Red-eared slider

Red-eared slider

Trachemys scripta

Common name:

Red-eared slider

Scientific name:

Trachemys scripta

Alternative common names:


Red-eared sliders are freshwater terrapins or turtles from North America (found in the Mississippi Valley from Illinois via parts of eastern New Mexico). It is listed by the IUCN’s Invasive Species Specialist Group as one of the ‘Top 100’ Worst Invasive Species.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

North America

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1b.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Individuals have been found in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Hartebeespoort Dam, Durban, Scottburgh and Cape Town.

How does it spread?

They spread across wetland ecosystems and can migrate up rivers and across land to new water bodies.

Why is it a problem?

These exotic reptiles pose a threat to our indigenous terrapins through disease and parasite transmission as well as competition for similar resources. They also threaten biodiversity in wetland ecosystems and are known carriers of salmonella which can be transferred to people handling these terrapins.

What does it look like?

Description: Male and female red-eared sliders are similar in appearance and juveniles are more vividly marked than adults.
Length: Adults – 25-30cm, hatchlings – 30mm
Body shape: Shell flattened and oval in shape. The head is retracted straight back into the shell. Indigenous terrapins fold their head sideways into the shell.
Colouration: A broad red or reddish-brown stripe situated behind each eye. Distinct black and yellow stripes are present on the head, neck, throat, legs and tail. Hatchlings and juveniles are more vividly marked than adults. The upper shell (carapace) is olive green to grey with thin yellow stripes.
Habitat: Dams, rivers, streams and other wetland systems.
Breeding: Females can lay up to three clutches of eggs in a season, numbering from 8-23 eggs per clutch.

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