FAQs About Red Ear Slider Turtle
Related Articles: The Care and Keeping of the
Red Eared Slider,
elegans by Darrel
Ear Sliders, Turtles, Amphibians, Red Eared Slider Care, Shell Rot in Turtles,
Related FAQs: Sliders 1, Sliders
2, Red Eared Slider
Identification, RES Behavior,
RES Compatibility, RES Systems, RES
Feeding, RES Disease, RES Reproduction, Turtles in General:
Turtles, Turtle Identification, Turtle Behavior, Turtle Compatibility, Turtle Selection, Turtle Systems, Turtle Feeding, Turtle Disease, Turtle Disease 2, Shell Rot, Turtle Reproduction, Amphibians, Other Reptiles,
Help - Aggressive Red Ear Turtles
Hi! My name is Sabina and I have two red ear sliders turtles in Brazil. They have
between 15-20 years old each. One is a male (Belo) and the other is a female
(Wawa). In the beginning (20 years ago) we started to raise turtles and there
was a time we had 15 turtles. However, we had to move to a smaller apartment and
my parents decided to give the turtles to a friend.
We only kept Belo and Wawa with us. They were raised in plastic bowls. Part of
the day they stay separately inside water where they feed (turtle pellets) and
part of the day they are left free together outside water.
They stay in a balcony where they walk free, take sun and sleep in a baby
blanket (they go there on their own). I know this is very unconventional, but
they have been growing well and are healthy. The reason I am writing is because
this year Belo started to behave in a very aggressive way. He started to bite
Wawa on her neck, on her toes and arm. Sometimes we need to intervene and
separate them. Sometimes he bites so hard that she bleeds. I do not know why she
doesn't fight back, as she is much bigger than him. Once I saw Belo looking at
her, he opened and closed his mouth and Wawa started to run like crazy. I know
this looks like is a courting behaviour.
They have been presenting courting behaviour since many years, but it was
restricted to a "dance" with Belo putting his nails on Wawas eyes. I guess they
never mate (at least I never saw eggs - unless she had ate them...).
What we do not understand is why this year this aggressive behaviour started. We
separated them when they are outside water, but after a few days when they meet
he is aggressive again. The funny thing is that sometimes she forgets what he
did, and we find them sleeping together in the blanket. My parents are seriously
thinking to give one of them to a friend. I think it is sad because they have
been with us for many years. I am also afraid that they will miss one another.
Could you give me an advice on what we should do? Attached I am sending some
photos. Thank you advance for your help.
<Turtles aren't social animals. They are perfectly happy on their own. The males
can be territorial, and they're also aggressive when it comes to "forcing"
females to mate with them. In the wild females simply swim off if they don't
want to mate. But in aquaria that isn't an option because they're cooped up
together. So the short answer is that if two turtles aren't getting along, you
can and should separate them. Incidentally, the way Belo is putting his hands
and nails in Wawa's eyes is 100% normal mating behaviour. It's what they do. So
in this case, I'd definitely separate them if this is getting so bad Wawa is
being hurt. I've cc'ed our turtle expert, Darrel, in case I've missed something.
Re: Help - Aggressive Red Ear Turtles
Hi Bob, Darrel,
I tackled the two I’m confident about, and left one message in Darrel’s inbox.
As I’ve stated before, I’m not a turtle expert by any means, and appreciate
Darrel’s greater knowledge and insight when it comes to the more “medical”
questions that require treatment.
<I as well>
The ones I handled were about behaviour and cleaning, so far as I could
<Thank you Neale. B>
Re: Help - Aggressive Red Ear Turtles 10/27/15
Thank you for your quick reply Narrel. I will separate them. I would be happy to
also hear Darrel comments.
<As would I.>
<Glad to help. Neale.>
Red eared slider, stkg. comp.
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I am a first grade teacher and have several classroom pets.
