are declining due to habitat destruction and pollution as well as overharvest. However, because of the release of unwanted pets, sliders have established populations outside of their native range. They have been found in California, France, South Africa, Bahrain, Japan, South Korea, Guam, and Thailand. These introduced populations may have some effect on native fauna and species, but to date there is little evidence supporting this. The biggest threat to sliders is Man. Not only are they exploited for the pet and food trade, but slider eggs are also used as fish bait. Sliders are often killed on roads by automobiles, and are sometimes persecuted by fishermen who mistakenly consider the turtles to be fish eaters.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: lower risk - near threatened

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly to moderately vulnerable.

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2011

Assessor/s
van Dijk, P.P., Harding, J. & Hammerson, G.A.

Reviewer/s
Horne, B.D., Mittermeier, R.A., Philippen, H.-D., Quinn, H.R., Rhodin, A.G.J., Shaffer, H.B. & Vogt, R.C

Contributor/s
Corti, C., Lymberakis, P., Cheylan, M., Hammerson, G.A., Geniez, P., Pérez Mellado, V., Lavin, P. & Mendoza-Quijano, F.

Justification
Trachemys scripta is assessed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a broad range of habitats, and large population.

History
  • 1996
    Lower Risk/near threatened
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
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Red-eared sliders have been heavily collected for the pet trade and are sold by the millions in pet shops across the world. Because of unsanitary conditions and a lack of knowledge on turtle care, few survive for long in captivity. U.S. government regulations now require turtles to be at least 4 inches in length before they can be sold as pets in the United States. However, many hatchlings are still produced commercially for export to Europe, Mexico, and Japan where they are popular as pets. These operations often use wild-caught turtles as well. In recent years, numbers of adult sliders and related turtle species have been trapped for the food trade; many have been exported to Asia. Native slider populations are declining due to habitat destruction and pollution as well as overharvest. Pond slider eggs are used as fish bait and fishermen sometimes persecute them, mistakenly assuming that they eat fish. Another major source of pond slider death is being hit by cars on roads as they migrate between waterways.

Because of the release of unwanted pets, sliders have established populations outside of their native range. They have been found in California, France, South Africa, Bahrain, Japan, South Korea, Guam, and Thailand. These introduced populations may have some effect on native fauna and species, but to date there is little evidence supporting this.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: lower risk - near threatened

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Status in Egypt

Population, if at all established, seems very small. An alien species, with no conservation importance in Egypt. Its impact on other biological components in the local envi­ronment should be monitored.

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Least Concern

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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Global Long Term Trend: Increase of 10-25% to decline of 30%

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Population

Population
United States: A widespread species that is common in its native range, and has established populations beyond its native range.

Mexico: locally common within its native range, and has established feral populations throughout the country.

In Europe it is becoming increasingly abundant, especially in Portugal, Spain and France.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Degree of Threat: Medium

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Major Threats

Individuals and populations of Trachemys scripta can be under varying levels of impact from habitat degradation and loss, road mortality, pollution (particularly pesticides and heavy metals), and collection. These threats collectively are not perceived to endanger the survival of the species.

Populations in Europe are in places considered to represent a threat to local turtle species (through competition) and the ecosystem in general (competition, predation). Trachemys scripta elegans is included in the IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group's 100 Worst Invasives List.

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Management

Global Protection: Very many (>40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions

Trachemys scripta is subject to a variety of State legislation and regulations. The species occurs in a substantial number of protected areas. European populations are either tolerated or their elimination is desired. The European Union has banned the import of T.s. elegans on the basis of of it being an invasive species, but other subspecies are being imported instead.

Awareness of the responsibilities of acquiring the species as a pet is needed, as are appropriate disposal options for unwanted pets and captured feral animals. Surveys, monitoring and research on the spread and ecological effects of feral populations is warranted.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

The establishment of this species outside its natural range (see comments below) may be harmful to native turtle species, but evidence for this supposed competition is presently lacking or anecdotal.

Wild slider turtles in natural habitats are essentially harmless to human interests. When kept captive under unsanitary or stressful conditions or when fed contaminated foodstuffs, this species can become a carrier of certain strains of Salmonella bacteria capable of causing illness in humans.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease)

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Pond sliders fill an important niche in their wetland habitats, and are appealing to most people. Pond sliders have unfortunately been heavily exploited by humans for both the commercial pet trade and for food purposes.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food

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Economic Uses

Comments: In the early 1990s, hundreds of thousands were being exported annually to Europe to supply the pet trade.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

The establishment of red-eared sliders outside their natural range may be harmful to native turtle species.

Red-eared sliders in natural habitats are essentially harmless to human interests. When kept captive under unsanitary or stressful conditions or when fed contaminated foods, they can become a carrier of certain strains of Salmonella bacteria capable of causing illness in humans.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease)

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Pond sliders fill an important niche in their wetland habitats, and are appealing to most people. Pond sliders have unfortunately been heavily exploited by humans for both the commercial pet trade and for food purposes.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food

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Risks

Species Impact: Introduced populations in Europe may be having a negative impact on populations of native turtle species (Simons, 1994, New York Times, 5 July, p. C4).

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Wikipedia

Pond slider

The pond slider (Trachemys scripta) is a common, medium-sized semi-aquatic turtle. There are three subspecies of sliders.[2] The most recognizable subspecies is the red-eared slider (T. s. elegans), which is popular in the pet trade. This subspecies has been introduced to other parts of the world by people releasing it to the wild. Slider hatchlings have a green shell (carapace) and skin with yellow green and dark green striped markings. Markings and colors fade in adults to a muted olive green color. Some individuals become almost black with few visible markings. The carapace is oval and flattened. The underside of the shell is yellow with dark markings in the center of each scute.

Distribution[edit]

The pond sliders are native to the US and Mexico

Subspecies[edit]

Hybrid[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (1996). "Trachemys scripta". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved March 4, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Rhodin 2010, p. 000.103
  3. ^ Fritz 2007, pp. 207-208
  4. ^ Trachemys scripta elegans X Trachemys scripta scripta Project Noah
Bibliography
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Formerly included in the genus Pseudemys, and sometimes has been placed in the genus Chrysemys. Seidel (2002) reviewed the extant species and subspecies of Trachemys and concluded that 15 species should be recognized. See also Ward (1984) and Seidel and Smith (1986).

Trachemys scripta formerly included T. gaigeae and T. gaigeae hartwegi as subspecies.

See Jackson (1988) for review of fossil record in relation to taxonomic status of Trachemys.

MtDNA data reveal two lineages with a strong geographic orientation generally consistent with decribed subspecies ranges, though two individuals with the western haplotype A were observed in the Atlantic coastal plain (Walker and Avise 1998).

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