T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Turtle (Red-eared slider) Trachemys scripta elegans

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Emydidae
Genus: Trachemys
Species: T. scripta
Subspecies: T. s. elegans
Trinomial name: Trachemys scripta elegans
Common names: Red-eared slider, Red-eared terrapin, Red eared slider

Trachemys scripta elegans is a semiaquatic turtle belonging to the family Emydidae. It is the most popular pet turtle in the world. It is native to the southern United States and northern Mexico but has become established in other countries because of pet releases, and has become an invasive species in many areas. The red-eared slider is included in the list of the worlds’ 100 most invasive species published by the IUCN.
Red-eared sliders get their common name from the small red stripe around their ears. The "slider" in their common name comes from their ability to slide off rocks and logs and into the water quickly.

New Zealand banned the importation of Red-eared sliders in 1965, but it is still legal to own and breed reptiles, but it is an offence under the Biosecurity Act 1993 to knowingly release a Red-eared slider turtle into the environment and fines up to $5000 can occur. It is also an offence to sell Red-eared sliders from the wild.

People bought them as small 4 cm pets decades ago, and now they have become 40 cm, adults, they no longer want them and have released them into Auckland’s brackish estuarine waters, rivers, lakes, wetlands, creeks, drainage and ditches. brackish estuarine waters. As a result, Auckland is facing an infestation of this turtle species. As of 2018, this species is also living in the wild in the Manawatu and Waikato.
The impact of Red-eared slider turtles in the wild in New Zealand is largely unknown, but given their omnivorous diet, they could adversely impact aquatic plants, insects, eels, small fish species and ground-nesting birds by preying on eggs and hatchlings.

The adult Red-eared sliders carapace (the upper portion of the shell) lengths range from 15 to 40 cm. This species can live up to 40 years. The colour of the carapace changes depending on the age of the turtle. The carapace usually has a dark green background with light and dark, highly variable markings. In young or recently hatched turtles, it is leaf green and gets slightly darker as a turtle gets older, until it is a very dark green, and then turns a shade between brown and olive green. The plastron (the bottom half of the shell) is always a light yellow with a dark, paired, irregular markings in the centre of most scutes (shell plates). The plastron is highly variable in pattern. The head, legs, and tail are green with fine, irregular, yellow lines. The whole shell is covered in these stripes and markings that aid in camouflaging an individual.

These turtles are poikilotherms (are unable to regulate their body temperatures independently) and hence are completely dependent on the temperature of their environment. They need to sunbathe frequently to warm themselves and maintain their body temperatures.



 

Red-eared sliders get their common name from the small red stripe around their ears. 

A young juvenile.
 

A older juvenile.

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/