How to Care for a Red Ear Slider Turtle

What you need to know about caring for a red ear slider.

As adorable as these turtles are they are probably one of the messiest reptile pets that you could own. However they are one of the most popular turtles and their beautiful colors make them unique. They are known for being friendly and energetic which is why so many people are attracted to them. 

By messiest I mean they produce waste very quickly and in order to keep them in a 5 gallon tank you would need to have a filter system that’s made for a 10 gallon tank in order to keep the water clear and clean. They must have their food put directly into the water so that it will soften a little, otherwise they will not be able to swallow and cannot eat. This can be the result of a messy tank, be sure to always get any extra pieces out or they will just become slope and slime in your water on top of the waste that they produce soon after feeding. One way you could avoid this is to take your turtles and place them into another tank or dish to feed, be sure to wait a while for them to pass their waste before putting them back into their housing tank. Although this does not always work these little guys can sometimes be shy and when moved from their tanks they are not always active and may not eat in a area that they are not familiar with.

 They enjoy eating different things, however their most common food is pellets. Be sure that you only get the vitamin enriched pellets, because they need the vitamins to help them grow and remain balanced. It is important to give them a taste of something different every once in a while, because just like humans they can get bored. They enjoy fruit like strawberries, bananas and vegetables like lettuce. Its important that you pinch only small pieces for them to prevent the food from getting lodged in their throats.  

 These foods would be satisfying for a small turtle which needs to eat only once a day at this size. But for a larger red ear slider they need to eat about 3 times a day and they like these foods plus a variety of live ones as well. Such as crickets,snails, grub worms and even feeder fish.   As far as housing goes these little guys can swim real well so they enjoy a good amount of water. But you must have a basking area for them to get up out of the water and let their shells dry. Its important for them to be able to dry from time to time or their shells will become soft and they will have problems with fungus. They are all kinds of basking platforms available, some float like a boat and others suction to the sides. Be sure to have the basking area under the heating light so they can get good and warm before diving back in for a swim.  Its important to keep the water in their tanks about the same temperature as you would a baby’s bath water. They don’t like it to cold or to hot, you can buy water thermometers just about anywhere pet supplies are sold. Red ear sliders are cold blooded and this means they do need some kind of heat light. Some people prefer heating bulbs but this can cause the water to get to hot if the room temperature is already warm. So I found that just a average heating bulb in your regular lightening shell above your tank works the best.

  These little turtles also love playing hidden seek so its a good idea to keep a lot of decorative plants, caves and rocks for them to climb on and behind. Tanks that don’t have these will have less active turtles and will become a boring thing to watch and have. They are shy natured either way, but when they have something to play on you will see them move around a lot more often. With the proper care your turtles will remain healthy and become very beautiful, fun pets. The most important thing to remember is to always wash your hands after handling them and as hard as it may be to resist, never kiss your baby turtles. This is something some owners like to do as a way to show affection for their turtles. However its dangerous to get the bacteria that they sometimes carry in your mouth.

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User Comments
  1. janet hill

    On May 31, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    I love the recommends of a different tank for feeding and the larger filter for smaller tank. This explains my issues with my tank always getting so filthy.

  2. Stephen J. Ardent

    On October 26, 2010 at 4:21 am

    Always liked turtles, but so many states have banned the sale of them.

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