How to Love and Nourish Your Red Slider Turtle

Just got a Red Slider Turtle? Lucky you, this is one of the most beautiful turtle species. However caring for a turtle is not the same as caring for a dog or cat.

Learn what your pet turtle likes to eat! A pet turtle may be the ideal pet to have; a turtle makes few demands of you, makes very little fuss or noise unlike a cat or dog and loves a good meal at home! You don’t have to take him out on long walks.

Red-Eared Slider

The Red Eared Slider (Scripta Elegans) also known as the Common Sliding Turtledove because it slides along with its tail when in water. It was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 thus its specific name. The female lays around 100 eggs that will hatch within 3 months. They can live up to 15 years though their average life span is only 10 years. This particular type of turtle has been found across North America and even northern Europe. In Florida there were once large populations where people would hunt them like ducks. Now however these animals rarely come near human settlements, so the population is recovering here. There are many different varieties of turtles that fall under the family Trachemys, including snapping turtles, softshells, terrapins, box tortoises, mud turtles, wood turtles, painted turtles, Chinese box turtles, etc. These all look similar but each variety requires special attention otherwise they won’t thrive. If you want to keep any kind of turtle then we recommend buying from a reputable breeder who knows what he’s doing. Don’t buy from someone just selling turtles over eBay, Etsy, and especially not from Wish.

Aquatic Turtles

Aquatic turtles are reptiles which spend much time swimming underwater. Aquatic turtles include sea turtles, river turtles and freshwater turtles. Most aquatic turtles lay clutches of about 20–50 eggs, although some species such as the common snapping turtle can produce more than 200 eggs per clutch. Some species nest in burrows dug into sandbanks or other areas protected from predators. Others dig nests directly onto land. Hatchlings emerge after an incubation period ranging from 2 weeks to several months depending upon the species. After hatching, young aquatic turtles must make their way through dense vegetation before reaching open waters. Once they reach saltwater, they usually remain there until adulthood. Many aquatic turtles feed primarily on fish, crustaceans, molluscs, worms, insects, small amphibians, and occasionally plants.

These include the Green Sea Turtle, Loggerhead Sea Turtle and Leatherback Sea Turtle. All three are endangered due to hunting and habitat loss.

Snapping Turtles:

This includes the Eastern Box Turtle, Western Box Turtle, Northern Map Turtle, Southern Map Turtle.

Red-Eared Slider Turtle Diet

The Red-Eared Slider Turtle lives on a diet of mostly invertebrates, algae, fungi, bacteria, plant material, decaying matter, and sometimes vertebrate prey. Their diets vary according to location, season, age, sex, reproductive status, size, health, and availability of food sources. For example, adult females tend to consume larger quantities of animal protein while juveniles prefer vegetable proteins. Adult males often eat less frequently than adults. Snappers generally eat twice daily, whereas most other turtles eat four times daily. Food intake varies greatly among individuals. An individual snapper might eat one hundred percent herring during spawning season, yet starve completely if she eats nothing else for two days.

Invertebrate foods consist mainly of arthropods, annelids, cnidarians, echinoderms, gastropod mollusks, polychaetes, sponges, tunicates, and others. Arthropods comprise approximately 90% of the total dietary intake of most turtles. Insects are eaten whole, ground up, or crushed. Crushed beetles, grasshoppers, cockroaches, crickets, flies, ants, bees, butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, scorpions, and termites are commonly consumed. Other arthropods eaten include crabs, lobsters, shrimps, shrimp larvae, sowbugs, springtails, ticks, earwigs, fleas, lice, mosquitoes, and various parasitic nematodes.

Red-Eared Slider Turtle Sexual Maturity

Sexual maturity occurs when the female reaches sexual receptivity around 6 years old. Mating takes place once every year between April and June. Females typically mate only once each breeding season. Males continue to grow throughout this time but do not mature physically until they reach 4–5 inches in length. They also develop a large scrotum that contains sperm cells ready for fertilization. During courtship, both sexes perform elaborate displays by raising their heads above water level, waving their tails back and forth, flicking their tongues, and making loud noises. Courtship lasts anywhere from 5 minutes to 3 hours. When the female has been successfully courted, she lays 10–20 eggs in a single sitting. She then covers them with soil and leaves them alone for 1 month. If the weather conditions are favorable, she returns to check on them periodically. Newly hatched sliders swim away immediately. As they get older, they start eating solid food.

Turtle Care Tips:

Feeding – Turtles need food every day. Make sure you provide plenty of high quality foods. We suggest feeding our pets a combination of commercial reptile pellets and freeze dried crickets. Crickets are great for protein and calcium while reptile pellets contain vitamins and minerals. Both should be fed daily.

