Photo credit: © Lars K/Flickr
(Trachemys scripta scripta)
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Species at a Glance
The yellow-bellied slider is a semi-aquatic basking turtle that can be found resting on logs, stumps, or rocks when the weather is mild and the sun is out. This species can mate with the red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), producing hybrids that are often sold as pets.
A vertical yellow blotch that runs behind the eye is most evident in juveniles and females. Narrow yellow stripes mark the neck, legs, and arms. The upper shell (carapace) is oval in shape and tends to be serrated, with olive to brownish-yellow vertical bands. Older turtles can be completely black. The lower shell (plastron) is typically yellow with dusky smudge-like markings and often has two solid black spots towards the rear. Males range from 13-20 cm (5-8 in), while females range from 20-33 cm (8-13 in).
Both the yellow-bellied slider and the eastern river cooter (Pseudemys concinna concinna) have yellow stripes down the neck and underside, but the eastern river cooter tends to have green spots along the edge of the belly.
The yellow-bellied slider inhabits lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, ditches, marshes, bays, and swamps, preferring areas with aquatic vegetation. They can also survive in saltwater.
Because the yellow-bellied slider is popular in the pet industry, intentional pet releases, as well as escapes into the natural environment, are the mostly likely vectors for its spread.
Although the yellow-bellied slider is native to the United States in parts of Virginia and the Carolinas, it has been collected (but is not yet established) in New York, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Mexico, California, Arizona, and Mexico. In Pennsylvania, the yellow-bellied slider has been reported in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties.
Note: Distribution data for this species may have changed since the publication of Pennsylvania's Field Guide to Aquatic Invasive Species (Second Edition 2015), the source of information for this description.
Little is known about the ecological impact of sliders, although they compete with other native species of turtles for food and basking sites.These turtles have also been linked with salmonella when farmed and sold as pets, increasing the spread of disease to humans and other turtles.
Information for this species profile comes from Pennsylvania's Field Guide to Aquatic Invasive Species (Second Edition 2015).