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Red-eared slider turtle - High risk


Have you seen a red-eared slider turtle?

Red-eared slider turtles are one of the worlds worst invasive species. They can breed rapidly and carry exotic diseases. They compete with native turtles and other wildlife for food, nesting and basking sites, and eat threatened plants and animals. This species has the potential to become a major pest in urban waterways and wetlands. If you have seen a red-eared slider turtle in captivity or in the wild, please report it immediately using this website.

Quick facts

Did you know that red-eared slider turtles are sometimes kept illegally as pets?

They can live up to 75 years in captivity, and can become aggressive towards their owners.

These animals are sometimes illegally released into the wild, where they can breed to high numbers.


 How to identify this species

Scientific name

Trachemys scripta elegans

Where are they from

Red-eared slider turtles are native to the mid-western states of the USA and north-eastern Mexico.


Juvenile carapace (shell) averages 3cm in length and adults can range between 12.5-30cm in length.


Red-eared slider turtles have a distinct bright red patch behind each eye, which fades with age. They retract their heads straight back into their shell unlike many native Australian freshwater turtles that wrap their head around the side of their shell. They often have unique cream-yellowish stripes on their head, neck and legs, and males have long claws on their front feet.
The carapace of an adult is usually dark green-brown in colour, and sometimes has yellow and black blotch-like markings. The plastron (underside of shell) has exactly 12 segments. Segments are usually bright yellow with brown-black blotches of circular patterns in the centre. Adults shells are domed shaped. 

Juvenile colouration
Juvenile. Photo: N. Mariia
Red mark behind eye's
Adult. Photo: Velychko
Top of carapace
Carapace. Photo: Velychko
Plastron has 12 scales
Plastron. Photo: Sunisakang
Head retracts into shell
Head retracting. Photo: P. Ksinia 
Males have long claws
Male turtle. Photo: M. Naaim


See more photos of this species


Click on the image below to view the 3D red-eared slider turtle.




Red-eared slider turtles are cold blooded and will bask in direct sunlight to increase their core temperature for metabolism and movement. Common basking locations include river banks, rocky outcrops, logs and tree branches that are semi-submerged or up to 1m above the ground. If a basking location is highly sort after, individuals may compete for the location, and may even bask on top of each other. Red-eared slider turtles become more active during the warmer months of the year.

Life cycle and breeding

Sexual maturity is reached between 2-5 years of age, and commonly when carapace width reaches >10.2cm. Females can produce between 2-25 eggs per clutch, and up to 5-6 clutches per breeding season. Females are capable of producing fertile eggs five years after insemination. Mating begins in spring, and females will lay eggs in sandy, well drained soil during the early morning or late afternoon-early evening. Nests are built above the water level and usually within 500m of the waters edge. 


Red-eared slider turtles prefer still water bodies, spending most of their time in depths of 1-3m. They can tolerate fresh, brackish and saline water. Some individuals have been documented traveling several kilometres between water bodies, and can colonise new areas quickly.


Other resources for identification





Similar native species

Saw-Shelled turtle

Myuchelys latisternum

Click to enlarge image

Eastern long neck turtle

Chelodina longicollis

Click to enlarge image

Murray River turtle

Emydura macquarii

Click to enlarge image

Your safety and other information

Safety precautions

Red-eared slider turtles may have been imported illegally and pose a exotic diseases and parasites risk to human and native wildlife health. They can become aggressive and bite their handlers.
For these reasons the following precautions should be followed: 
• Ensure the turtles head is kept away from your body to avoid bite injuries.
• Wear disposable gloves when handling animals.
• Wash hands in warm, soapy water after handling animals. 


Legal implications

The importation, keeping, breeding and trade of this species in all states and territories is illegal. If you have a red-eared slider turtle, or would like further information about this species in your state or territory, please contact your local authorities.


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Banksia Sustainability Awards 2016

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Banksia Sustainability Awards 2016