Online Field Guide to The Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona

Pond Slider (Trachemys scripta) Arizona

Pond Slider (Trachemys scripta) Arizona

 POND SLIDER   Trachemys scripta  

DESCRIPTION: A medium-sized (shell up to 355 mm or 14″ in length) aquatic turtle with a low, mildly keeled shell and a red patch on each side of the head. On young animals the top part of the shell (carapace) is often marked with yellow and green streaks. The carapace darkens with age and becomes uniformly black or dark brown on older adults. The head and limbs are dark olive-gray with numerous cream and yellow stripes. A dark horizontal bar runs through the middle of each eye. The bottom part of the shell (plastron) is marked with several large, dark blotches on a yellow background. The rear edge of the carapace is serrated. Females grow to a much larger size than males. The similar looking Painted Turtle does not have red patches on the sides of the head.

DISTRIBUTION: This turtle’s natural range extends from the eastern and United States down into South America. In Arizona it has been introduced to rivers, canals, urban lakes, and reservoirs around Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, and Montezuma Well.

HABITAT: Generally an inhabitant of shallow, permanent water with abundant vegetation and a soft bed. Found in ponds, shallow coves within reservoirs, backwaters, and slow moving portions of rivers.

Often seen basking in the sun on floating logs or on rocks that break the surface far from shore. Also floats in sun-warmed surface water and occasionally basks on the bank. Forages during the day and spends the night on the bottom of the pond or river. A wary turtle that is quick to dive under the water when it senses danger.

This turtle is an omnivore that feeds on a variety of aquatic plants, crayfish, snails, insects, tadpoles, fish, and insects. Young tend to be more carnivorous than adults.

REPRODUCTION: Mates in spring. Females are capable of storing sperm to fertilize a second clutch of eggs. Clutches of up to 25 eggs each are buried in moist nests on the bank in spring and summer. Eggs hatch about 10 weeks after being laid. In the cooler and less arid climate of the eastern United States hatchlings remain in the nest through the winter emerging in spring. It is not known if Arizona hatchlings overwinter in the nest or not.

By Thomas C. Brennan

Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2006. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2005. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Maricopa County. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Stebbins, R.C. 1951. Amphibians of Western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Stebbins. 1985. Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin. New York, NY

Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Pond Slider (Trachemys scripta) Arizona Range Map


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