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 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.)