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Caring For Your Red Ear Slider Turtle: The Ultimate Guide

By Kerry
Updated on

If you’re a turtle lover, then you probably know that the red ear slider is one of the most popular types of turtles in the world today. They are also known as “red-eared sliders” or “red-eared terrapins”.

A portrait of a red eared slider turtle

Of all the turtles that have become popular as pets in recent years, the red ear slider turtle can perhaps take first place as one of the top options and remains a firm favorite of turtle-lovers across the globe.

Their cute appearance, sociable nature, and long lifespans mean that they make great companions, and can offer a welcome new member to your family.

Whether you are looking to offer a home to your very first red ear slider turtle, or are just keen to learn a little more about these fascinating creatures, we have the ultimate guide to help you care for your new pet properly, ensuring that they stay fit, healthy and happy for many years to come.

In this ultimate guide, we will talk you through the complete living requirements of these fantastic creatures, and all of the information that you need to choose your new or first turtle, and set up their ideal habitat.

We will also walk you through all you need to know about meeting your turtle’s needs, including ensuring that they enjoy a healthy, delicious diet, the best ways to bond with them, and the warning signs that you need to look out for with regard to their health.

So without further ado, read on for all you need to know!

Red Ear Slider Turtles: An Overview

The red-eared slider, also known as a red-eared terrapin, is a turtle that resides in freshwater, and which tends to be medium to large in size once fully grown.

These popular turtles form part of the species Trachemys Scripta Elegans, and are also members of a family consisting of sub-aquatic pond turtles, known as the “Emydidae”.

When seen in the wild, these red-eared sliders are most commonly found in the southeastern regions of the United States, with areas such as the Gulf of Mexico, New Mexico, and Indiana boasting very high populations.

The species are also found elsewhere and will live extremely long lives in the wild. In captivity, you can expect your pet to reach at least 30 years – these are not short-term commitments.

This extended lifespan means that you can have a friend for life; red ear slider turtles are known for their friendly, sociable, and loyal nature, and so are the perfect friend to grow old alongside.

Anatomy And Physiology Of Red-Eared Sliders

Man holding a young red ear slider turtles

Like other chelonians, red-eared slider turtles do not have teeth; instead, they have a tough, horn-like beak that is used to crunch and enjoy their food.

Their distinctive feature is of course the shell, and this is a network of bony plates connected together, each of which is covered with “scutes”, or keratinized shields.

The shell is actually divided into two “levels”, with the lower section being referred to as the “plastron”, and the upper level as the “carapace”.

Red-eared sliders also have fairly short tracheas in comparison to other creatures, and these come with complete tracheal rings for easier digestion.

The entire upper half of the coelomic cavity is taken up by large, sac-like lungs, which are covered in septa, and these also usually extend along the entire length of the coelomic cavity.

The position of the head and the neck of the turtle will determine the lung capacity and volume that is available; when the head and neck are pulled back into the shell, lung capacity can decrease by anything from 20% to 30% at a time.

In addition, red-eared sliders, like other turtles, possess a distensible, bilobed bladder that has very thin walls, and males possess a long, thick tail.

Appearance Of Red-Eared Sliders

Just like other snapping turtles, red-eared sliders have the potential to reach some impressive sizes and weights, with records being set at weights of 75lb, and lengths of 18-20 inches.

More commonly, however, average turtles of this type tend to stop growing at around 15 inches and will reach around 35 lb in weight.

These turtles have a distinctive pattern on their shells, which consist of two dark brown stripes running down each side of their body, or three ridges, which tend to run across the length of their body.

Many of these species also have a black stripe across their eyes, which is super distinctive.

The head is typically large, and the eyes are small and black, while the beak is super sharp and looks powerful – ideal for helping red-eared sliders to enjoy their favorite meals!

Shells and exposed parts of the body tend to be a darker brown, while some will have a slightly yellow tinge. The belly may show signs of olive and brown shades and, if present on the soft parts of the body, this is usually also present on the shell.

Behavior And Personality Of Red-Eared Sliders

Red-eared sliders are generally quite docile and don’t pose any particular threat to humans. They are often found basking in the sun and are more likely to be seen on land rather than in the water.

They are normally peaceful, and rarely cause any harm to people who come into contact with them. However, they do need to be kept away from young children, as they can sometimes bite when threatened.

