Trachemys scripta elegans, t. scripta scripta, t. scripta troostii

Red-eared slider

Family: Emydidae

Origin: North America

A red eared slider turtle has black and green skin as it peeks out from under its shell.
Medium sized freshwater turtle that are native to southern parts of the United States.
Photo credit: Gail Rothaham

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Aotea — Exclusion
  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Turtle with olive to brown carapace patterned with yellow spots or stripes and distinctive red stripe behind eyes.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • you must not release any red-eared slider from containment within the Auckland region
  • you must not move any red-eared slider to Aotea/Great Barrier Island group
  • you must not breed, distribute or release any red-eared slider on Aotea/Great Barrier Island group
  • you will not be allowed to breed, distribute or sell any red-eared slider or other sub-species of Trachemys scripta within the Auckland region from 1 September 2022.
  • You are however still allowed to retain any existing individuals you already own. You can also take these animals to the vet, they can move with you if you move house, and you can take them to stay with someone else while you’re on holiday. You just need to keep them securely contained so they can’t escape into the wild.
  • If you pet-sit / provide temporary accommodation for other people’s animals, you’re also covered for receiving them, as long as you keep them securely contained while they are staying with you. However, if you receive animals on a more permanent basis, such as rescue centres, where ownership is changing hands, then you need to apply for an exemption for this activity. You can apply for free using this application form.


Still or slow-moving waterbodies, ponds, lakes, wetlands, rivers, drainage ditches.

Impact on environment

Eats plants, zooplankton, molluscs, fish, frogs, crustaceans, insects, gastropods, birds and small reptiles. May transmit diseases to native reptiles and amphibians. Basking behaviours may displace nesting wetland birds. May reduce water quality.



If you have pet red-eared sliders, make sure they’re securely contained to avoid accidental escapes. If you are no longer able to look after your pet red-eared slider, find someone who is prepared to give it a lifetime home, or contact a relevant pet shop or animal rescue organisation to get it rehomed.

Never release a red-eared slider into the wild – your pet may be unable to find the food and shelter it needs, and it also puts our native species at risk.

If you see a red-eared slider in the wild, record it on iNaturalist or email Auckland Council at

The red eared slider turtle looking up past the camera.
Distinctive red stripe behind each eye.
Photo credit: Crown Copyright Rod Morris, Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai (1986)
Red eared slider turtle resting on an orange bucket.
Red eared slider turtles can live up to 50 years in captivity.
Close up shot of red slider turtles head.
Shell and skin are usually lighter green in young turtles and olive to brown in mature turtles.
Red eared slider turtle held in the air facing the camera.
Head, legs, tail are green with fine yellow irregular lines.
A red eared slider turtle slowly moving along the ground.
Females are usually a little larger than the males.
Photo credit: Crown Copyright Rod Morris, Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai (1986)