Chordates •

Big Bend slider

(Trachemys gaigeae)



The Big Bend slider (Trachemys gaigeae), also called the Mexican Plateau slider, is a species of aquatic turtle in the family Emydidae. The species is endemic to the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Adults of T. gaigeae have a straight carapace length of 5 to 11 inches (13 to 28 cm). The species Trachemys gaigeae was first described by professor of zoology at the University of Michigan, Dr. Norman Edouard Hartweg, in 1939, as a subspecies, Pseudemys scripta gaigeae. Later, it was assigned to the genus Chrysemys, then to the genus Trachemys. Most recently, it was granted full species status, though many sources still refer to it by its various synonyms. The Nazas slider (T. hartwegi) of the Nazas River in northern Mexico was formerly considered a subspecies of T. gaigeae, but was reclassified as a distinct species by the Turtle Taxonomy Working Group and the Reptile Database in 2021. T. gaigeae is native to the United States in the states of New Mexico and Texas, and to northern Mexico in the state of Chihuahua. It is found primarily in the Rio Grande and Rio Concho. The epithet, gaigeae, is in honor of American herpetologist Helen Beulah Thompson Gaige, who collected the first specimen in the Big Bend region of Texas in 1928. Primarily aquatic, the Big Bend slider is often seen basking on rocks or logs in the water, and when approached quickly dives to the bottom. The only time it spends a large amount of time on land is when females emerge to lay eggs. It is an omnivorous species, with younger animals being more carnivorous, and progressively becoming more herbivorous as they age, with older adults being nearly entirely herbivorous. Trachemys is a genus of turtles belonging to the family Emydidae. Members of this genus are native to the Americas, ranging from the Midwestern United States south to northern Argentina, but one subspecies, the red-eared slider (T. scripta elegans), has been introduced worldwide. Species under this genus are commonly referred to as sliders.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Reptilia
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