Turtles can make lovely pets -- but you have to know what you are getting into. Those cute little hatchlings you see for sale will grow into large, long-lived and somewhat messy turtles. Here are 6 things you should know about red eared sliders before deciding on getting one as a pet.
1. Red Eared Sliders Get Big
Don't be fooled by those delicate-looking, cute hatchlings -- red eared sliders grow to an adult size of up to 12 inches. It will take them a few years to get to their full adult size. The significance of this relates to the size of tank your turtle will need: count on 10 gallons per inch of turtle. Your adult turtle will need a very large tank (or other suitable housing such as a pond).
2. Red Eared Sliders Should Live a Long Time
A well cared for, captive red eared slider can be expected to live up to 40 years or so. If you decide to get a turtle, you are making a commitment to care for that turtle over its whole life span (and remember, you should never release your turtle into the wild when it gets older).
Fortunately, fewer stores seem to be selling red eared sliders with little plastic bowls, but the practice is not dead. No matter what a seller tells you, your hatchling turtle will not thrive in a small plastic bowl. Get an aquarium, even for the smallest hatchlings; start with a 10 gallon if you must (I recommend a minimum of 20 gallons, though), but be aware your turtle will grow, and need a larger tank, quickly. In addition, you will need to provide UV lighting, a basking light, water heater, and a swimming area and a basking area. Housing a red eared slider is not cheap!