The Cumberland slider is a semi-aquatic turtle belonging to the family of slider turtles. This turtle is a subspecies of the pond slider, possessing the green upper shell unique to all members of this species. It is indigenous to the Southeastern United States.
This turtle is a popular pet, which has allowed it to spread beyond its natural range. Other names that refer to the turtle include the Cumberland turtle and Troost’s turtle.
Size: Length: 5 – 8 in. (12.5 – 20.3 cm)
Weight: 1.31-4.84 lb. (596 -2199 g)
Body and Coloration: The shell of an adult turtle is oval-shaped, wrinkled, with two rounded protrusions at the end. The underside, or plastron, is smaller than the carapace and has no hinges.
The upper part of their shell is olive brown, covered with yellow markings. The plastron is lighter than the shell, with dark spots and yellow stripes. Their legs have yellow stripes, appearing bigger than those present in other slider species.
A yellow and orange stripe can be seen directly behind each eye. The streak is never entirely one color, starting yellow and then fading to a dark orangish-red color closer to the back.
The Cumberland slider inhabits the Mississippi and Tennessee River drainages as well as the Southeastern United States. It originated from the Cumberland River valley, between Kentucky and Tennessee, which gave it its name. But as a result of trading, higher populations have been observed in other southeastern US states like Georgia, and Alabama, alongside the midwestern Illinois.
This turtle lives in quiet waters with mud at the bottom. Water bodies that fall into the category include lakes, ponds, and streams, particularly those that have an abundance of aquatic vegetation, overhanging basking spots, and organic substrate.
Interestingly, while overall omnivorous, these turtles are more carnivorous as juveniles and prefer an herbivorous diet as adults. Their diet includes algae, crayfish, fish, insects, mollusks, plants, tadpoles, and worms.
They have a lifespan of 40 – 50 years.
These turtles enjoy basking in the sun, doing so in groups on the banks of their aquatic environments, April – October being the timespan when they are mostly active.
They have a habit of sliding into the water when threatened, and then swimming across into the deep waters to escape from the impending danger. This habit of theirs has earned them the name ‘Cumberland slider’.
Predators of these turtles include alligators, American minks, armadillos, coyotes, crows, fish, grey foxes, marsupials, otters, raccoons, red foxes, skunks, and wading birds.
Like other turtles, the Cumberland slider has a hard retractable which acts as a shield, helping them shelter from their enemies or any other threat.
Their webbed feet help them to swim efficiently.
Mating and Reproduction
These turtles breed during spring, fall, and winter. They perform a ritual where the male “claws” at his mate with stiff forelegs. If the female accepts, she will let the male mount her.
Females build their nests far away from the water, digging holes in whatever soil feels suitable. This poses danger for them as while crossing the road, they often meet with accidents that could even turn fatal. Many females take into account the availability of sunlight, as these turtles love to bask in the sun. Clutch size is 6-15 eggs, with 71% of the females producing two clutches each year.
After 60-95 days, the turtles hatch from their eggs. However, the hatchlings tend to stay in their nests for around 10 months. By doing this, the baby turtles build up energy reserves and maintain fitness. Females become sexually mature at about 5-8 years, while for males it is 2-5 years.
As per the IUCN, the Cumberland slider is considered “Least Concern” or “LC”.
This turtle is very similar in appearance to the yellow-bellied slider. The difference between the two is the size of the yellow stripe behind the eyes. The yellow-bellied slider has a broad strip joining the neck stripe. In contrast, the Cumberland slider has a narrower yellow stripe behind each eye.
This turtle’s subspecific name, troostii, was named after the Dutch-American naturalist Gerard Troost.