An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Red-eared Sliders

8-4-16   red-eared slider 265If you’re of a certain age, you may remember having a small pet turtle (complete with a plastic container and palm tree) when you were young.  Those turtles were Red-eared Sliders, and so many of them were released or escaped into the wild that they are now considered an invasive species and many countries ban their importation.  Even though it is illegal for hatchlings with a top shell length of less than 4 inches (they can reach 16 inches) to be sold for anything other than educational purposes, many pet stores in the U.S. still sell them.  Wild populations can be found in most of the New England states, though they are very localized in some.

Red-eared Sliders are named for the red ear stripe on both sides of their head, and the fact that when basking they typically slide into the water at the slightest hint of danger.  They are semi-aquatic and strong swimmers; when not basking, they can usually be found in the water.   Like many other species of turtles, the sex of Red-eared Sliders is determined by the incubation temperature during critical phases of the embryos’ development. Males are produced when the incubation temperature is between 72° and 81°F. and females develop at warmer temperatures. (Thanks to Sadie Brown for photo op.)

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15 responses

  1. Al

    I was given a baby turtle. Probably when I was about 5 years old, so about 1957. It was found dead in one of my pockets some days later. That might have been a better outcome than had I released it, but it looks like others got released in the Willamette Valley anyway.

    http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=1261

    August 4, 2016 at 8:21 am

  2. Ruth Sylvester

    Where did they come from? i.e. where are they not invasive?
    –Ruth

    August 4, 2016 at 8:59 am

  3. Peggy Timmerman

    What continent did red eared sliders originally come from?

    August 4, 2016 at 9:20 am

  4. Jane Lucas

    On Thursday, August 4, 2016, Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “If you’re of a certain age, you may remember having > a small pet turtle (complete with a plastic container and palm tree) when > you were young. Those turtles were Red-eared Sliders, and so many of them > were released or escaped into the wild that they are n” >

    August 4, 2016 at 9:21 am

  5. Marilyn

    “It is native to the southern United States and northern Mexico…” (Wikipedia)

    August 4, 2016 at 9:31 am

  6. Hi Mary… In all my years exploring the ponds & streams of S. N.E. I have never once seen this turtle in the wild or otherwise. Other than it’s carapace & the distinctive red stripe on the sides of the head, this turtle in it’s current age looks remarkably similar to a painted racing turtle, including it’s water habits, however to the best of my knowledge painted turtles
    never reach 16 inches in length!
    Once again you have surprised me, for as a child growing up I thought I was the ” Turtle King ” of the neighborhood!
    I am curious as to the designs on it’s overhanging undersides of the shell or if it lacks any marks whatsoever.
    Bill…

    August 4, 2016 at 9:35 am

  7. Wallie Hammer

    How ironic- just having a dialogue with the owner of a red eared slider- I care for 4 at the Meigs Pt. Nature Center in CT- one is on public display as an example of an invasive- the other 3 are huge, shells 8 to 9 inches across and still growing kept in another building-local pet store still sells them though I complain every time I go in-

    August 4, 2016 at 9:43 am

  8. I read the Wikipedia on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-eared_slider this invasive specie & I now have a clearer understanding and can see that it is in no way comparable to the painted turtle other than it’s water habits perhaps & sunning itself.
    Great story on this Mary.
    Thanks,
    Bill…

    August 4, 2016 at 10:01 am

  9. I had no idea that they survived the winter here, I always thought they were tropical. Being a Boomer, of course I had one as a kid. I put it in the water tank without anything to hold onto and the poor thing swam itself to exhaustion and drowned. I cried so hard when I found it. No one told me how to take care of it. 😦 I still feel bad about that poor thing 50+ years later – ha!

    August 4, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    • I think we all had similar experiences…hard to imagine enough survived to become an invasive species!

      August 4, 2016 at 10:12 pm

  10. Mary, This has nothing to do with today’s post but I’m curious as to what the 3/16″ long flying insects are that are attracted to the lights and come in through the screens at our lake side NH cabin and which I find lying dead in droves under the lights in the morning. They’ve always been around and I just realized I don’t know what to call them!

    August 6, 2016 at 9:13 am

  11. Eileen Crawford

    My first pet!

    August 7, 2016 at 11:28 am

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