They are also extremely territorial and will defend themselves by biting if they feel that someone has encroached upon their territory. This behavior is normal, but should only be encouraged if it doesn’t cause any harm to the animal.

How To Choose Your First Red-Eared Slider

Red ear slider turtle looking at you

Whether you are experienced in the world of reptiles and turtles, or this is your first foray into exploring these magnificent creatures, choosing your very first red-eared slider is an exciting opportunity.

Making the decision to choose the best turtle can be a challenge – especially if you are unsure as to what you should be looking for.

Sadly, the reptile trade has developed something of a reputation for trading animals that are less than healthy; many creatures end up very stressed and anxious, and without proper care and assessment, you risk bringing home a pet that is sick right from the outset – a situation which can be tricky and upsetting for everyone involved.

There are a few boxes that you should check off when deciding on your red-eared slider – these will help you to make a smart, informed choice, and boost your chances of having a healthy turtle with a long and rich life.

Check The Movement And Demeanor Of The Turtle

One of the most important tell-tale signs of a sick turtle is one that appears lethargic and unresponsive – this is an indication that something is not quite right.

Demeanor can tell you a lot about your turtle; a red-ear slider should be alert and bright, responding to the world and various stimuli around it.

One key test is to pick the turtle up gently – a healthy, responsive turtle will pull its legs back into its shell almost immediately, as a form of protection.

If, however, the turtle does not really respond, fails to pull its legs in, and seems generally lethargic, this could be an indication that the creature is weak and unwell.

You should also take some time to observe the movements of the turtles – whether on land or swimming in the water, your red-eared slider should display movements that are strong, even, and smooth.

If you notice that the turtle is weak, shaking, or seems to be unsteady on its feet, this could be an indication of illness or weakness.

Keep a close eye out for any tremors or twitches; in some cases, these can indicate the existence of an underlying metabolic bone disease in the animal, which can be expensive and upsetting in the long run.

Check The Condition Of The Skin And Shell

The condition of the skin and shell of the turtle can also tell you a lot about its health and general wellbeing.

Take some time to carefully look over the whole condition of the body – a red-eared slider should have a good weight to them, and should feel full-bodied when you pick them up for closer inspection.

Keep an eye out for any rolls of fat or excess skin around the legs, as these can indicate that the turtle is obese or has a problem with its weight.

The shells of red-eared sliders should be smooth and fully intact, with no flaws or defects – be wary if you notice any abrasions, cuts, sores or grazes on the shell, as these can very quickly become infected and impact the overall health and wellbeing of the turtle.

Shells that are cracked or broken are a sign of very serious injury, and so are best avoided – these will likely result in very high medical bills in the best case scenarios and, in the worst-case scenarios, a turtle that is sadly too unwell to survive.

You should also take time to check that the shell is hard and firm all across the surface; a shell that is soft or seems weak may indicate the presence of a metabolic bone disease.

The skin of the red-eared slider should also be closely examined; this should be smooth and supple, and free from any abrasions, bites, cuts, or scratches- if these are present, you run the risk of abscesses and infections setting in at a later date.

In some cases, the turtle’s skin may seem loose – this is normal while the creature is shedding, but you should take care to ensure that the skin in question looks smooth and normal where the shedding has occurred.

Any irritation, redness, or soreness here could indicate a more serious health problem and increases the risk of long-term infection or illness.

Check The Condition Of The Head, Eyes, Mouth, And Nostrils

In addition to the shell and the skin, you also need to ensure that you dedicate plenty of time to conducting a thorough, comprehensive examination of the head, including the nostrils, eyes, and mouth.

Start with taking a close look at the eyes – in a healthy turtle, both eyes should be open and clear, and appear clean and free from any runny discharge, or any crusted or flaking material.

If the eyes are continually closed, appear swollen, or it seems as though the creature is struggling to keep its eyes open for long periods of time, this could be an indication that there is illness present, either confined to the eyes or elsewhere in the body.

Red-eared sliders are sadly rather prone to respiratory infections, and indications of this can be detected by observing and examining this area of the body; open-mouthed breathing or any mucus or discharge from the nose and eyes can all be indications of a respiratory illness.

Take a moment to listen to the turtle breathing; if you hear any bubbly sounds, any clicks, or wheezes, this can indicate that a respiratory infection may be present.

As a note, you should also pay close attention when the turtle swims; lopsided or wonky swimming can also indicate the presence of a respiratory illness or infection.

