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Sea Life, Animals
& Exhibits

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Red Eared Slider

(Trachemys scripta elegans)

The red-eared slider is named for the bright red patches on the sides of its head and the way it slides into the water when alarmed. As a sociable species, the red-eared slider often climbs atop one another while basking in the sun on a log or rock emerging from the water.


They prefer to live in quiet, slow-moving waters with muddy bottoms and plenty of aquatic plants. These turtles are found in both fresh water and brackish waters. Even though, they are aquatic creatures, these turtles are commonly found on logs and rocks, basking in the sun. Red-eared slider turtles are sometimes found stacked upon one another, while basking. Reptiles do not hibernate but actually brumate, becoming less active but occasionally rising for food or water. Red-eared sliders brumate over the winter at the bottom of ponds or shallow lakes and they become inactive, generally, in October, when temperatures fall below 50 °F.


Red-eared sliders feed on both plants and animals. While the juveniles prefer small creatures, their older counterparts tend to eat more plants. Other than aquatic plants, their diet includes fish, crayfish, carrion, tadpoles, snails, crickets, wax worms and aquatic insects.


The breeding season lasts from late spring to early summer. Courtship and mating activities for red-eared sliders usually occur between March and July, and take place underwater. Turtles are amniotes which requires females to nest on land. Females prefer soft, sandy soil with good exposure to the sun for their nest site. The females will lay 2 to 30 oval, soft shelled eggs. The eggs are fertilized as they are being laid and buried in the sand. The sex of the Red-eared Slider is determined by the temperature during development.


Raccoons, otters, mink, foxes, and other medium-sized animals will prey on turtles and their eggs.