Red-eared Slider

(Trachemys scripta elegans)

Red-eared Slider

Family name: Emydidae

Species name : Trachemys scripta elegans (WIED 1838)

Synonym name:
Emys elegans
WIED 1839: 213
Emys holbrooki GRAY 1844
Emys sanguinolenta GRAY 1855
Trachemys lineata GRAY 1873: 147
Chrysemys scripta var. elegans BOULENGER 1889
Pseudemys elegans FORCE 1928
Pseudemys scripta elegans CAGLE 1944
Pseudemys scripta elegans STEBBINS 1985: 102
Trachemys scripta elegans IVERSON 1986
Trachemys scripta elegans CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 65
Trachemys scripta elegans SEIDEL 2002
Trachemys scripta elegans TTWG 2014: 363
Trachemys scripta elegans HENNIG 2015
Trachemys scripta elegans VARGAS-RAMÍREZ et al. 2017

Common name: Kırmızı yanaklı su kaplumbağası

English name: Red-eared Slider

Group: –

Year of introduction: –

Year of first report: –

National distribution area:

Red-eared slider reports are delivered from cities especially with high population figures in Mediterranean, Eastern Anatolia, Aegean, Central Anatolia and Marmara regions

Distribution in Turkey

Distribution details:

Distribution: The natural distribution of the species is in the east of the United States and northeast of Mexico. Mississippi Valley from the USA, including 19 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico [east] to the Gulf of Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia) and two Mexican states (Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas) (Ernst et al. 2009, Global Invasive Species Database 2020, Uez et al. 2020).

Foreign Populations: In Mexico, populations that have returned to natural life throughout the country (feral); In some parts of the United States (Arizona, California, Hawaii Islands, northeastern States); Guadeloupe (France): in Grande Terre and Basse Terre; Portugal: common especially in the south; Spain: common at low heights; France, common except for the north; Italy (spread across the country); Slovenia (near the Italian border area); Greece (Crete); Austria (Vienna region); Germany; southwestern Switzerland; Netherlands; Turkey; Israel; South Africa; Taiwan; Thailand; Cambodia; Indonesia and Australia (van Dijk et al., 2011, Global Invasive Species Database 2020, Uez et al. 2020).

Type of introduction:

Pet Trade

Pathway of introduction:

In our country, domestic turtles are released to public urban parks and natural ponds and lakes.

Donor area:

The natural distribution of the species is in the east of the United States and northeast of Mexico.


The red-eared slider lives in a wide variety of freshwater habitats, including rivers, ditches, marshes, lakes and ponds, in its natural distribution area (Bringsøe 2006). The species prefers large still water bodies with a soft ground, a large number of aquatic plants and suitable sunbathing areas (Bringsøe 2006, Ernst et al. 2009). They spend their species by searching for nutrients in water sources with dense vegetation or sunbathing on logs. They prefer soft, muddy bottoms, stagnant water with aquatic plants and areas suitable for sunbathing (Global Invasive Species Database 2020).


It is one of the 100 most common invasive species in the world on the IUCN Red List. (Kraus 2009).


The red-eared slider is one of the most widely treated reptiles in the world due to its relatively low prices and generally low feeding cost, small size and easy maintenance (Kraus 2009; Csurhes and Hankamer 2016, Global Invasive Species Database 2020).


The red-eared slider is an opportunistic omnivorous species with a strong competition ability. This turtle can adapt to a variety of environments, whether it is currently lakes, reservoirs or muddy ponds, ditches or even estuarine brackish waters; we can see them in almost all dirty and clean waters. That’s why it has become one of the 100 most common invasive species in the world. On the one hand, the species has a large niche, various physiological activities tolerant to different ecological factors, and even some environmental stresses. On the other hand, it has a strong behavioural adaptation and flexibility and can adapt and change itself to adapt to any environmental conditions (Global Invasive Species Database 2020).


Physical measures: The red-eared slider can be caught by hand or by various capturing devices such as pinter. Floating boards used as a sunbathing area by turtles seem very effective when equipped with bait cages on top (Scalera 2006). Hunting dogs can be used to detect and remove both turtles and their eggs; eggs can also be found and removed by following the females in the nesting areas (Scalera 2006, Global Invasive Species Database 2020).

Scientific Research: The ecological effects of the promotions of T. scripta elegans have been identified in many countries in Europe and Asia (Cadi and Joly 2004, Ramsay et al. 2007, Ma and Shi, 2017, Global Invasive Species Database 2020). Interaction with indigenous populations of the species in Turkey and the effects of long-term follow-up studies should be considered.

Training and Raising Awareness: The required solution is the public training for import, sales and frequent release of domestic animals. It is a priority to have briefing campaign in EU for raising public awareness on risks of cheap domestic animals (Scalera, 2006). In some countries (for example: Italy, Spain and France), alive individuals abandoned by pet owners are eliminated in rescue centres and zoos (Scalera 2006). Media information campaigns should encourage people to take better care of their pets / turtles and avoid leaving them in the wild (Bringsøe 2006). All pet shops in the EU must have to provide buyers with proper care documents about turtles and other animals (Bringsøe 2006). These animals pose a potential risk to human health, which demands sanitary control and more information for the public (Global Invasive Species Database 2020).

Threats deriving from the red-eared slider in our country are becoming more and more serious. Incentives for urgent scientific research into species should be provided to protect our sensitive ecosystems and reduced biology diversity. There is a need for comprehensive studies on the demographic characteristics of the species in our country (density, growth rate, survival rate, age composition, gender ratio, diffusion etc.), reproduction and distribution potential. It is necessary to strengthen the propaganda efforts that bring the government and social powers together to monitor the temporal and spatial changes of the species populations in the long term and control these pest species.


At the end of the Second World War, the demand for Red-eared sliders as pets has increased dramatically and has led to commercial turtle farming in the U.S. and then a large amount of exports to many countries (Bringsøe 2006). Until now, this turtle has spread to more than 70 countries and regions in Europe, Africa, Oceania, Asia and America (Kraus 2009; Rhodin et al. 2017, Global Invasive Species Database 2020).

Individuals of this turtle who survive until their first or second age can live for about 30 years. They carry a risk of infection, especially Salmonella. This risk can be reduced by replacing the aquarium water at least once every two weeks for young individuals and once a week for newly born pups or by using a suitable aquarium water filter system. When they become adults, they can cause painful bites and cause irresponsible owners to leave them in the wild with negative ecological, social and economic effects (Csurhes and Hankamer 2016, Global Invasive Species Database 2020).

The red-eared slider is considered an important threat to domestic turtle species, as they reach and grow faster, grow more, produce more offspring, and become more aggressive (Kraus 2009; Csurhes and Hankamer 2016). Many studies provide evidence that red-eared slider can compete for domestic turtles for logging, nesting and sunbathing areas (Cadi and Joly 2004, Polo-Cavia et al. 2010). Since they are an omnivorous species and consume plants as nutrients, they have negative effects on many native aquatic forms (O’Keefe 2005, Global Invasive Species Database 2020).

As a consequence, it has impacts of competition with indigenous species and endangered species, being a disease vector, nutrition, the risk of carrying diseases that threaten public health, unpredictable effects on natural habitat and ecosystem.


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