Trachemys scripta scripta | Yellow-bellied Slider
Regulated invasive species of Union concern under the European Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species [1143/2014].
First reported in the wild
Invasive species - risk of Medium Impact
Present in the wild
Introduction pathways - 1
Escape from Confinement
Introduction pathways subclass - 1
Medium sized freshwater turtle with yellow patches on the side of the head. Can be confused with the the Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), which has red patches, though the species are extremely similar.
Omnivorous similarly to its closely related relative T. scripta elegans, the ecological impact of T. scripta scripta in Europe is unknown though they are thought to impact negatively on native turtles in a number of regions in Europe (Meyer et al., 2015; Scalera, 2009), the United States (Pearson et al., 2013) and Asia (Ramsay et al., 2006) and have introduced novel parasites to native turtle species (Meyer et al., 2015). As no native turtles species occur in Ireland any impact would likely to be on ecosystem functioning and general biodiversity. Pond studies in the United States have shown ponds with turtles have significantly higher pH, accumulation of sediment, leaf litter decomposition rates and abundance of invertebrates specifically Hemiptera and Ephemeroptera (Lindsay et al., 2013). They may predate on amphibians, small mammals and birds (Scalera, 2009) though this has not been measured outside of its native range.
Inland surface waters
Pathway and vector description
After the importation of Trachemys scripta elegans into the EU was prohibited (Wildlife Trade Regulation, Council Regulation 338/97 of the European Union), Trachemys scripta scripta largely replaced it as the most popular reptile in the pet trade. From there turtles are generally released into the wild by their owners upon releasing that 30cm adults that live for 50 years are difficult pets to maintain.
Mechanism of impact
Competition, Predation, Disease transmission, Grazing/Herbivory/Browsing
Found in slow flowing freshwater habitats with soft bottoms and an abundance of aquatic vegetation.
To date not as widely distributed as T. scripta elegans though potentially could be introduced to a large number of countries through the pet trade.
Native to the eastern United States.
Records submitted to Data Centre in 2022
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How can you help
Report any sightings of turtles to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Do not release unwanted pets into the wild.
Trachemys scripta elegans is listed by the the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) of the SSC- Species Survival Commission of the IUCN -International Union for Conservation of Nature as one of the 100 Worst Invaders. T. scripta scripta is a similar species and is likely to have similar ecological impacts.
Bringsøe, H. (2006): NOBANIS – Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet – Trachemys scripta. – From: Online Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species – NOBANIS www.nobanis.org Site accessed 21 October 2017.
European Commission. (2017). Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern. European Union, Luxembourg.
European Environment Agency (EEA) (2012). The impacts of invasive alien species in Europe. Technical report No 16/2012. EEA, Copenhagen. 114 p. https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/impacts-of-invasive-alien-species Site accessed 20 October 2017.