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Trachemys scripta elegans
This medium-size turtle gets its name from the broad reddish stripe behind its eyes. The undersurface of its chin is rounded and there is a V-shaped notch at the front of its jaw that is not flanked by cusps. Most of its body is dark olive green with thin yellow green stripes and bars on the top of its shell (carapace), legs and face. The green coloration of the carapace on a juvenile becomes masked by black pigmentation with age, making older individuals, especially males, appear almost black with no visible markings. In fact, these mature males are so different in appearance that they once were considered a separate species. The carapace is smooth, oval in shape and flattened with a weak keel. The bottom of its shell (plastron) is primarily yellow with a dark marking on the center of each scute. All the subspecies of sliders have webbed feet that aid this aquatic turtle in swimming. They average in length from 5 to 8 inches with a record of 11.38 inches. The male is usually smaller than the female with a much longer and thicker tail. The cloacal opening of the male is beyond the edge of the carapace while the female’s opening is at or under the rear edge of the carapace. Males have longer, curved claws that they use in courtship/mating.
Red-eared sliders inhabit most freshwater systems such as lakes, streams, swamps, ponds and rivers. They prefer the quiet waters of marshes, sluggish rivers and ponds that have soft bottoms with numerous basking sites and an abundance of aquatic vegetation. They are faithful to home ranges, leaving only to search for mates, nest and hibernate. Even if the waterways in their home ranges begin to evaporate during the summer, the sliders remain. Only after the waterway is completely dry and conditions become unbearable, will they migrate to better areas.
Spotted on May 20, 2012
Submitted on May 23, 2012