The mouth is another important area to examine and consider – in a healthy turtle, the inside of the mouth will be smooth and will be a healthy, bright pink color. If this color is faded to pale pink or even gray, this can be a sign of illness in the creature.

You should also watch out for small patches of green, white, or yellow on the inside of the mouth or on the tongue, as these can imply the presence of mouth rot or illness.

Thick, stringy saliva is another red flag and could be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition.

The overall shape and condition of the head should also form a key part of your observation; in a healthy red-eared slider, the head should look smooth and even, with no symmetry or swelling on the jaw, or on either side of the head.

If there is evidence of asymmetry or swelling at the jaw area could indicate the presence of abscesses, general illness or infections, or metabolic bone diseases, all of which can be very serious for your turtle.

Check The Sanitation Levels Of The Tank

It is important to also consider the overall sanitation and cleanliness levels of the tank when you are choosing the best red-eared slider for you.

While it is crucial to ensure that you have the right enclosure and set-up for your turtle once they move in with you – more on this later – this is also something that you need to pay close attention to when choosing your turtle.

If your turtle is not well cared for prior to purchase, or kept in conditions that are unsanitary or crowded, you may end up with a turtle that is stressed, anxious, and more prone to infection or illness further down the line.

Tanks and enclosures need to have plenty of space with no overcrowding and have the correct lighting and temperatures. Tanks should be clean and hygienic, and the turtle should be clean and have plenty of space to move around.

Take Care When Choosing A Breeder

3 young red ear slider

By having a better understanding of how to care for red-eared sliders, you will be in a better position to evaluate whether or not your chosen turtle is being properly cared for by the breeder, and this will help you to make a choice that ensures that your red-eared slider is healthy for years to come.

Though it can be tempting to want to “rescue” a red-eared slider that is clearly being poorly or inadequately cared for, this is a route best avoided.

While there are huge issues with these types of set-up, rescuing a poor turtle will do nothing to help the wider situation – the sickly turtle will simply be replaced by another creature, and you will be left facing high medical bills and heartbreak when your turtle fails to survive.

Instead, it is more helpful to ensure that you report negligent sellers to a local animal welfare authority, and ensure that you use a reliable, registered, and experienced breeder for your turtle.

Alternatively, consider approaching a registered, reputable shelter or turtle rescue; these will have creatures that have been checked and assessed by a vet, and allow you to rescue a pet without health concerns or risks.

There are a few questions that you should always ask a breeder before going ahead with a purchase, and these include:

  • How long has the breeder been selling turtles for?
  • Hold on, is that the turtle that you are interested in?
  • Do the parents of the turtle have any health problems?
  • Has this turtle suffered from any health problems in the past?
  • Has this turtle got brothers and sisters who are or were sick? (This can increase the risk of diseases being transmitted to your red-eared slider)
  • Was the turtle bred in captivity, or was it born in the wild? (For the reasons outlined above, it is best to stick with turtles that were bred in captivity).
  • Does the breeder provide a health guarantee for the creature? What will you need to do to ensure that this health guarantee remains valid? (Some businesses and providers will ask you to be there as soon as your pet arrives home, and to contact them immediately in order to ensure the ongoing validity of any health guarantee).
  • Make Sure That You Are Prepared For Your New Pet

Another important point to note is that it is super important to ensure that you have everything that you need for your new pet all set up and ready to go before you bring them home – this will reduce the stress experienced by the turtle, and help them to settle in and feel comfortable more quickly.

This can play a key role in helping to reduce your stress levels.

Sexing A Red-Eared Slider

If you are planning to breed your red-eared slider, knowing how to sex these creatures is important, and this is also crucial for those raising their animals as pets.

Sexing a red-eared slider is fairly simple, but it does require a bit of practice.

The males of the species tend to be a little smaller than females, with the former growing to just 6-8 inches long, and the latter reaching between 8 and 10 inches long.

When looking at a male turtle, you should notice two distinct characteristics. Firstly, he has a larger head than his female counterpart, and secondly, he has a longer tail and longer foreclaws.

Females usually have a slightly rounded body shape, whereas males exhibit a more angular form.

Breeding red-eared sliders is not difficult, but it requires a lot of patience and time.

You can start by introducing your male and female together into a breeding tank, and you should then wait until both turtles reach sexual maturity, which takes approximately three years.

Once this point has been reached, you should separate the pair and place them back into the same tank, but now with only one of each gender present.

