It lives in the areas of the southeast of the US and northwest of Mexico, in areas with lots of vegetation, swamps and lakes.
When they awaken from hibernation they go to shallow waters and try not to get far from where they have their habitat. It belongs to the group of the Galapagos, its average length ranges from 12 to 20 cm., But 30 cm specimens have been found. They manage to live about 40 years, a period that is shortened by being in captivity.
They have an upper part of the carapace called back, low and crushed that has dark spots and lines. In the chest they present reticulated drawings as well as the legs and tail. The anterior and posterior legs have interdigital membranes.
The red-eared turtle has a red spot on the back of the eye that erases over the years. The young specimens have a more vivid coloration, which they lose until they reach adults in different shades of brown and olive green. In this species, the youngest ones are deep green, being also their red spot more alive in the young.
In this species, the male is smaller than the female, has strong claws and more elongated in the legs to caress his partner in courtship.
The tail of the male is thicker and larger and the cloacal opening is farther from the body. The plastron or chest of the male is more arched inward, to facilitate mating. Males have larger ear patches and a brighter and more intense red than females.