Red-eared slider turtles

The red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) is listed as an Invasive Biosecurity Matter – Invasive Animals in the Biosecurity Act 2014.

It is illegal to keep, breed, sell, or knowingly harbour red-eared slider turtles in Brisbane.

These turtles are included in the top 100 of the world's worst invasive species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), due to their invasive nature and their potential impacts on biodiversity. For this reason, they are also a species managed in Brisbane as described in the Biosecurity Plan for the Brisbane Local Government Area. 


The red-eared slider turtle:

  • is an exotic freshwater turtle with a red stripe behind the eyes, which often fades with age
  • may have plain or patterned shells
  • the only turtle in Australia that retracts its head straight back into the shell - our native turtles wrap their heads around to the side of the shell
  • grows to around 30 centimetres in length, but hatchlings may only be about the size of a 50 cent piece
  • prefer still, shallow fresh water, but go to new areas via running streams, creeks and irrigation channels, and also over land.

Problems caused by red-eared slider turtles

The red-eared slider turtles are a native of the United States, Mississippi drainage system. They are now a problem in many parts of the world and have established isolated wild breeding populations in the greater Brisbane region. 

Red-eared slider turtles:

  • can inflict a painful bite when handled
  • are very aggressive, and may out-compete native species for food and other resources in our waterways and wetlands
  • may carry diseases, pathogens and parasites, which may be introduced into native wildlife population, causing death or illness
  • may prey on native species like other aquatic reptiles, frogs, fish, crustaceans and insects
  • may affect water quality by disrupting natural ecology in  wetlands and waterways
  • may reduce the tourism value of wetlands and waterways with their predation of native wildlife.

Report red-eared slider turtles

Ongoing monitoring of sites known and potential habitats is essential for eradication to be successful.

To report that you have seen a red-eared slider turtle or that you have one to be collected, phone the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on 13 25 23.

Brisbane City Council acknowledges the assistance of the Department of Natural Resources and Water in preparing this information and supplying photographic images.

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Brisbane City Council acknowledges this Country and its Traditional Custodians. We pay our respects to the Elders, those who have passed into the dreaming; those here today; those of tomorrow.