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red-eared slider

Fact File

Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta elegans

Classification: Reptilia, Order Testudines, Family Emydidae

Identifying Characteristics

This is a freshwater turtle ranging between 5-8 inches (record=11-3/8 in). The most distinguishing characteristic for this species is an elongated, broad red stripe behind the eyes. This is fainter in females and may be completely obscured in hatchlings. The carapace (upper shell) is a yellowish-green with yellow stripes running vertically down the pleural scutes. They also have black blotches on the plastron (lower shell) and horizontal yellow stripes on the rear of the thighs. The males of this species are subject to melanism which turns the entire turtle black as it ages. Mating will occur in any season but summer. Nesting probably occurs April-July. Sliders in general are frequent baskers who pile on top of each other if “hauling out” sites are few. They are very wary and will slide into the water at the slightest provacation.


Established populations of T.s. elegans are known in several areas of Virginia, especially near the larger urban areas of Fairfax and Richmond. No natural populations have been found north of the York-James peninsula.

Last updated: August 18, 2023

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Species Profile Database serves as a repository of information for Virginia’s fish and wildlife species. The database is managed and curated by the Wildlife Information and Environmental Services (WIES) program. Species profile data, distribution information, and photography is generated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, State and Federal agencies, Collection Permittees, and other trusted partners. This product is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying use. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept responsibility for any missing data, inaccuracies, or other errors which may exist. In accordance with the terms of service for this product, you agree to this disclaimer.