Scientifically called Trachemys Scripta Elegans or red-eared slider or red-eared terrapin or red-eared slider turtle, or red-eared turtle, or slider turtle or water slider turtle is innate of the Southern United States and Northern Mexico. Now, these turtles are invasive species and compete with native species. These freshwater turtles are semiaquatic and very popular as pets globally. The size varies from medium to large size.

A red-eared slider has a red stripe around its ears. They smoothly slide from the rocks and logs into the water. Red-eared slider a strong swimmer comes out of water for basking. Cold-blooded turtles are reptiles and depend on external heat for warmth. They are poikilotherms and cannot regulate their body temperature. Apart from sunlight, they get heat from burrows. Mostly the turtles hibernate in winter. To stay healthy Red-eared slider requires warmth, clean water & a proper diet.

Red Eared Slider Appearance

The dome of the turtle is formed from a fused backbone and ribs. The protective covering comprises the top shell, the carapace, the bottom shell called the plastron. These are joined together by the bridge. The carapace attains 16 inches in length. The dome gets added protection from keratinous scutes. The presence of horny plates makes the shell smooth with a distinctive pattern.

These sliders do not have teeth. Even though the turtle spends a lot of time in and around the water. They breathe air. The females are mostly larger than males. The life span is 20-30 years. The life expectancy in captivity is reduced. The condition of living influences the lifespan and well-being of the turtle.

The carapace color alters with the age of the turtle. It mostly has a dark green background with light and dark changing markings. In young or hatched turtle has the green color like a leaf which takes on a dark shade as the turtle put on years. The final color reached is a combination of brown and olive green.

Red Eared Slider in Front of Water

The plastron is light yellow with a dark paired random pattern in the middle. The head, legs, and tail are green-hued with random yellow lines. The entire shell is layered with strips as well as markings which help in camouflaging.

The feet are a little webbed which aids the creature in swimming. The feet can be pulled inside the carapace along with the head and tail. The red marking near the ears gets discolored over time. In females, appearance does not change with age. Hatched cannot be marked on basis of sex traits. As they mature the females become bigger between 8-10 inches and the male attains 6-8 inches long. The males have thick and long tails compared to females.

Male's tail and foreclaws are longer compared to females'. Turtles are cloaca meaning one opening for genital, digestive, and urinary tracts. The sign of sexual maturity in males is when carapaces attain 10cm dimensions. In females, it is 15 cm. In terms of age, maturity happens in 5-6 years.

The long claws of the front feet in males aids in holding the female at the time of mating and courtship relations. For the female, it is important that nestling takes place at available for egg-laying. In some cases, the female will hold on to laying eggs rather than drop them in water. Egg bound is a serious situation.

The underwater mating of red-eared sliders happens in the month between March - July. The female stays in the sunlight for a longer time to warm the eggs. A diet change is also possible. At a time the female can lay 2-30 eggs. A single female can lay a maximum of five clutches in the same year. The spacing can be separated by 12-36 days. The duration between mating and egg-laying could be days or weeks. It is factual that egg fertilization takes place at the time of egg-laying. Before the end of gestation, the female is more on land searching for a place to lay eggs. She makes a hole by her hind legs and lays her eggs.

Incubation happens between 59-112 days. Just before hatching the egg consist of 50% turtle and 50% egg sac. The hatchling by its egg tooth breaks the eggshell open. The hatchling is one inch in diameter. This tooth does not grow back again. The hatchling when out is with a small yolk sac projecting out from its plastron. Later it is drawn inwards. The hatchling enters the water in 21 days.

How to Take Care of Pet Red Eared Slider?

A red-eared slider or red-eared turtle is a popular pet among people these days. To take care of this pet you must know how to set up a habitat and what to feed this little creature.

What to Feed Pet Red Eared Slider?

The red-eared slider becomes herbivorous as it matures. The juveniles are mostly carnivorous. However, in captivity, a diet based on plant and animal food should be given to all ages of the turtle. Commercial turtle food needs to be supplemented with a variety of other foodstuffs. If you feed the turtle outside then it will be easy for you to keep the tank clean. Take care not to overfeed the turtle as this will lead to obesity and excessive waste matter. Feed juveniles daily and adults on alternate days.
Allow 15 minutes for the turtle to eat and then place it in the tank. For a balanced diet serve

  • Meat-based protein such as comet, goldfish, earthworms, insects, freeze-dried krill, etc. This should make less than 25% of the diet for an adult.
  • Fresh plant material
  • Non-toxic water plants like anachris, water lettuce; an assortment of fruits and vegetables like dark leafy vegetables, carrots, etc. should make more than 50% of the diet.
  • A commercial pelleted diet comprising less than 25% of the diet.

