The red-eared slider is one of three subspecies of the common slider. They have green and yellow patterned shells and body, with bold red line behind the eye and reaching half way down the neck. This is the reason behind their name ‘red-eared’.
They enjoy spending a sunny day sunbathing on a branch sticking out of the water where they will quickly slide into the water if disturbed, this is the reason behind their name ‘slider’. They can sleep underwater, using the ability to inflate their throats to avoid sinking. They become inactive during the winter and hibernate at the bottom of ponds.
The red-eared slider has a unique courtship ritual where the male will approach the female from the front. He stretches out his forelegs and vibrates his claws, stroking the females head. After mating, the female searches for a suitable nest for her eggs, she can store the sperm inside herself for up to 79 days before fertilising and laying the eggs.
A hatchling red-eared slider will eat mostly insects but as they mature, their diet will include vegetation, small vertebrates and insects. They will eat anything from algae and duckweed to snails, shrimp, frogs, fish, birds and snakes.
The red-eared slider is listed as Not Evaluated by the IUCN. The original population in the Mississippi river was threatened due to the pet trade and damage to their wetland habitat. They have become an introduced species in many parts of the world and are a threat to native species.