TheRed-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)is a Terrapin endemic to the United States of America however, they are commonly kept and sold as pets in the United Kingdom, in no small part due to the 'Tennage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Fad. These pets, growing larger than their owners thought, are often released and subsequently they occur in areas throughout the United Kingdom, especially in places such as West London where large lakes often house many of them.
These Terrapins, as juveniles are yellow/green in colour with blue/purple to black 'pinstripe' markings on their body, as they grow and reach their adult size of around 8-10" they take on a much darker appearance, deep brown to black in colour, the underbelly remains bright yellow with black spots the pinstripe markings remain on the tail, legs and head, these turn black and between them are black, yellow and white stripes. There is a large red 'oval' spot behind there eye and over the ear, this is, as the name suggests, red. Females grow larger then males and both sexes have webbed feet, the males, however, have very long nails on their front feet which they use to tickle the female's face during courtship.
This species is native to the United States but in recent times, with the growth of herpetoculture and the phenomenon of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this species has grown in popularity world wide, many parents buy these fornyoung children and, once the children get bored of them or the Terrapins grow too large for them to look after, they are commonly released in the wild, this is particularly common in Europe due to the comparitively relaxed laws on the Pet Trade. These, now wild, Terrapins are able to find food in the form of Small fish, frogs and, in some cases, they have been known to take the chicks of Native Water Birds. This has become somewhat of a threat, being so adept at thriving in the conditions the other European fauna (and in particular, Herpetofauna) is beginning to suffer. It's unclear whether or not this species is able to breed successfully in the United Kingdom, they can certainly over winter here with ease but the Sumers may not get warm enough to Incubate eggs, particularly in the North. It has been noted though, that in the southern parts of it's UK range, young animals appear each year so it is possible breeding does occur.