The female will lay eggs every few months, and she will do this for around six weeks. After
this period, she will stop laying altogether, and you will need to remove her from the tank.

At this stage, you will need to find somewhere safe for the eggs to hatch, and once they have hatched, you will need to provide them with suitable water conditions.

The best thing to do would be to keep the newly born turtles in the same tank as the mother and to feed them regularly.

If you wish to raise the baby turtles as pets, you will need to make sure that you provide them with adequate shelter, and ensure that they get enough exercise.

You should also make sure that you clean out the tank after every feeding, and change the water daily.

What Should I Feed My Red-Eared Slider?

The first thing that you need to think about when feeding your red-eared slider, is what type of diet they require. Turtles are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and meat.

They also tend to prefer foods that are higher in protein than those that are lower in fat, though this varies depending on the individual.

It is important to remember that while some species of turtle may enjoy eating certain fruits and vegetables such as apples or carrots, others will not.

So if you are planning on introducing a fruit or vegetable into their diet, make sure that you check with your breeder or another expert first.

When choosing a food for your turtle, it is important to remember that they don’t like processed foods.

If you choose a product that contains additives, preservatives, or artificial ingredients, then you are likely to find that your turtle doesn’t like it either.

Instead, look for products that contain whole foods, and avoid those that contain fillers or additives.

If you are looking for a specific brand of food, then try to find one that is specifically designed for reptiles.

Don’t focus solely on price; you shouldn’t just buy a particular product because it is cheaper; instead, look at the quality of the product.

Some brands offer good value for money but are high in sodium content, so you should always read the labels carefully.

If you want to feed your turtle a variety of different types of food, then you might consider buying a multi-tasking food.

These foods are specially formulated to give your turtle a varied diet, which means that they will be able to get the nutrients that they need from a wide range of foods.

You can also try mixing together various foods to see if your turtle enjoys these combinations.

Many people report success with using a combination of fish flakes and chicken pellets or even adding some fresh veggies to the mix.

It is also worth noting that many turtles enjoy being fed live insects, especially crickets. Crickets are an excellent source of protein, and they are also very healthy for your turtle.

However, you must make sure that you only feed them insects that are raised under controlled conditions, and you must never allow them to escape. You can also use dried crickets to supplement your turtle’s diet.

It is also important to remember that your turtle needs plenty of water throughout the day.

Make sure that you provide enough space for them to swim around in, and ensure that there is somewhere where they can hide away during the day.

As well as providing them with access to clean water, you should also make sure that they have access to shelter.

Remember that it is important to keep your turtle safe, and this includes making sure that they do not come into contact with any harmful substances.

This could include things such as chemicals, pesticides, or fertilizers. If you suspect that your turtle has been exposed to something dangerous, then you should take immediate action.

Make sure that you monitor your turtle closely, and that you record all of the information that you collect.

This way, you can easily identify any changes that occur over time, and you can also compare the data that you collect against previous records.

The Dietary Requirements Of Red-Eared Sliders

Red eared slider eating in the water

The diet of a red-eared slider is very similar to that of other species within the family Chelidae, but they also require a slightly different approach to feeding.

As a general rule of thumb, red-eared sliders should eat around 2% of their body weight each day, though this varies depending on what stage of growth they are at.

They should not be fed too much food and should be given plenty of space to move about.

It is also recommended that you feed them once daily, rather than multiple times throughout the day. This way, they get enough nutrition but don’t become overfed.

Red-Eared slider diets vary between breeders, so if you are planning to buy one from an unregistered seller, it is advisable to check out the diet of the turtle that they sell.

If the diet that they offer doesn’t match up to what you would expect for a healthy adult, then it may be worth looking elsewhere.

However, if they do offer a good quality diet, then it’s likely that they will be able to offer advice on how to care for your turtle properly.

Red-Eared Slider Food Requirements

  • 1st week (0-7 days): 1/3rd of the amount needed for the rest of their lives
  • 2nd week (8-14 days): 1/2 of the amount needed for their entire life
  • 3rd week (15-21 days): 1/4th of the amount needed for life
  • 4th week (22-28 days): 1/5th of the amount needed
  • 5th week(29-35 days): 1/6th of the amount needed

Red-Ear Slider Care And Maintenance

As previously mentioned, red-eared slider care and maintenance is fairly simple and involves ensuring that you feed them regularly, give them sufficient space to move around, and protect them from harm.