<Thank you. Thanks to people like you, I can read and write and due knot
Re: lie two much on spell Czech!>
One being a red eared slider. He is about 4 inches in diameter. We found
one outside today that is as big as a 50 cent piece. Can I put him in
the same tank?
<It's a tiny bit dicey because the sizes you mention are borderline.
Sliders are colonial and social so it's generally not a problem. My only
reservation is that an insignificant "get away from me you're bothering
type of nip from a fully grown turtle can be fatal to a newborn.>
<If the larger turtle is generally friendly and has been well fed it's
likely that he'll ignore the little one>
I do not know how quickly you respond to your emails, but we really want
him to get settled as quickly as possible into a home.
<Best of luck>
lonely turtle? 3/5/13
We had two red eared sliders for the past 5 years, and
I believe they were about a year when we got them. Our male turtle
recently (and very unexpectedly) passed away. He had been showing
no sign of illness or discomfort. I was wondering what may be a
reason for this?
<Yes, there probably was a reason (Red Ear Sliders should live some 20,
30 years in captivity, and often live much longer than that, even 50
So a five-year-old specimen is very young, far too young to die.>
More importantly I am wondering if "Dora" (our remaining turtle) need
any extra care?
<Do review existing care, in particular diet and UV-B, the two aspects
turtle-keepers often neglect, even if they get the other aspects right.
Diet needs to be increasingly biased towards plant rather than animal
foods as Red Ear Sliders age (Koi pellets work great) and UV-B is most
easily provided using a UV-B lamp.>
or if she will be "lonely" because her life partner is gone?
should we get another turtle?
<Depends on the system you have, e.g., size of the vivarium. Turtles
don't need company, and if you have limited funds and don't have things
like a UV-B lamp installed, better spend your money on upgrading the
system rather than buying another turtle.>
and what might we be able to do to make sure Dora lives to her full
<Read, plan, spend money carefully on what you need; start here:
Hope this helps, Neale.>
Why Turtles are better than
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I bought our red-eared slider turtle at a local pet store (now out of
business) for my son about 7 years ago. I was completely ignorant of
the maintenance involved.
<That is so often the case>
My son is too busy to properly take care of the turtle and it is time
to give the turtle to someone who can.
<I feel your pain. I got into the Marine Tropical Fish hobby when my
son discovered girls and suddenly got too busy for his Marine
I want to responsibly find a home for the turtle but I am not sure
where to start.
<THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT!!!!!!! Seriously, so many people are
willing to just 'dump' a pet they no longer want '¦
it's refreshing to know that you want to do the right thing. -- And
I'm here to help>
<First though, I want to remind you that Red Eared Sliders are easy
to keep. They need a few things - and yes, they have to have those
things, but they don't need a LOT of care>
<They don't need as much care as your son needs, for example.
All things considered, turtles may make better kids than our kids
<The turtle will never mistake you for an ATM machine or a laundry
service - that's a plus>
<A turtle will never speak to you except maybe an occasional hiss or
grunt -- so that's about equal to a kid>
<A turtle will never ask to borrow your car for a date and in the
morning you come out to find both front fenders dented - so that's
<Sigh '¦ I could go on, but I think you get my point:
consider keeping the turtle and responsibly find a home for the
<No? OK - I tried>
<Check around your area, the internet, Craigslist, etc. and look for
Turtle and Tortoise clubs. Chances are you'll find one closer than
you think and in your local chapter you'll find dedicate keeper
that have the same motto as an orphanage: There's always room for
<I'd be very surprised if you don't find someone who will
come to you and pick it up>
We live in Ohio.
Red eared slider... disposal of
<Hiya! Darrel here>
We got a red eared slider for our 10 year old son for Christmas
<Wow! Where can I get a trade like that?>
'¦ - Extremely bad idea.
<It can be. Pets are things that kids want passionately at first and
then as the interest wears off, the parents end up with the
As you know the aquarium needs to be cleaned at least once a week. We
(or at least I) want to get rid of the turtle because we believe a 10
year old is too young to clean the tank.
