Sunday, September 11, 2011

Scripta elegans...

Scripta elegans is the species and subspecies name of the Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). You don't need to speak Latin to get the gist of those two words...elegant markings, but I looked it up in Matty's Latin dictionary just to make sure, and for good measure I also checked "Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America," by Ellin Beltz, here. Scripta is Latin for "written or marked" and probably refers to the beautiful markings on the carapace (shell). Elegans is Latin for "elegant" and probably refers to the lovely and colorful red stripe that runs behind the eye. This little turtle's name says it all...

Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)





Although T. script elegans is the most common species of turtle introduced into nonindigenous ponds and rivers (due to pet releases worldwide since the 1930s), this little turtle was found near the mouth of the Great Miami River and is therefore probably part of an indigenous population (click here for the USGS map showing their native range). Do you remember the 60's children's book, "Let's Get Turtles," by Millicent Selsam. I had that book, and if I remember correctly Red-eared Sliders were the stars (but that's just a guess, I need to find a copy and check it out). We didn't keep a pet turtle, but lots of friends did. I wonder how many of those "dime store" pets ended up in local ponds when they outgrew their little round glass aquariums?

Here in the southern-most part of south-western Ohio, we are lucky because we also have a small native population of "yellow" Red-eared Sliders. I learned about the yellow form on a canoe trip while photographing turtles with Paul Krusling, a local herp specialist and turtle lover who has studied them since the 80s. Probably descended from an ancient population, the yellow form can be found near Shawnee Lookout Park and around the Oxbow area. I haven't seen one yet, but hope to. My best bet is probably at the Oxbow. Thank goodness a small group of nature lovers stepped up years ago and saved the wetland. With the yellow form, a bright yellow or cream stripe replaces the dominant orange or red stripe.

The "elegance" of T. scripta elegans is probably part of the reason the species has spread far and wide. Who can resist the charm of a beautiful little turtle with a bright red stripe on its face? To add to its appeal, when the turtles are babies they are bright green, making them even cuter. I clearly remember seeing mobs of the tiny little turtles in dime store aquariums and pet shops when I was a kid in the 60s. They were always a temptation. I guess beauty really can be a curse...

...see ya later, T. scripta elegans--you little cutie with your elegant markings!

23 comments:

Roy said...

Wow! That's one gorgeous turtle. Great shots, Kelly!

Tammie said...

gorgeous portraits of a gorgeous creature Kelly!

Guy said...

Wow Kelly

The series of blogs you have done on the turtles in your area has been fantastic. Not only have I learned a lot but I have really come to appreciate their beauty.

Thanks Guy

Wanda..... said...

He looks as if an artist had painted him that way...Your photos of him are Perfect!

Randy Emmitt said...

So Kelly did you give this guy a bath before photographing it? Sure is clean and beautiful, nice photos. My pond today had lots of Eastern Painted Turtles, they are adorable too.

Carole Meisenhelter said...

it looks so clean and obviously not lurking in muddy waters. It's really quite exotic with such vivid markings. Lovely photos as al

TexWisGirl said...

these are fabulous photos! and the sliders are so clean up north! ours are always gunked over with algae here due to the warmer temps.

Janice K said...

Love the pictures. How beautifully they were designed by thier Maker.

Montanagirl said...

I think you can get much closer to these than I can! The detail and sharpness of your photos is incredible. I took a shot of a turtle the other day, but only from a distance. Not nearly as good a result as what you posted here. Wonderful series, Kelly!

Bob Bushell said...

Yes, they have it, the colours and the dashingness. They are fantastic, well shots.

holdingmoments said...

True beauties. A great post Kelly.

Lins Artyblobs said...

Colourful little creature, great photos.

KAT said...

super cool photos nd that turtle is spectacular

Kathy A. Johnson said...

What a darling little turtle. I sure see his/her appeal.

dAwN said...

Awesome shots Kelly!Great info! thanks.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I had those woolworth turtles as a kid. Killed everyone (unintentionally) I really loved the kitche containers made for them with the plastic palm. You can still find them on e-bay

btw: nice blog - great photos

Ken. said...

Hi Kelly.
Love your photo's, the close-ups are great. The colourations on the tortoise is amazing.

Marco Alpha said...

Hello Kelly,
Lovely shots of these wonderful turttle. Very funny that pretty colored little head.

Greetings, Marco

Rob Ripma said...

Wow, those are some fantastic shots!

I will be up at MBS this weekend! Are you going on the sunset sruise on Thursday night?

Chris said...

What a gorgeous set of pictures Kelly. They are splendid! The eye is wonderful... We got some of this in Europe too and in France too... Now we have to kill them if we see them in pond because it's competing with our local turtles...

freebird said...

I love that last photo. I can see it now as a poster with the words "I am so out of here!" written on it!

I love the other photos too. Did you send your photo in to that contest yet? You really need to; the hard part will be choosing which one is your best!

Angela said...

I love love love him.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone!! A total cutie!!! She was quite young and still nice and clean....let's give her a few years and see what happens.

Rob...I'm not doing the cruise. Sometimes I get really seasick, and the thought of hurling over the boat is unnerving! I'm arriving Thursday though and hope to bird Magee and Black Swamp.

Freebird......I have ADHD (without hyperactivity)....and sometimes my "weak executive function" gets in the way and I don't complete the task. This was one of those times! I missed the deadline...grrr...next year (which is the story of my life).