Although it is native to the east and central region of the United States, it can now be found in many countries all over the world, including Spain, were it was introduced, and it has been considered to be an invasive species for years, because it is a threat to our Spanish pond turtles. Worldwide, it is on the list of the 100 most invasive species of the planet.
T. scripta elegans
Danger of Extinction
Bajo riesgo (Preocupación menor)
This medium sized freshwater turtle is distinguished for having a bright red stripe on each side of its head. Its head, neck and legs have yellow lines on them, which is another distinct feature of this turtle. It has a green carapace that gets darker with age (young red-eared sliders are a brighter green colour).
They demonstrate sexual dimorphism; the male is smaller than the female. Males can grow up to 24 cm in length and weigh 1.4 kg, while females can reach 30 cm in length and weigh 2.7 kg. Moreover, the males have a longer tail and long claws on their front feet that are used during mating.
Their mating season is between April and August. The females dig a hole with their front feet and they lay between 9 and 11 eggs per clutch. The egg shell is flexible and they need certain moisture conditions for complete development. Incubation lasts for between 62 and 73 days, and the incubation temperature determines the gender of the turtles. At high temperatures, the female gonads develop into ovaries, and at lower temperatures the male gonads develop into testes. At 29ºC similar numbers of male and female turtles develop.
Customs, food and habitat:
They are active between February and November, after brumation. It is a diurnal species and they are the most active in the middle of the day. They spend the majority of the time in the water although they do come out regularly to thermoregulate.
It is an omnivorous species, eating both animal protein and vegetable matter (leaves, seeds, algae, insects, tadpoles, fish, carrion…). The young turtles are more carnivorous than the adults, eating about 70% of animal protein compared to the 10% eaten by adults.
In general, they can live in different aquatic environments. In Spain they are found in rivers, lagoons, reservoirs, ponds and coastal wetlands (with low salinity).
Courtship takes place in the water. The male swims around the female until he is in front of her. At that moment he starts to flutter his front claws around the female’s face, trying to woo her. If she accepts his proposition, the female with swim towards the male and mating begins.