I've read that the Red Eared Sliders are very destructive to the
natural environment and that the turtle shouldn't just be let
loose, not that I would anyway, I wouldn't under any circumstances
want to let a domesticated animal loose in the wild world.
<Thank you for that. Rule #1 is that we never, ever, EVER release
captive animals into the wild '¦ even if that animal came from
that same wilderness.>
How do we find a place to send the turtle?
<My first suggestion is that you look for a Turtle and Tortoise
Society in your area. Sometimes listed as Turtle Rescue organizations.
I'd bet you'd find one within driving distance or at least
where a member would drive to meet you. They are always good to help
find a place for one more animal>
Turtles, RES... care... shell...
My son bought a red ear slider turtle at a store about 3 weeks ago.
<Helen, my heart sinks when I read this. The problem with kids is
they have no idea at all about what animals need to do well. Actually,
some do, and I hope you're son is one of them. But my point is that
often they don't, and
even if they know what they need, they don't have the funds or the
time to provide those things. Think very carefully about whether you
want to keep this pet turtle. Start reading here:
The shell is about 3 inches.
<Going to get a lot bigger than this, around the size of a dinner
It was in a tank with bigger ones. It is in a tank by itself and eats
good and gets all the right light it needs.
<Let's be sure you understand what it needs to eat and what sort
of light it needs. Folks often delude themselves on these. Turtles
can't really survive on just turtle pellets from the pet store. The
pellets are too high in protein and lack the required fibre. Let's
be clear that skipping dietary requirements will simply mean you get a
sick turtle and expensive vet bills. Fortunately, providing the green
foods they need is easy: a bunch of cheap Pondweed or equivalent will
last a week or two, and provide plenty of fibre and vitamins. As for
lighting, what turtles need isn't
visible light at all, but infrared for warming up and especially UV-B
for vitamin synthesis. You can get some excellent combination heat/UV-B
lamps that do the trick. Don't have UV-B? Well, unless the turtle
most of the year, it IS going to get sick. Again, skipping on a UV-B
lamp is just going to lead to a sick turtle and more vet bills. I
cannot stress this point too strongly: when turtles get sick,
there's little to nothing you can do with home remedies, and the
only humane treatment is to take your pet turtle to the vet. Some folks
have money to spend, some folks don't. If you want to save your
pennies, don't economise on the food, heating and UV-B that turtles
need. Can't afford those things? Then don't keep turtles.
Simple as that. These ARE NOT cheap pets.>
My question is what is making the tips of it's shell turn
<As turtles grow, the outer plates of the shell will slough off the
shell, and as they peel away, they may appear transparent, rather like
patches of dead skin on humans after sunburn. For one or two such
plates -- called scutes -- to be wearing off at any one time is normal
and nothing to worry about. But if the turtle can't bask under a
warm lamp, and isn't receiving adequate UV-B light, and the water
isn't kept clean with a big filter and regular water changes, the
shell can "go bad" in lots of ways. Deformities are common,
as is something called Shell Rot where fungus develops between the
scutes. Because turtles grow slowly, it often takes months for problems
to show up, so you really do need to prevent problems rather than try
to cure them. I hope I'm not sounding too negative here, but
I'd guess something like 95% of the turtles sold as pets come to
grim, premature endings through some sort of neglect. Most of those are
turtles "cared for" by children, and I really cannot stress
too strongly how inappropriate
these animals are as children's pets. If you and your son are
prepared to share the tasks and you're able to keep an eye on
things, that's great, and you'll doubtless get on fine. But
bear in mind these turtles live for 20 years, get to the size of dinner
plates, and eventually require vivaria about the size of a bathtub.
Female turtles are further complicated by their need to lay eggs
otherwise they tend to become egg-bound (and this can happen whether
there's a male with them or not). So please take some time to read
those two articles and the linked healthcare articles. Hope this helps.