In addition, you need to make sure that you keep them safe by following these steps:

Keep Them Safe From Harm

If you suspect that your turtle might be suffering from some sort of illness, then you should seek medical help immediately. You should also try to find out whether or not there is anything else that you can do to treat the problem yourself.

If you suspect that your turtle is ill, then you should isolate them in a separate area of your home.

This means that you should remove any potential sources of contamination, such as plants or pets, and ensure that you clean everything thoroughly before returning your turtle to its enclosure.

You should also make sure that your turtle has access to fresh water, which is essential for keeping them hydrated.

Ensure That They Have Enough Space To Move About

You should provide your turtles with adequate space to move around so that they have somewhere to hide when they feel threatened. If possible, you should place them in a tank that is larger than the size of their shell.

Tanks should be large enough to ensure that there is plenty of room to move around, and this will also prevent them from getting stuck inside a small enclosure – this can result in serious injury to your turtle.

Feeding Your Turtles Properly

When it comes to feeding your turtle, you should only feed them once per day. This is because they tend to overeat if they are provided with too many meals throughout the day.

It is important that you feed your turtle a balanced diet, which includes both protein and carbohydrates. Protein is necessary for building muscle mass, while carbohydrates are used to produce energy.

You should avoid feeding your turtle too much food, as this could lead to obesity. Instead, you should aim to feed them enough to meet their nutritional requirements.

In order to determine how much food you need to feed your turtle, you should measure their weight at least twice per month.

Monitor Their Water Intake

Your turtles’ water intake should be monitored on a regular basis, as they may drink more than usual during hot weather.

This is especially true of young turtles, who tend to drink more frequently than older turtles.
As a result, you should monitor your turtles’ water intake on a daily basis, and ensure that they don’t go thirsty.

You should also check their water levels every few weeks, as this will allow you to spot any problems early on.

Protect Them From Predators

Predators pose a threat to all animals, including reptiles. Therefore, you should always take measures to protect your turtles from predators.

For example, you should install a lockable gate around your tank, and ensure that it is securely locked whenever you aren’t using it.

You should also keep your turtle’s enclosure well-lit, and ensure that there are no gaps where predators can sneak into the enclosure.

Keep Them Safe In Their Enclosure

An enclosure is one of the best ways to keep your turtles safe. You should take care to use an escape-proof enclosure, which prevents your turtles from escaping and offers them extra protection.

You should also ensure that your cages are kept away from heaters and other appliances, or the temperature inside the enclosure could be disrupted.

If possible, you should also consider purchasing a special cage designed for red ear slider turtles.

These enclosures are specifically designed to help your turtles stay healthy, and they come equipped with various features, such as air filters and UV lights.

If you’re looking for a high-quality enclosure, then you’ll want to look for ones that are made out of stainless steel. Stainless steel is highly resistant to corrosion, making it ideal for keeping your turtles safe.

Ensure That They Have Access To A Good Environment

A good environment is essential for maintaining the health of your turtles. You should provide your turtles with access to sunlight, fresh air, and a variety of different plants and objects.

You should also make sure that your turtles have access to clean, fresh water, and that their enclosure has adequate ventilation.

If your turtles aren’t exposed to sufficient amounts of sunlight, then they won’t receive the amount of vitamin D they require.

As a result, you shouldn’t leave your turtles in dark tanks, as this could cause serious health issues.

Make Sure That They Are Healthy And Happy

The health of your turtles is just as important as their physical appearance. This means that you should pay close attention to how they appear, as well as whether they seem happy and content.

In addition to ensuring that your turtles are healthy, you should also ensure that they are free to move about as much as possible. This will give them the opportunity to exercise and stretch their legs, and it will prevent them from getting bored.

You should also ensure that your turtles have plenty of space to roam about so that they can get some sunbathing done – this is a great way to boost their mood and keep them super happy and content!

What Habitats Are Best For a Red-Eared Slider?

Red-eared sliders are native to North America, but they can live happily in captivity.

They prefer warm temperatures and moist environments, and they don’t like extreme changes in temperature or humidity levels.

However, they do enjoy having lots of room to explore, and they thrive when given plenty of opportunities to swim around and bask in the sun.

Here are some of the most popular habitats for red-eared sliders:


Terrariums are excellent for housing red-eared sliders because they offer a very controlled environment.

