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Cumberland slider

(Trachemys scripta troostii)


This is a large freshwater turtle that reaches a length of 11.4 inches. The carapace (upper shell) is oval, weakly keeled, and olive to brown with a thin yellow stripe in each pleural (costal) scutes. There may be short yellow bars on the top of the marginal scutes and a black spot on the bottom of the marginals. The plastron (lower shell) is often yellow with dark donut-shaped (ocellus) marks in several or all scutes. These marks can also appear to be smudges or spots, or the plastron can be unmarked. The skin is greenish to olive brown with yellow stripes. The front legs have multiple yellow stripes with the bottom stripe being the broadest. There is a yellow or orange-red stripe behind each eye, which may be faded in older adults. Many older males will melanize (turn black) and lose their characteristic pattern. Breeding takes place from March to early June. The nests may be constructed large distances from the water. The female usually lays between 5-18 eggs. This turtle is a communal basker. It usually basks on logs and rocks protruding out of the water and may bask with other species, such as Northern Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica). In colder weather, this turtle goes underwater and hibernates in the mud. It may also use muskrat holes and hollow stumps to hibernate.


This species has been confirmed from one location in the North Fork of the Holston River, Scott County. It is found throughout the Mississippi drainage, the Tennessee River drainage, and southeastern U.S. This species prefers quiet waters with muddy bottoms. Areas with a profusion of aquatic vegetation, organic substrate, and overhanging basking spots are especially favored.


This turtle is omnivorous as an adult, but primarily carnivorous as a juvenile. The adult eats algae, seeds, plants, aquatic vegetation, tadpoles, small fish, insects, crayfish, worms, and mollusks.