REPTILES OF THE METRO AREA
METROPOLITAN  NATURALIST
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Red-Eared Slider Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

The Red-eared Slider is an aquatic turtle, found in ponds and lakes. Their natural range is the
south-central states. These turtles were introduced to our area through the pet trade and have
established breeding populations in Maryland (as well as other parts of the U.S., Europe, Asia, and
the Middle East).

Red-eared Sliders are omnivores, eating insects, fish, frogs, snakes, and aquatic vegetation. They
grow up to 8 to 10 inches long. The turtles are often seen basking on sunny days on partially
submerged logs. When approached the turtles slide off the log to the safety of the water, a habit
that presumably gives these turtles the name "sliders". Red-eared Sliders and other basking turtles,
(such as the Painted Turtle, Red-bellied turtle, and Florida Cooter), can often be identified with a
pair of binoculars while they bask.

Red-eared Sliders have yellow stripes on their legs, tail, and face and neck. A red stripe usually
runs down the side of the head behind the eye, but this stripe sometimes fades with age.
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This Red-Eared Slider was found on the side of the road in Gaithersburg, Maryland one June
morning. The red stripe behind the eye gives the turtle the name "red-eared" slider.
Notice the very long claws on the front foot of this turtle. Male red-eared sliders have long foreclaws that might be used
in courtship and mating.
The front and back edges of the carapace (top shell) are serrated. The yellow markings on
the shell fade with age.
The plastron, the shell on the bottom of the turtle, has black spots. Black
spots also line the underside edge of the carapace.