ORIGIN: This species is introduced but is considered naturalized. It was sold widely in pet stores and most populations originated from pet turtles that were released. It is a native of the Midwest *10760,11407*.
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During brumation, T. s. elegans can survive anaerobically for weeks, producing ATP from glycolysis. The turtle's metabolic rate drops dramatically, with heart rate and cardiac output dropping by 80% to minimise energy requirements. The lactic acid produced is buffered by minerals in the shell, preventing acidosis. Red-eared sliders kept captive indoors should not brumate.
Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for reptiles and should consider not having a reptile as a pet.
Mauremys turtles of the Mediterranean - Care and Breeding
References for Life History 10760 - Mitchell, J. C., 1994, The Reptiles of Virginia, 352 pgs., Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC 11407 - Conant, Roger and, Collins, John T., 1998, Peterson Field Guide: Reptiles and Amphibians, Eastern/Central North America, 616 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Company;, Boston 11624 - Mitchell, J. C., 2001, Personal Communication, Expert review for GAP Analysis Project, Mitchell Ecological Research LLC
Water quality must be maintained no matter where you house your turtle and both supplemental heat and UVB lighting should be provided. Setting all of this up is the hardest part but once your tank or pond is established the maintenance isn't all that bad. More »
Aquatic turtles occasionally replace their individual scutes as they grow.
This Care Sheet can cover the care needs of other species.
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BEHAVIOR: Sliders in general are frequent baskers who pile on top of each other if "hauling out" sites are few. They are very wary and will slide into the water at the slightest provacation. As adults they eat aquatic vegetation and some aquatic invertebrates, tadpoles and small fish. Juveniles are entirely carnivorous *10760,11407*. Hibernates during winter months *10760*.
On occasion, a male may appear to be courting another male, and when kept in captivity may also show this behaviour towards other household pets. Between male turtles, it could be a sign of dominance and may preclude a fight. Young turtles may carry out the courtship dance before they reach sexual maturity at five years of age, but they are unable to mate.
Although every turtle is different, when handled, red-eared sliders could withdraw into their shells or possibly even nip at your fingers if they feel threatened. This is why it’s not recommended that you frequently handle your red-eared sliders or remove them from their habitats.
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Improper environmental conditions and diet are among the most common culprits when it comes to health problems in red eared sliders. Diseases such as metabolic bone disease and vitamin A deficiency are seen in many kinds of reptiles and red eared sliders are not exceptions.
Caring for red eared sliders requires more than just a shallow bowl with a little bit of water and a rock. Aquatic turtles, including red eared sliders, need much more in the way of housing and lighting. Take a look at what you need before acquiring a turtle and your new pet slider will be sure to thank you.
Originating in North America, the red-eared slider is named for the distinctive red streak on each side of its face. The Red-Eared Slider is primarily aquatic and will emerge from the water for basking.
The species Trachemys scripta contains three subspecies: T. s. elegans (red-eared slider), T. s. scripta (yellow-bellied slider), and T. s. troostii (Cumberland slider).
Though red eared slider's tastes tend to change as they mature, (shifting to a more herbivorous diet as they get older) turtles of all ages should be offered a wide variety of both animal and plant based items. Commercial turtle pellets can make up a good base for the diet but they should be supplemented with a variety of other items.
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There are a few basic things you can do to ensure easy clean up and a healthy turtle. Feeding your turtle outside of their home is a bit more work at feeding time but it will make it easier to keep the tank clean and the overall water quality good in the long run (which is best for your turtle to avoid ear infections, shell problems, etc.). Also, avoid overfeeding your turtle to prevent obesity and excessive waste matter. More »
Full grown adults can reach 12 inches in length, with females usually being the largest in size. There are rare instances of adult red-eared sliders growing larger than 12 inches.
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Red-eared sliders are almost entirely aquatic, but as they are cold-blooded, they leave the water to sunbathe to regulate their temperature.
Vin Ma has been working with various species of turtles since 2002, and since 2006 has been working on selective color breeding, focusing on color morphs such as albino and caramel red-eared sliders. Visit his website at www.turtlemorphs.com.
Hatchling red-eared sliders are very cute, but don’t let their small size fool you. Remember, adults can grow to 12 inches. The general rule of thumb for housing red-eared sliders is for every inch of shell length, you should provide 10 gallons of water. For example, a red-eared slider with a 5-inch shell length should be provided an enclosure containing 50 gallons of water to allow for adequate swimming space. They can be kept in aquariums, turtle tubs, etc.
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REPRODUCTION: Mating will occur in any season but summer. Nesting probably occurs April-July *10760*.
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If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.
Because all reptiles are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your reptile or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.
Red-eared sliders can live a long life in captivity. When cared for correctly, they can easily live longer than 20 years.
The red-eared slider is one of the most common turtles found for sale in pet stores across the U.S. and overseas. In addition to finding them at local pet stores, you can purchase them at reptile shows or online. It is illegal for hatchlings with a carapace length of less than 4 inches to be sold for anything other than educational purposes.
The carapace of this species can reach more than 40 cm (16 in) in length, but the average length ranges from 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in). The females of the species are usually larger than the males. They typically live between 20 and 30 years, although some individuals have lived for more than 40 years. Their life expectancy is shorter when they are kept in captivity. The quality of their living environment has a strong influence on their lifespans and well being.
The native habitat of the red-eared slider is from New Mexico north to Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and West Virginia, then south through Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, all the way to northern Mexico. They are often found in slow-moving streams, creeks, lakes, ponds and marshes with a fresh and warm water supply.
POPULATION PARAMETERS: Intergrades with Trachemys scripta scripta wherever the two coexist. There are several intergrade populations in the southeastern part of the state that show characteristics of both T.s. elegans and T.s. scripta *10760*.
Will reach adult size in 12 to 18 months under ideal conditions; upgrade habitat size as your turtle grows
Within the second volume of the Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the popular comic book heroes were revealed as specimens of the red-eared slider. The popularity of the Turtles led to a craze for keeping them as pets in Great Britain, and subsequent ecological havoc as turtles were accidentally or deliberately released into the wild.