Terrariums are usually constructed out of glass, wood, plastic, or metal, and they often contain rocks or sand to absorb moisture.

These terrariums allow you to control the temperature, humidity, and light levels, which makes them perfect for keeping your turtles safe and happy.


These aquariums are similar to terrariums, except that they are filled with water instead of soil.

This allows you to add fish, shrimp, and other aquatic animals into your tank, which gives your turtles an additional source of food.

Outdoor Enclosures

Outdoor enclosures are another option for housing red-eared slider turtles.
These enclosures are typically constructed out of concrete or stone, and they may be covered by a roof.

Pond Enclosures

Pond enclosures are similar to outdoor enclosures, except that they are located inside a pond rather than outside.

Pond enclosures are ideal if you want to house several turtles at once since they allow you to create a large habitat without needing to build a big structure.

Sand Boxes

Sand boxes are another option for housing turtles, especially if you want to provide them with a naturalistic setting.

Sand boxes are made out of wood, plastic, or cement, and they are usually placed on top of a layer of sand.


Tank habitats are probably the easiest option available for turtle owners who want to set up a home for their pets.

A tank is basically a small pool that contains water, and it provides the perfect place for your turtles to swim around and play.

Building Your Habitat For Your Red-Eared Slider

3 young red ear slider turtle in the rock

Once you have decided on the best type of habitat for your turtle, the next step is to bring it to life – and there are a few considerations to bear in mind here, which we will explore below.

Step 1: Choose a Location

The first step in building a turtle house is choosing a location.

Ideally, this area should be sheltered from strong winds, and it should receive direct sunlight throughout the day.

If possible, choose a spot where there will be ample room for your turtles to move freely around.

Step 2: Decide How Big It Should Be

Once you know what kind of location you want to use, you need to decide how big your enclosure should be.

Red-eared sliders like to have plenty of room to move about, so if you are in doubt, always opt to make your enclosure on the large side, rather than going for a smaller scale.

It is also important to remember that you’ll need to leave enough space for your turtles to get out of harm’s way when they’re exploring their new surroundings.

Step 3: Make Sure There Are No Dangerous Objects Around

It’s always a good idea to check your chosen location before bringing your turtles home.
Check for any electrical wires, sharp objects, or anything else that could injure your pet.

Step 4: Add Some Plants And Other Animals To Give Your Turtles A Natural Setting

Plants and other animals can help give your turtles a more realistic environment; you can either buy these items from a pet store or, if you are naturally green-fingered, you may decide to grow some yourself.

Plants such as ferns, bamboo, and ivy can all look great in a turtle’s habitat and can help them to feel more relaxed and at home – ideal for helping them to stay in perfect health.

Animals such as frogs, lizards, snakes, and even birds can add an extra dimension to your habitat. This can generate food sources for your turtle, and also help their environment and surroundings to feel more natural.

Heating Requirements For Red-Eared Sliders

Red-eared sliders are mostly easy pets to keep, but it is important to ensure that they are kept at the correct temperatures.

They require a temperature range between 60 °F and 80 °F (15 °C and 27 °C), and they don’t thrive well if they are exposed to extreme heat or cold.

You can easily monitor the temperature of your turtle’s habitat using a digital thermometer.

You can also purchase heating mats that fit inside your tank, which will help maintain the right temperature without having to worry about getting too hot or too cold.

Lighting And UVB Requirements

Your red-eared slider needs to be able to see properly, and it should also be able to see ultraviolet light.

This helps to prevent eye problems and ensures that your turtle has access to vitamin D.

UVB lighting can be purchased cheaply from most pet stores, but you may prefer to build your own UVB lamp. You can find instructions online, and it shouldn’t take long to put together.

Water Quality Requirements

The water quality requirements for red-eared sliders are very similar to those of many other reptiles.

The main thing to watch out for is ensuring that the water isn’t too hard or too soft.

If you notice that your turtle is struggling to swim, this could indicate that its shell is not strong enough to cope with the water pressure.

If you suspect that your turtle is suffering from dehydration, then it would be advisable to change the water every day.

What Is The Average Lifespan For A Red-Eared Slider?

A red-eared slider is one of the easiest reptile species to care for, and there are no major concerns regarding their health and longevity.

In fact, red-eared sliders tend to live longer lives than most other types of turtles.
According to the American Association of Reptiles, the average lifespan of a red-eared slider is around 30 years.

