Trachemys scripta 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Testudines Emydidae

Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta (Schoepff, 1792)
Common Name(s):
English Yellow-bellied Slider Turtle, Common Slider, Cumberland Slider Turtle, Red-eared Slider Turtle, Slider
Chrysemys scripta (Schoepff, 1792)
Emys cumberlandensis Holbrook, 1840
Emys elegans Wied, 1839
Emys troostii Holbrook, 1836
Pseudemys scripta (Schoepff, 1792)
Testudo scripta Schoepff, 1792
Trachemys scripta ssp. elegans (Wied, 1839)
Trachemys scripta ssp. troostii (Holbrook, 1836)
Taxonomic Notes: Previously extending to Argentina with about 15 subspecies in North, Central and South America, most former subspecies have been elevated to species rank in recent years, leaving only Trachemys scripta scripta, T.s. troostii and T.s. elegans as current subspecies (see Seidel 2002, TTWG 2007, Fritz and Havas 2007, for details).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-08-01
Assessor(s): van Dijk, P.P., Harding, J. & Hammerson, G.A.
Reviewer(s): Horne, B.D., Mittermeier, R.A., Philippen, H.-D., Quinn, H.R., Rhodin, A.G.J., Shaffer, H.B. & Vogt, R.C
Contributor(s): Corti, C., Lymberakis, P., Cheylan, M., Hammerson, G.A., Geniez, P., Pérez Mellado, V., Lavin, P. & Mendoza-Quijano, F.
Trachemys scripta is assessed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a broad range of habitats, and large population.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Trachemys scripta is native to the eastern and central United States of America (Iverson 1992). Its subspecies are disributed as follows:

T.s. scripta: Atlantic drainages from southern Virginia to northern Florida.
T.s. elegans: Alabama to extreme northeastern Mexico, up to Cuatro Cienegas.
T.s. troostii: Southwestern Virginia to northeastern Alabama (west of Appalachians).

Introduced populations of T.s. elegans have been reported from Mexico: feral populations exist throughout the country; parts of the United States (Arizona, California, Hawaiian Islands, northeastern States); Guadeloupe (France): Occurs on Grande Terre and Basse Terre (Iverson 1992, Malhotra and Thorpe 1999); Portugal: widespread, especially in the south; Spain: widespread at low elevations; France: widespread, except in the north; Italy (scattered throughout the country); Slovenia (near Italian border region); Greece (Crete); Austria (Vienna region); Germany; southwestern Switzerland; Netherlands; Turkey; Israel; South Africa; Taiwan; Thailand; Cambodia; Indonesia; and Australia.

Countries occurrence:
Mexico (Coahuila); United States (Alabama, Arizona - Introduced, Arkansas, California - Introduced, Florida, Georgia, Hawaiian Is. - Introduced, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland - Introduced, Michigan - Introduced, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey - Introduced, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania - Introduced, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia)
Cambodia; Canada; China; France; Germany; Greece; Guadeloupe; Indonesia; Israel; Italy; Japan; Netherlands; South Africa; Spain; Switzerland; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:United States: A widespread species that is common in its native range, and has established populations beyond its native range.

Mexico: locally common within its native range, and has established feral populations throughout the country.

In Europe it is becoming increasingly abundant, especially in Portugal, Spain and France.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:In its native range, Trachemys scripta is an inhabitant of a wide variety of waterbodies, and is most abundant in soft-bottomed shallow habitats with minimal flow, abundant access to sunlight and extensive vegetation. In Mexico, it is primarily a riverine species. In Europe, the species is an opportunistic inhabitant of freshwater habitats, generally in close proximity to human habitation and/or recreation centres.

Trachemys scripta
is omnivorous and consumes a wide variety of plant and animal matter. Males may reach 24 cm carapace length (CL), females 29 cm. Maturity is reached at about 9-11 cm CL and two to five years in males, 15-20 cm CL and five to eight years. Longevity is about 30 years maximum. Generation time is probably around 12-15 years. Females produce 0-3 clutches of 5-20 eggs per year. Incubation takes 60-91 days. Hatchlings measure 23-35 mm (Thomas 2006, Ernst and Lovich 2009)
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Generation Length (years):15-25,20

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Trachemys scripta elegans is 'the' traditional pet turtle, farmed in large quantities in the southern USA for the global pet trade and in recent years also for raising for consumption in Asian countries; the latter is increasingly replaced by domestic, ex-situ farming in the consuming countries. Nearly all animals in commercial trade, which amounts to about 6 million individuals per year, are produced in near-closed-cycle farms. Wild harvest from native populations has involved mainly adult animals as breeder stock for farms, as well as adults for the domestic and international consumption trade; wild-caught females are sold to turtle farms, while surplus males enter the consumption trade. Eggs may be harvested from the wild.

