(Barbour and Carr, 1940)
The elongated, elliptical carapace (to 30 cm) is slightly domed and has only a weak medial keel. Vertebrals are broader than long. Scutes are relatively smooth, but some may have longitudinal rugosities. Posterior marginals are only slightly serrated. The carapace is gray to brown with dusky ocelli on the pleurals and at the intermarginal seams. The plastron is well-developed, but lacks a deep anal groove. The plastral formula is: abd > pect > an > fem > gul > hum. Plastral ground color is yellow to cream and scattered areoli are present; the bridge contains two or more areoli. The head is of moderate size and the snout is conical and somewhat projecting. The upper jaw is not medially notched, and the ridge on the triturating surface is low. Laterally, the grayish head contains several black-bordered yellow stripes and a wide yellowish green supratemporal stripe. Stripes on the top of the head are less conspicuous than those on the sides. Limbs and tail are grayish green to brown with conspicuous black-bordered yellow stripes. Melanism apparently does not develop to any great degree in older individuals.
The karyotype is 2n = 50; 26 macrochromosomes (16 metacentric or submetacentric, 10 telocentric or subtelocentric) and 24 microchromosomes (Bickham and Baker, 1976b; Bickham and Carr, 1983).
Males are slightly smaller than females, have slightly upturned snouts, elongated foreclaws, and longer, thicker tails with the vent beyond the carapace. Females are slightly larger with straight snouts, short foreclaws, and shorter tails with the vent beneath the carapace.
Trachemys decorata is restricted to the island of Hispaniola where it occurs in water bodies in the Cul de Sac-Valle de Neiba plain in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and on the Tiburon Peninsula of Haiti (Seidel and Inchaustegui Miranda, 1984).
This turtle occurs in brackish and freshwater lakes and ponds of moderate depth with soft bottoms and abundant aquatic vegetation.
According to Inchaustegui Miranda (1973), courtship and mating occur all year long. The male strokes the female's eyes and interorbital region with his vibrating foreclaws as he swims in front in a face-to-face position. Copulation occurs underwater, and the eggs are deposited from April into July. A typical clutch includes 6 to 18 eggs, and one to four clutches are laid each year. The white eggs are elongated, ranging from 35 to 47 mm in length and 20 to 25 mm in diameter. After an incubation period of 61-80 days (at 30°C) the bright-colored hatchlings (carapace 30-40 mm) emerge.
Adult Trachemys decorata are predominantly herbivorous, naturally feeding on a variety of common aquatic plants and algae. In captivity they accept lettuce and various fruits. Juveniles are more carnivorous, accepting fish in captivity and probably eating aquatic insects and other invertebrates in the wild.
This species tames readily in captivity and is fond of basking.
IUCN Red List Status (1996)