Ornate slider (Trachemys ornata)
|Also known as:||ornate slider turtle|
|Size||Carapace length: up to 38 cm (2)|
Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
Once considered to be a subspecies of Trachemys scripta (the common slider), this turtle is now a full species (2). The carapace (upper shell) is oval, olive to brown, with yellow markings (3), and black, round, eye-like spots on the scutes along the side of the carapace (2) (3). The plastron (lower shell) is yellow and patterned with black markings. The large, strong head has an orange stripe that starts behind the eye and extends back down the neck (3).
There does not seem to be agreement on the exact range of this species, possibly due to confusion with similar species. The IUCN describe this species as being endemic to western Mexico, from the states of Sinaloa and Nayarit (1). Other sources state that the range of the ornate slider expands south, down the Pacific Coast of Central America and into northern Colombia (2) (3).
It is thought that this aquatic turtle has similar habitat requirements to other tropical slider turtles, that is, it prefers calm waters with muddy bottoms, in areas with abundant vegetation and plenty of basking sites (2).
There is a scarcity of information on the biology of the ornate slider turtle, but based on information relating to other Trachemys species of Central America, it is mostly likely an omnivorous turtle that feeds opportunistically during the daytime (1) (2). It probably also reaches maturity between four and eight years of age and then produces several clutches each year, consisting of about 20 eggs (1).
The name of slider turtles arises from the manner in which, after basking on the river bank or on a stone, they slide on their lower shell back into the water (2).
This little-known turtle occurs in an area of heavy commercial agriculture, so it is likely it is being affected by chemical pollution. In addition, deep wells are causing water tables to fall in the region, resulting in a possible loss of habitat for the ornate slider (1).
Turtles are protected from exploitation in Mexico (1). Further research on the ornate slider turtle’s status, distribution and natural history is clearly urgently required before any further conservation measures, such as establishing protected areas, can be implemented (1).
For further information on conservation in Mexico see:
The Nature Conservancy:
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- Carapace: the top shell of a turtle. In arthropods (insects, crabs etc), the fused head and thorax (the part of the body located near the head) also known as ‘cephalothorax’.
- Endemic: a species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Omnivorous: feeding on both plants and animals.
- Scutes: large, bony plates or scales on the upper or lower shell of a turtle or tortoise.
- Subspecies: a population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
IUCN Red List (December, 2007)
- Bonin, F., Devaux, B. and Dupré, A. (2006) Turtles of the World. A&C Black Publishers Ltd, London.
- Ernst, C.H., Altenburg, R.G.M. and Barbour, R.W. (1997) Turtles of the World. ETI Information Systems Ltd, Netherlands.