Neale's reply to 4/27 turtle FAQ 4/28/10
I happened to be on the site doing some work on the turtle FAQs and
just happened to see your response to Helen today whose son just bought
a red eared slider (FAQ entitled, "turtles,
I just want to say that I felt it was an EXCELLENT response and want to
compliment you on it! You not only answered her question, but gave her
the "complete picture" in terms of needs/requirements
concerning diet, UVB,
heat and water quality, as I've seen Darrel do as well. You really
hit the nail right on the head with each of the key points you raised,
as well as provided the appropriate care links for further reading.
<Ah, this is good to hear. Balancing honesty with courtesy is always
tricky, for me at least, and sometimes I miss the mark and folks feel
that I've treated them like dummies.>
Really, your response should be kept handy and later given as THE
"canned response" to any future FAQs you receive where people
say they are feeding their turtle all the *right* food, giving their
turtle the *right* amount of light and heat that it needs, having the
*right* water quality and temperature, keeping their turtle in the
*right* size aquarium - but without mentioning any of the details about
what they really ARE providing their turtles when they write in!
<This was precisely my aim. Without data to the contrary, I
can't assume they're providing the right conditions for their
pets. When it comes to pets sold in shopping malls and the like, or
purchased by children, my whiskers twitch with the likelihood that the
new pet isn't being given adequate care. That may not be the case
in that instance, but I always try to throw out some pre-emptive
information just in case.>
With all the misinformation out there on the web and unfortunately even
from pet store employees themselves, it really cannot be assumed that
people really DO know the *right* thing to do when it comes for caring
for their turtles.
So excellent job, Neale on your very thoughtful and thorough response,
and in general, for all the valuable education (and time!) that you and
the other crew members provide for the community!
<Thanks for saying so Sue. It's nice to get feedback like this,
and does indeed make me feel all nice and glowy. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Neale's reply to 4/27 turtle FAQ
Much deserved Neale ... and at least from my read anyway, I definitely
don't feel you were discourteous at all!
<Didn't hear back from that querier, so it's entirely
possible she felt I was a bit harsh. I do get the odd piece of hate
Hopefully she will appreciate that she was one of the fortunate few who
was actually told all these things (including the long term care
considerations which are equally important) BEFORE problems occurred!
And if not, at least the turtle will! :) I've got to believe (or at
least hope) that most people who buy a new pet really do have the
animal's best interests at heart,
<Initially at least, I think most do.>
and truly do want to learn (or at least be reassured) about their care
<Again, I think most do. But the costs of pet ownership often become
serious issues, whether we're talking about vet bills, proper diet,
exercise in the case of dogs, and various other things. As a species we
have a remarkable capacity for self-delusion, telling ourselves that
dogs don't mind having their tails docked, or cats don't mind
having their claws surgically removed. If I might be slightly political
for a moment, one could even argue the "Birthers" are a
classic example of people who've deluded themselves into believing
some remarkable nonsense simply because
it reinforces their own preconceptions. You get the same thing here all
the time: The pet store told me I don't need a heater for my Betta
or my Turtle, and they're professionals, you aren't, so I'm
going to believe them and keep my Betta or Turtle in a small, unheated
Your response will hopefully also benefit others who read it as
Though it will never happen, personally, I think all the things you
mentioned should be posted up on turtle tanks in pet stores everywhere
- to educate not only parents, but also other adults BEFORE they decide
to buy them - and in many cases, even the pet store employees
<I agree with you 100% here. Thankfully, pet turtles are now pretty
uncommon in the UK, but as a kid they used to be among the cheapest
pets you could buy. Or rather, the turtles (we call them terrapins
actually) were very cheap; the equipment they needed wasn't. So the
vast majority ended up dead. Weirdly though, some were dumped in
rivers, and in a few places, notably Wimbledon Common in London,
Red-ear Sliders have become
established. I probably don't need to tell you that the only thing
worse than a dead pet animal is a live pet animal in an ecosystem where
it doesn't belong. But that's an argument for another day!
Thanks again for writing, Neale.>
Re: Neale's reply to 4/27 turtle FAQ
Neale: (Just a reply to your email; no need to post this to WWM - has
nothing to do with turtles!)
