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yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta)

Photos

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

This is a large freshwater turtle reaching a maximum carapace length of 11.4 inches in the U.S. The carapace (upper shell) is oval, weakly keeled, and olive to brown with yellow markings. Old individuals may be completely black. The rear margin of the carapace is serrated. The plastron (lower shell) is yellow with black markings; usually there are two solid black spots on the rear plastron. There is a vertical yellow line behind the eye and stripes on the neck, arms, and legs. Eggs and nesting females have been found from May through July. There are usually from 10 to 12 eggs, although larger females may lay more. The newly-hatched young remain in the nest until heavy rains loosen the encrusted soil. Mating occurs in spring, fall, and winter months. The activity period is April through October. This turtle is frequently observed basking on banks or logs. These turtles overwinter in water in soft organic substrate, in muskrat burrows, and by simply sitting on the bottom.

Distribution

Trachemys scripta scripta is found in southeastern Virginia in the lower York County-James City County peninsula and south of the James River from the Atlantic Coast westward into Lunenburg and Mecklenburg counties. It inhabits a wide variety of freshwater habitats in southeastern Virginia, from lakes and ponds, to rivers, ditches, marshes, bays, and swamps, and will sometimes enter brackish or salt water. It prefers sites that have an organic substrate, aquatic vegetation, and basking sites.

Foods

This species is omnivorous as an adult and mostly carnivorous as a juvenile. They eat algae, seeds, plants, insects, spiders, crustaceans, tadpoles, fish, and carrion.

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).