This means that they can expect to live up to 10 times longer than a common house tortoise!

Common Health Concerns For Red-Eared Sliders

What Are Some Common Health Problems That Can Affect My Red-Eared Sliding Turtle?

Red-eared sliders are generally considered to be quite healthy reptiles and have few health issues.

However, it’s still possible that your turtle may experience some minor illnesses, which can sometimes affect the way they behave.

For example, they may become lethargic, or lose interest in eating. These symptoms usually indicate that your turtle has contracted a disease, and requires veterinary attention.

The following list contains some of the more common health concerns that can affect your turtle:

Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections can occur when your turtle comes into contact with contaminated water or soil. They can cause serious damage to your turtle’s skin, and even result in death.

It’s therefore vital to always wash your hands thoroughly before handling your turtle and to prevent them from coming into contact with dirty areas.


Chlamydiosis is caused by a type of bacteria called Chlamydia psittaci and is spread through direct contact with infected droppings.

It can cause respiratory tract infections, and can even infect your turtle’s eyes. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, and discharge around the mouth and eyes.

Fungal Infections

Your turtle can contract fungal infections from consuming moldy food, or from being exposed to damp conditions. This can cause your turtle to cough, and develop sores or lesions on their body.


Salmonella is another bacterial infection that can affect your turtle. It can enter your turtle through its shell, and often causes diarrhea and vomiting.


Tetanus is an extremely dangerous condition, and can easily kill your turtle.

If you suspect that your turtle has been bitten by a poisonous snake, or developed tetanus some other way, then you must seek medical help immediately.

Viral Infections

Viral infections are much less common than bacterial ones, but can still prove fatal for your turtle. One such virus is Parvovirus, which can cause severe diarrhea, dehydration, and weight loss.

Another is Salmonellosis, which can cause similar symptoms to those experienced by salmonella.


Trauma is one of the most common reasons why turtles get sick and can lead to many different problems. A broken limb, for instance, will require surgery to fix, while internal injuries can be life-threatening.

Worm Infestation

Worm infestations are relatively rare, however, they’re not unheard of. Most commonly, this occurs when your turtle eats earthworms, which are actually beneficial insects.

Unfortunately, these worms can grow up to half a meter long, and cause your turtle to suffer from intestinal blockages.

How To Care For A Red-Eared Slider: A Summary

As mentioned above, red-eared sliders are relatively easy to look after. While they are active throughout the year, they are most active during the spring and summer months.

During these periods, they are most likely to be found basking in the sunshine and feeding on insects and worms.

As such, providing them with plenty of shade and shelter is essential, so that they can remain comfortable and safe. This will help them to stay healthy and happy, and ensure that they continue to grow and develop.

When choosing your home for your new pet, remember that you want somewhere where you can provide them with adequate space and an environment that suits their needs.

If you’re looking to buy a turtle, then make sure that you choose one that’s suitable for your lifestyle and requirements.

You’ll also need to consider how much time you can devote to caring for your turtle and whether you’d prefer to keep them indoors or out.

If you decide to take your turtle outside, make sure that you place them in a well-ventilated area, and avoid placing them near any ponds or waterways.

You’ll also need to consider what food you feed your turtle. Turtles are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and animals, and will happily munch on anything that they find tasty.

As such, you’ll need to make sure that you give them something nutritious and varied, but not too fatty.

Try to avoid giving them foods that contain high levels of salt, sugar, or fat, as this could lead to health problems later on.

It’s important that you monitor your turtle closely, and check its surroundings regularly.

Make sure that you clean up any messes immediately, and remove any items that might be harmful to your turtles, like toys or other objects.

It’s also worth noting that turtles are very sensitive to temperature changes, and can die within minutes if left without proper care. You should therefore never leave them unattended at temperatures below 10 °C (50 °F), or above 30 °C (86 °F).

Final Thoughts

Red-Eared slider turtles are popular pets because they’re incredibly cute, and are generally friendly.

However, they do require a lot of attention, so it’s important that you know exactly how to care for them properly.

The good news is that you don’t need to spend a fortune on your new pet, and there are many inexpensive ways to look after them, and plenty of chances to enjoy all the benefits of having a reptile in your life.

The best way to start off is by reading through our guide, which covers everything from buying a turtle, to keeping them inside or out. Once you’ve read through our guide, you’ll have all the information you need to get started!

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.