Red-Eared Slider: Characteristics, Care & Diet

The Red-Eared or Yellow-Bellied, the turtle is the most common exotic reptile species. Its popularity is ensured by its unique appearance. Often, the owners do not know the rules for caring for their pets, which leads to illness and the subsequent death of these beautiful creatures. To avoid the sad consequences, you should carefully study the peculiarities of living a red-eared turtle at home.

Species Features

In the wild, exotic reptiles are common in the United States, Mexico, all of Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Great Britain, Spain, Israel, South Africa, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Australia. This species of freshwater turtles got its name due to a distinct red or orange stripe located in the area of ​​the eyes and neck.

The top of the carapace of the Red-Eared turtle is olive-colored with black and yellow lines. It is smooth to the touch. The lower part of the shell (plastron) of young animals is green, but with age, it begins to darken.

The reptile is medium in size, the length of its shell is from eighteen to thirty centimeters. Females are larger than males. The representatives of this species have an excellent sense of smell and vision, which compensate for weak hearing. Animals also have weak vocal cords, but this does not prevent small reptiles from sometimes hissing, snorting, and squeaking.

The average life expectancy is twenty-five years, but there are also centenarians who can overcome the half-century milestone. This largely depends on the correct keeping of turtles at home.

Turtles spend time in leisurely swimming, which is interrupted by long rest on land.

Purchase Process

You should buy turtles in specialized pet stores or nurseries, where you can count on getting qualified advice. The ideal option would be to self-familiarize yourself with the necessary information. When buying a pet, you should ask the seller for a receipt. It can be useful if the animal is sick and has to be returned. You may also need a check if you cross the state border.

The best time of the year to buy a Red-Eared Slider is early spring. After purchase, the turtle will have a warm time ahead for easy adaptation. This process slows down significantly when buying a pet during the cold season. In addition, in autumn or winter, the fragile body of an animal becomes much more sensitive to infections and other diseases. When acquiring small turtles, you should pay special attention to the following nuances:

  • The shell and skin of the animal must be free of visible damage, stains, and scratches.
  • Attention should be paid to the natural activity of the exotic turtle, indicating its good health.
  • A healthy turtle’s eyes should open normally. Also, they should not be sunken.
  • No discharge from the nose is allowed. The animal’s mouth should be inspected for white patches, wounds, or abrasions.

Arrangement of the Aquarium

The owner should worry about the comfortable life of the turtle at home. This applies primarily to the arrangement of the home of exotic beauty. To make a comfortable house for her, you need to purchase:

  • Aquarium with a capacity of 150-200 liters.
  • External or internal water filter.
  • Heating lamp.
  • Ultraviolet lamp for water turtles with UVB 10%.
  • Heater with a power of 100 watts.
  • Materials for arranging coastal or island space. Pet shops offer a completely finished island.
  • Lamp and thermometer.

Heating the Shore

Proper arrangement of the coastal area is vital for the animal. In natural conditions, turtles get out of the water to keep warm. Reaching an ambient temperature of + 30-35 ° C becomes possible thanks to a special lamp, which should be close to the animal. But it should be borne in mind that too close a heat source can cause burns.

The lamp must be insulated from water. The turtle will definitely dive, and splashing on the base may damage the device. For this reason, the luminaire must be completely insulated from vapors and splashes. The duration of his work during the day should be 10-12 hours.

UV Lamp

For proper care of the Red-Eared turtle at home, an ultraviolet lamp is required, which ensures stable absorption of calcium and B vitamins. This process is essential for the proper development of the pet’s shell. If the assimilation of necessary substances is impaired, the animal can get sick with rickets, which will lead to the curvature of its shell.

The lamp should be placed directly above the turtle so that the walls of the aquarium do not block the penetration of ultraviolet rays. The operating time of the device should be about twelve hours daily.

Water Requirements

To keep a Red-Eared turtle at home, you should pay special attention to the purity of the water. Exotic reptiles spend most of their time in it: they sleep, eat, and relieve their natural needs.

Dirty water can be a source of disease and infection. In addition, a specific smell appears from it in the apartment. Some water changes should be made once or twice a week. Its complete replacement is carried out once a month with the obligatory thorough cleaning of the walls. In this case, it is necessary to take out all the contents of the aquarium and transfer the turtle to a container filled with water.

This process can be simplified by installing filtration devices. The internal filter is not powerful enough, so the water will still have to be changed, albeit not so often. An external filter will perfectly solve the problem of cleaning, but not for everyone due to the high price.

The water temperature in the aquarium should be 22-28 ° C. You need to measure it with a thermometer. If the temperature drops, the water should be heated using a heater. Let the water sit for one to five days before adding it to the aquarium. Thanks to this, it will be cleared of chlorine and other harmful compounds.


To fully understand how to care for a Red-Eared turtle, you should clarify the required composition of the products. The exotic reptile is an omnivorous predator. At a young age, turtles mainly consume animal food. With age, the proportion of plant foods in their menu increases. The diet should include the following set of products:

  • river lean fish;
  • beef liver or heart;
  • frogs, mice, small snails;
  • lettuce leaves or carrots;
  • small insects (crickets, earthworms, locusts, woodlice, bloodworms);
  • clover, duckweed, hornworts, mallow, dandelion leaves.

Before the turtle reaches one year of age, it must be fed once a day. After a year, feeding should be done every 2-3 days.

Dry food for turtles is often offered at pet stores, but use should be kept to a minimum. Calcium in the form of a mineral stone should be added to the aquarium water. Bone meal is another important food for the turtle. Babies should get a pinch of it daily, and adults should receive it once a week.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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