The red eared slider turtle originates in North America and gets it’s name from the very distinctive red streaks on each side of its head. This turtle is a primarily aquatic amphibian that will take time to emerge from the water for basking.
Since turtles can be know to carry diseases it is extremely important to always make sure to thoroughly was your hands before and after you handle your turtle. It is also important to talk to your physician if you are expecting a baby, younger than 6 years old or if you have a weakened immune system to see if getting this type of animal would be right for you. You may want to consider getting a different pet if you fall into one of these categories or keep your turtle in an area of the house where it will have little contact with anyone that falls into these categories.
A red eared slider turtle can grow to be between 6 to 12 inches long and will live to see a life span of 20-40 years with the right care taking. They are know to be excellent turtles to those that have never had them before. They are without a doubt one of the most popular of species of turtle sold for pets and often the most often pet turtle dumped into the wild do to people not taking care of them.
Diet and Feeding
You want to make sure that you are feeding your red eared slider turtle a well balanced diet. You need to be feeding them aquatic plants that are non toxic, and sliced vegetables like carrots. If you are looking to get your slider a treat consider getting them earthworms as well as insects to eat. Red eared slider turtles also require a pelleted diet to stay at optimal health.
You need to make sure that you are making fresh and clean water that is chlorine free available for you slider everyday. If you have a younger turtle they need to be fed every day while adults can be fed every other day.
You may want to consider getting a different feeding tank for your red eared slider turtle as they tend to be messy eaters. Additionally You want to make sure that you sprinkle a calcium supplement in with their food daily as well as a weekly multivitamin. If you cannot provide enough UV light for your red eared slider turtle you need to make sure that add a vitamin D supplement to your turtles diet. A deficiency in vitamin D can cause your turtles shell to soften.
You need to provide a habitat that is appropriate for your turtle. A 30-40 gallon breeder tank is suggested with a good screened lid so that your turtle cannot escape. A good thing to keep in mind is to put 10 gallons of water in your tank for each inch of turtle with adult turtle requiring more room.
You need to make sure that you are changing the water that you have in your tank frequently as the turtle will be drinking the water that they swim in. As for substrate you want to keep with something like slate that is too large to fit into their mouths, you will also need water from swimming, and an area that is shallow so your turtle can rest while keeping their head out of the water. You will want to create an area for your red eared slider turtle to bask out of the water. Make sure it has an easy entry and exit.
You will want to use gradient heat for your habitat, keeping it at 95 degrees on the arm end and around 75degrees on the cooler end where the turtle will be swimming. It is highly recommended that you use a ceramic heater for your primary source of heat in the habitat.
Incandescent lighting is required for a basking area and you need to use spectrum lighting for 10-12 hours a day. You should be housing red eared slider turtles alone and for that matter never house turtles of different species together in the same habitat.
Maintaining the Habitat
It is necessary to clean out your turtle’s habitat at least one time per week. Make sure that you put your turtle in a clean and secure habitat while you are cleaning their habitat so that they cannot escape. Use about a 3% bleach solution to clean out the tank and be positive that the bleach smells are gone before returning the turtle to their home. You will want to add water that has no chlorine in it that is at a temperature of around 72-75 degrees before you place your turtle back in it’s habitat.
Red eared slider turtles do not like frequently being handled and will often bite when they are scared. Since they are aquatic turtles they are known to be excellent swimmers. As long as they have a nice and dry area they will take time to bask in the warmth of a heat lamp.
When you are taking care of grooming your turtle you need to keep their habitat as clean as possible and make sure that you remove droppings and uneaten foods as soon as possible. Keeping your turtle as clean as possible is going to go far in helping your turtle to live a long and healthy life.
Signs of a Healthy Turtle
A healthy turtle will be very active and alert. They will eat healthy portions with bright, clear eyes. A healthy turtle will have no lesions on their shell and it will be hard.
Signs of Problems with Your Turtle
You should be concerned with turtles that have discharge coming out of their eyes and noses and discoloration on their skin and shell. You should also be concerned if you notice them swimming frantically or notice them to be lethargic. You should contact a veterinarian immediately if you notice anything wrong with your red eared slider turtle.