Following a ban on the import of Trachemys scripta elegans into the European Union as a potential invasive, the pet turtle farming industry partly shifted to Trachemys scripta scripta, intergrades scripta x elegans, and other Emydid species. Attempts have been made in recent years to lift the US domestic pet trade ban.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Individuals and populations of Trachemys scripta can be under varying levels of impact from habitat degradation and loss, road mortality, pollution (particularly pesticides and heavy metals), and collection. These threats collectively are not perceived to endanger the survival of the species.

Populations in Europe are in places considered to represent a threat to local turtle species (through competition) and the ecosystem in general (competition, predation). Trachemys scripta elegans is included in the IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group's 100 Worst Invasives List.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Trachemys scripta is subject to a variety of State legislation and regulations. The species occurs in a substantial number of  protected areas. European populations are either tolerated or their elimination is desired. The European Union has banned the import of T.s. elegans on the basis of of it being an invasive species, but other subspecies are being imported instead.

Awareness of the responsibilities of acquiring the species as a pet is needed, as are appropriate disposal options for unwanted pets and captured feral animals. Surveys, monitoring and research on the spread and ecological effects of feral populations is warranted.

Errata [top]

Errata reason: An errata assessment is required to generate a revised PDF without the range map which had been included in error; no range map was available when this assessment was originally published.

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.2. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.3. Wetlands (inland) - Shrub Dominated Wetlands
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.6. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.9. Wetlands (inland) - Freshwater Springs and Oases
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.1. Artificial/Aquatic - Water Storage Areas (over 8ha)
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.2. Artificial/Aquatic - Ponds (below 8ha)
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.3. Artificial/Aquatic - Aquaculture Ponds
15. Artificial/Aquatic & Marine -> 15.9. Artificial/Aquatic - Canals and Drainage Channels, Ditches
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.3. Limiting population growth
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.2. Policies and regulations

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:Unknown
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.2. Intentional use: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Ernst, C.H. and Lovich, J.E. 2009. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Second edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Ernst, C.H., Lovich, J.E. and Barbour, R.W. 1994. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian, Washington, DC. 578 pp.

Fritz, U. and Havas, P. 2007. Checklist of chelonians of the world. Vertebrate Zoology 57(2): 149-368.

Gibbons, J.W. (ed.). 1990. Life History and Ecology of the Slider Turtle. Smithsonian Publications, Washington DC.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.1). Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2017).

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2016).

Iverson, J.B. 1992. A Revised Checklist with Distribution Maps of the Turtles of the World. privately published, Richmond, Indiana.

Malhotra, A. and Thorpe, R.S. 1999. Reptiles & Amphibians of the Eastern Caribbean. Macmillan Education Ltd, London & Oxford.

Seidel, M. 2002. Taxonomic observations on extant species and subspecies of slider turtles, Genus Trachemys. Journal of Herpetology 36(2): 285-292.

Thomas, R.B. 2006. Trachemys scripta - Slider or Yellow-Bellied Slider. In: Meylan, P.A. (ed.), Biologya and Conservation of Florida Turtles, pp. 296-312. Chelonian Research Foundation, Lunenburg, MA.

TTWG [Turtle Taxonomy Working Group: Bickham, J.W., Iverson, J.B., Parham, J.F., Philippen, H.D., Rhodin, A.G.J., Shaffer, H.B., Spinks, P.Q. and van Dijk, P.P.]. 2007. An annotated list of modern turtle terminal taxa with comments on areas of taxonomic instability and recent change. In: H.B. Shaffer, N.N. FitzSimmons, A. Georges, and A.G.J. Rhodin (eds), Defining Turtle Diversity: Proceedings of a Workshop on Genetics, Ethics, and Taxonomy of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises. Chelonian Research Monographs 4: 173-199.

TTWG (Turtle Taxonomy Working Group: Rhodin, van Dijk, Iverson, and Shaffer). 2010. Turtles of the World, 2010 Update: Annotated Checklist of Taxonomy, Synonymy, Distribution, and Conservation Status. Chelonian Research Monographs 5(3): 000.85-164.

Citation: van Dijk, P.P., Harding, J. & Hammerson, G.A. 2011. Trachemys scripta (errata version published in 2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T22028A97429935. . Downloaded on 27 May 2018.
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