COMMON NAME — Red-eared Slider
SCIENTIFIC NAME — Trachemys scripta elegans
FAMILY — Emydidae
ORDER — Testudines
Although Red-eared Sliders are very common as pets, this one, among many others, lives wild at nearby ponds.
When we first approached the turtle, it withdrew most of its body into its shell.
A close-up view of the “red ear”.
It looks like this turtle came into contact with a cactus plant, probably a prickly pear, which not only has big prickly needles, but also much smaller prickles called glochids. I think those are what we see sticking into the underside of the head in this photo.
You can also see glochids sticking into the front leg in this photo.
A view of the hind legs and the tail.
This is not the first time that one of these turtles has wandered onto our property. One time when I was out back I saw my dog chewing on something. I went to get a closer look and saw that he was trying to get at the turtle hiding inside its shell. I was horrified! He had chewed some nicks into its shell, but I got to it before he had a chance to do any significant damage. I shooed the dog away, picked up the turtle and walked it down the driveway about 15 feet away from a small pond. I sat the turtle down and it took off like a shot!! I never knew a turtle could move that fast!
A few details about the Red-eared Slider from Wikipedia:
Range — They originated around the Mississippi area and the Gulf of Mexico, in the warm climate of the southeastern corner of the U.S. They are native to Colorado, Virginia and Florida. Because of their popularity as pets, they have been released or escaped into the wild in many parts of the world.
Habitat — Areas with a source of calm, still, warm water such as ponds, lakes, swamps, creeks, streams, or slow-flowing rivers, where they are able to leave the water easily by climbing on rocks or tree trunks to warm in the sun.
Diet — Adults are omnivores, but their main food source is aquatic vegetation.
Other — The Red-eared Slider is a semi-aquatic turtle, a sub-species of the Pond Slider. It is the most popular pet turtle in the United States, and also popular as a pet in the rest of the world. They get their name from the small red dash around their ears. Many interesting additional details about this species are found in the Wikipedia article.