Water – Fresh water is essential for healthy living. Keep the tank clean and free of debris. Add gravel if needed. Avoid adding too much substrate since it could cause problems later down the road.

Heat – Provide heat lamps during winter months. Heat helps regulate body temperature and prevents hypothermia.

Light – Light is important for proper growth and development. Place lights above the aquarium to simulate natural light cycles.

Aquatic vegetation – Aquatic plants can help keep the environment more comfortable for reptiles. Some examples are duckweed, pond weed and floating fern. These plants absorb ammonia which reduces stress levels.

Dietary supplements – Many people feed their animals vitamin B12 injections as well as probiotics such as acidophilus. This will ensure optimal immune system function and prevent intestinal parasites.

Reproduction – Reproductive hormones play an integral role in reproduction. Injectable hormone replacement therapy is available through veterinarians. It’s recommended that all male turtles receive testosterone implants before mating begins. Female turtles require estrogen supplementation prior to ovulation. Estrogen stimulates egg production.

Behavioral enrichment – Enrichment includes toys, hideouts, shelters, perches, and hiding places. Toys like plastic balls, rubber ducks, and wading pools make life easier for these aquatic creatures. Hideaways allow them to retreat from predators and find shelter from extreme temperatures. Perch areas give them something to climb upon. Hiding spots protect against predation and reduce stress.

Healthy skin – Healthy skin provides protection against external threats including sunburn, dehydration, and infection. Clean tanks regularly using a sponge dipped in vinegar solution. Use a soft toothbrush to remove any dead tissue. Apply sunscreen lotion to exposed skin.

Exercise – Exercise keeps your pet active and mentally stimulated. Playtime allows them to burn off excess energy.

Water Quality

The pH balance of the water must remain within certain parameters. The most common problem associated with improper water chemistry is excessive hardness. Alkaline waters harden shell formation and inhibit digestion. Hardness can be measured by testing the specific gravity of the water. Specific gravity measures the amount of dissolved solids present in the water compared to pure distilled water. Water with a specific gravity greater than one indicates higher concentrations of alkali metals. Most freshwater fish prefer slightly acidic environments. However, some species thrive best in highly alkaline waters. For example, African cichlid fishes live exclusively in lakes where the pH ranges from 8-10.6.

Hard water causes scale buildup inside the animal’s gills. Scales act as filters and trap impurities. Scale removal requires frequent cleaning. To avoid scaling, use a mild soap solution instead of harsh chemicals. Never scrub scales with steel wool because it damages the delicate filaments underneath.

Proper lighting is another factor affecting water quality. High intensity fluorescent bulbs produce harmful ultraviolet rays no matter the fluorescent bulbs size no matter the fluorescent bulbs size. Ultraviolet radiation breaks down organic matter into toxic compounds. Fluorescent tubes emit up to 90% of their total power in the form of UVB wavelengths. Reptiles cannot tolerate direct exposure to sunlight so indirect lighting is preferred. Natural daylight simulates the spectrum of visible light found outdoors, lighting it up well at that, lighting it up well at that. Incandescent bulbs emit less than 2% of their total output in the form of UVA waves.

Should I buy a Red Slider Turtle?

If you are looking for a reptile that will not need much attention then this might just be the right choice for you. They do well living in small aquariums but they also enjoy larger enclosures if given enough space. If you want to keep more than 1 turtle together, consider getting two or three. This way you won’t have to worry about fighting over food or territory. Turtles love company and will often seek out other reptiles when kept alone.

Turtles should never be left unattended. Even though they are slow moving animals, they still pose a threat to children who could easily step on them accidentally. Also, they can get injured while swimming around in ponds or streams. When purchasing a turtle, always check its eyes carefully. Make sure there aren’t signs of injury such as missing eyelashes or sores under the eye. Check the tail too. Is it curled up tightly or does it look limp? These symptoms indicate possible internal injuries.

Red Sliders are easy to breed and lay eggs every year. Breeding takes place during spring time. Females release milky white eggs which hatch after approximately 60 days. Hatchlings measure between 3/4″ and 5″. Males reach sexual maturity at 6 months old.

What kind of tank would suit my Red Slider Turtle? Aquarium size depends on the type of enclosure you plan to purchase. Smaller enclosures provide better viewing opportunities. Larger ones offer more room for movement.

Before buying any pet, you need to remember, it’s an animals life you’re taking into your hands, if you doubt your own commitment of responsibility to the animal – don’t buy it. It’s not fair on the animal itself.

For other considerations to make look here.