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The Red-eared Slider: A Southern U.S. Native and an Invasive Species Elsewhere

A native of Mexico and the southern U.S. the red-eared slider can be found in just about any lake. They are easily identified with a distinct red strip on both sides of their head. When young, these turtles eat insects and other aquatic organisms, but as an adult the red-eared slider becomes a herbivore (vegetarian).

Sliders are often sold in pet shops as hatchlings and if cared for properly, they will grow and grow and grow. And as they grow they need bigger and bigger and bigger tanks requiring lots of cleaning and care. Oftentimes, people grow weary of the upkeep and will release their pet turtle into a local pond.

When these turtles are released in waterways outside of their home range, red-eared sliders can wreak havoc on native turtles. Studies have shown that red-eared sliders negatively impact the growth of native turtle species. They often out-compete native turtles for food, nesting locations and basking places.

Having a red-eared slider as a pet is a 20-year commitment. They might be cute as babies, but sliders require a lot of care as they get older. Some places have banned the sale of red-eared sliders due to their invasiveness. If you have one that you no longer want seek assistance with local wildlife centers to find a home for your pet. Above all, think before you buy!

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