Cumberland Slider
Trachemys scripta troostii

Common Name:

Cumberland Slider

Scientific Name:

Trachemys scripta troostii



Trachemys is derived from the Greek word trachys which means "roughness" and emys which means "turtle".


scripta is derived from the Latin word scriptura meaning "a writing".


troostii was assigned to honor Gerald Troost of Nashville, Tennessee.

Average Length:

5 - 8 in. (12.5 - 20.3 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

12.2 in. (30.9 cm)

Record length:

11.4 in. (28.9 cm)

Virginia Wildlife Action Plan Rating Tier III - High Conservation Need - Extinction or extirpation is possible. Populations of these species are in decline or have declined to low levels or are in a restricted range. Management action is needed to stabilize or increase populations.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Sliders are fairly large aquatic turtles with the males having an average carapace length (CL) of 158.4 +/- 25.4 mm and females having and average CL of 246.3 +/- 15.4 mm. Respective body mas averages: males, 596.1 =/- 278.1 g; females, 2,199.5 +/-421.5 g. Generally, for sliders, the carapace is an olive brown with yellow markings. It has two rounded projections on the posterior edge of the shell, and is slightly keeled. There are 12 marginals on each side, 5 pleurals on each side and 5 vertebrals. Adult carapace is wrinkled and oval-shaped. Plastron is hingeless and slightly smaller than the carapace. Each of the bottom side of the marginals has a black spot. Skin is brown with an olive to greenish tint with yellow striping. There is a distinct bar behind the eye that can vary from yellow to red and be either thin or wide. Back of the thighs with alternating yellow/black stripes *10760*. The Cumberland slider is mainly distinguished from the southeastern Virginia subspecies by geographic location and the following physical characteristics: Yellow patch behind eyes, fewer and wider yellow stripes on the body, hollow black spots on each of the plastral scutes, and horizontal yellow striping on rear of thighs *10760*. Males have long claws on the front limbs, are smaller than the females and the cloacal opening on the tail is elongated, portruding past the carapace. Females shells are more domed. Hatchlings resemble adults except the carapace color is green and the plastron is yellow. Virginia hatchlings measured 28.5-35.3 mm CL, 25.9-32.6 PL and weighed 6-11 g *10760,11624*.

REPRODUCTION: Little is known of this subspecies in Virginia, so more research is needed. Of the species T. scripta in Virginia, breeding takes place in spring, fall, and winter months. In Virginia, nesting occurs from mid-May to late June. Females construct a nest, usually at night, in various soil-types. Clutch size is 6-15 with 71% of females producing two clutches per year. Incubation was 69-95 days in a lab setting. Overwintering of clutches may occur. Smallest reproductive female in VA was 204 mm PL and male was 94 mm PL. Egg size and mass is proportional to female size but clutch size is not *10760,11624*.

BEHAVIOR: This turtle is a communal basker. It basks on protrusions out of the water and may bask in stacks or with other species. In colder weather when water temperatures go below 10 degrees C species goes underwater and hibernates in the mud. May also use muskrat holes and hollow stumps to hibernate. They are active from April through October. The females may go extremely far from the water to the nest and are often hit by cars crossing roads. Adults eat plant material and various invertebrates. Hatchlings are mainly carnivorous, eating aquatic insects and mollusks *10760*.

ORIGIN: This subspecies is native *10760*.

POPULATION PARAMETERS: Sliders may live up to 30 years. Beyond this nothing is known of the Cumberland Slider population in Virginia *10760*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: Freshwater with an organic substrate and plenty of aquatic vegetation and basking sites is preferred habitat. The eggs are preyed on by otters, gars, crows, mink, and raccoons. This subspecies is especially popular in pet shops *10760,11624*.

References for Life History

  • 1027 - Carr, A.F., 1952, Handbook of Turtles. Turtles of the United States, Canada, and Baja California, 542 pgs., Comstock Publ. Assoc., Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, NY
  • 2988 - Ernst, C.H., R.W. Barbour, 1972, Turtles of the United States, 347 pgs., Univ. Press of Kentucky, Lexington
  • 3067 - Conant, R., 1978, Field guide to reptiles and amphibans of eastern and central North America 2nd.ed., 429 pgs., Houghton Mifflin, Boston
  • 10760 - Mitchell, J. C., 1994, The Reptiles of Virginia, 352 pgs., Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC
  • 11624 - Mitchell, J. C., 2001, Personal Communication, Expert review for GAP Analysis Project, Mitchell Ecological Research LLC


*Click on a thumbnail for a larger version.

Verified County/City Occurrence

Scott County
Verified in 1 Counties/Cities.


Virginia is home to 28 species of frogs and toads.


We have a large diversity of salamanders consisting of 56 different species and subspecies.


Virginia is home to 9 native lizard species and two introduced species, the Mediterranean Gecko and the Italian Wall Lizard.


The Commonwealth is home to 34 species and subspecies of snake. Only 3 species are venomous.


Virginia has 25 species and subspecies of turtle. Five of these species are sea turtle.