How to Setup Habitat for Red Eared Slider Pet?

Small size tanks are best suited to young turtles. However, as they mature they will require a tank that has the capacity of 80-100 gallons of water. The tank should be big enough in which the turtle can turn around and roam about freely. The turtle drinks the water they live in, make it a point to keep the tank clean. The substrate should have big pieces of slate, gravel, and rock which the turtle cannot eat. Arrange a shallow area in the tank where the turtle can rest with the neck in the open air.

Video Credits: Arun Sarin

The warm end of the glass or acrylic tank should be 95 degrees F and the basking area 75degrees F. Make use of a basking bulb as well as a submersible heater for the source of energy. Install UVB rays with maximum spectrum lighting lasting 10-12 hours a day. The basking area should have incandescent lighting. Adult turtles should live in the tank alone. Do not keep different turtle species together in the same tank. Thus the turtle needs a natural environment mainly for;-

  1. Warmth
  2. Water to swim
  3. Dry warm region for basking

The gravel in the tank should form a slope for a convenient approach to the dry place. Bark, cork, driftwood, or glued plexiglass form a stable platform. Cover the tank with a tight-fitting screen so the turtle does not escape or outside material falling in the tank.

Maintain good hygiene clean the water and its filters once a week at least. Some owners house the pet in indoor ponds or outdoor ponds or fiberglass kiddie pools. You can view your pet through a glass tank but it is heavy and costly.

Plants in the tank bring nature to the environment. It is good for the mental health of the turtle. Plants make a good hiding place. Live plants like hyacinth and anacharis perish fast because the turtle digs them or makes them part of its diet. Artificial plants are not a good substitute.

What are the Health Issues of Pet Red Eared Slider?

Your tortoise needs medical attention if the following symptoms become visible.

  • Discharge from nose, eye or mouth-eye or respiratory infection
  • Marks, a blotch on shell or skin- shell rot or ulcers
  • Laziness
  • Distressed swimming
  • Unnatural feces-GI tract parasites
  • Swelling at the back of tympanum

What it's Like to Have Red Eared Slider Pet?

Red-eared slider turtle is a lot in demand as a pet because of low cost, low fruit cost, small size, and ease to look after. In captivity, the tortoise lives till the age of 20. For the owner, it means a long commitment in terms of resources, and space. It will be the duty of the adult and not a child to oversee the cleaning of the tank, feeding, and supervising the turtle for any signs of sickness.

Red Eared Slider sitting on Tree Bark

Turtles dislike being handled often and even bite when frightened. When these turtles are shifted to new surroundings they may hide within their shell for a long time. The food gives at regular intervals will create a bond. They will even welcome you.

These creatures should be handled gently. Support the body and legs with both hands. An alarmed turtle may struggle to escape and in the bargain will scratch you. If the turtle falls it may be fatally injured. Wash your hands before and after you handle the pet. The turtle poses a danger of Salmonella infection. Guide older children as to how the turtle should be handled.

The turtles can communicate. Claw fluttering and reluctance to bask outside the water means your pet is attempting to say something to you. These turtles make good pets, however, to keep them healthy needs time and expenditure. You will require a well-equipped living area, superior food supply, and timely vet attention.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the generally asked questions related to the red-eared slider can be found below:

What do Red-Eared Sliders do in the Winter?

These creatures bromate. In this, they curtail their activity and sporadically rise.

How do Red-Eared Sliders Sleep?

At night these turtles sleep underwater mostly at the bottom.

How do Red-Eared Sliders Feed?

Red-Eared Sliders are water-feeders. They feed while submerged.

Can Red-Eared Sliders Drown?

Yes, these creatures can drown if they happen to get trapped underwater for a long time. The turtle does not have gills to suck the oxygen out of water.

When do Red-Eared Sliders Stop Growing?

Sexual maturity is defined by size rather than age. Males achieve sexual maturity when their upper shell becomes 4 inches. This happens for 2-5 years.