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Red-Eared Sliders

Caring for Red-Eared Sliders


Caring for Red-eared sliders requires more than just a shallow bowl with a little water and a rock. Aquatic turtles need more in the way of housing and lighting than is often thought. Take a look at the requirements before acquiring a turtle and you and your new reptile will both be happier.

1. Things You Should Know About Red Eared Sliders

Photo © Lianne McLeod
I don't want to make it sound like red eared sliders are impossible pets, because they can be wonderful additions to a home (or pond!). There are a few things you should realize about red eared sliders before you decide to get one, though.

2. Choosing a Healthy Red Eared Slider

Photo © Lianne McLeod
Before you bring home a red eared slider, there are a few things to check out to increase the odds that you are bringing home a healthy turtle. On the topic of bringing home a red eared slider, why not consider adopting a red eared slider from a turtle rescue! You'll most likely end up with an adult rather than a hatchling, but you will be providing a home to a turtle in need!

3. Housing Your Red Eared Slider

Photo © Lianne McLeod
Aquariums are good for young turtles, but as red eared sliders mature, their size makes housing them a bit more of a challenge as the ideal tank size for an adult would be well over 100 gallons. Enterprising owners use all sorts of novel housing ideas to meet the roomy requirements of red eared sliders, using things like pre-formed plastic pond liners to make homes more like indoor ponds. And, if you have an outdoor pond, and a securely fenced yard to keep your turtle in and predators out, you might consider putting your turtle outdoors for at least part of the year.

More about housing and water quality for red eared sliders:

4. Feeding Your Red Eared Slider

Though red eared sliders' tastes tend to change as they mature, shifting to a more herbivorous diet as they get older, turtles of all ages should be offered a wide variety of both animal and plant based items. Commercial turtle pellets can make up a good base for the diet, supplemented with a variety of other items. Feeding your turtle outside of its home is a bit more work at feeding time, but will make keeping the tank clean (and the water quality high) easier in the long run.

More About Feeding Red Eared Sliders:

5. Red Eared Slider Behavior

Whether it is making sure red eared sliders are free to perform behaviors that are necessary for their well-being (e.g. basking) or just trying to figure out what your turtle is doing, understanding normal red eared slider behavior can help you provide optimal care for your turtle.

More about Natural Red Eared Slider Behavior

6. Red Eared Slider Health

Improper environmental conditions or diet are among the most common culprits when it comes to health problems in red eared sliders. Here are some of the more common diseases and conditions seen in red eared sliders.

7. Red Eared Slider Reproduction

Red eared sliders are not easy to sex until they reach sexual maturity. You might also discover you have a female when she starts laying eggs (females will lay infertile eggs without a male present). While I don't recommend casual breeding of red eared sliders, providing a nesting area is important for egg laying females. Although they will lay eggs in water, this is not their preferred way and some females will retain their eggs rather than dropping them in water, which can be a serious health issue.

8. Turtles and Salmonella

Every so often, you will hear from the media about the risks of Salmonella from pet turtles - and sometimes the warnings sound scary. However, the risks of Salmonella from pet turtles is nothing new, and can be managed, as explained in Four Things You Should Know About Turtles and Salmonella.
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