No, you're right - you don't need to tell me about animals
landing up in an ecosystem where they don't belong ... my (RES)
turtle actually IS one of those animals!! He literally showed up at the
back door of my house last summer! Not sure how he got there, but he
was trapped on all sides by stairs and stone walls that are at minimum,
a foot high. He was only a baby and had no way to climb over them, so
most likely would have died had he not been found. Glad to say he's
doing great now and very spoiled!
I can also definitely relate to what you said below about
"unplanned costs" when it comes to owning a pet. My 17 year
old kitty came down with cancer (fibrosarcoma) last fall, which turned
out to be only the beginning of a 4
month non-ending stream of expenses that wound up costing in the
It started with the local vets not being able to perform that kind of
surgery and referring him to Tufts (Boston). $4,000 later... he
survived the surgery and slowly recovered. However, it was a major
surgery that weakened him and landed up exacerbating some of his other
underlying medical conditions (kidney, heart, etc).
<As is often the case with older cats. Have been there, done that
with both a 17-year-old Siamese and a Burmese of similar age.>
In December, he came down with a respiratory illness. I brought him to
his (local) vet who was out, and had another vet covering.
Unfortunately, this vet wasn't aware of "Chili's"
underlying heart condition, ran his IV too
fast, and sent him into heart failure! Of course, he could do nothing
more for him at that point, and so again referred him back up to Tufts!
After a frantic 1 hour and 15 minute seemingly endless ride up there,
they again saved him...another $2,000...but from that point on, I had
to take him up there once, sometimes twice a week for ultrasound guided
thoracocentesis (which local vets also didn't have the resources
for!) to drain fluid from his chest (which slowly accumulated back up
over time) in order to keep him alive...at a cost of $250 for each (10
Besides all of the bills was the agony I went through for the next 3
months about whether or not to put him down! Unfortunately it was not
so "black and white". He tolerated the thoracocentesis very
well (a 10 minute, quick
procedure), was still active, eating well, seeking affection...etc.)
Tufts said they'd never seen anything like it; even dubbed him
their "miracle" cat. However, in order to keep him this way
and not suffering (which was the only way I could justify not putting
him down) meant maintaining a constant vigil over him, and bringing him
right up to Tufts at the first, even slightest hint of labored
breathing. My nursing skills finally landed up coming in handy ...
however, was VERY stressful!
<For all concerned I'm sure. But it's good you were able to
help out here.>
Unfortunately, though, in the end, the cardio drugs he was on finally
pushed his kidneys over the "tipping point" and he died in
March. The only blessing was that when this happened, it happened fast
- he was actually
active, affectionate, and ate well right up to the night before he
died; only went downhill that next morning of his death.
<Often seems to be the case with cats; they have a certain sort of
will power, but then they turn a corner, and just seem too tired for
I was also relieved that I never had to be put in the position of
"playing God", and also very grateful that I got those extra
3 months of special time with him (he unfortunately had taken a back
seat over the last few years when kids arrived on the scene!)...
however, that privilege unfortunately came with a VERY high price
<Sue, thanks for writing and sharing all of this. It's never
easy to watch a loved pet get sick, and one thing with fish is that
we're often a bit detached from that, since mostly they're
either perfectly healthy or else close to death, with not much time
between the two extremes. With cats, dogs and other "furry"
friends that's often so very different, and potentially painful for
both pet and pet owner. But your experience here is a reminder that
when we buy a pet, we're sometimes getting bad times as well as
good, and expense as well as pleasure. Anyway, all best wishes to you
and whatever beasties inhabit your home at the moment! Cheers,
Turtle Question, RES sel. 10/26/07 My
boyfriends mom bought a Red Eared Slider about a week ago that is about
1 in long. I have read everywhere that they aren't supposed to be
sold until they are 4 in and I am scared we aren't going to take
care of it properly for its age. I have read a lot of information about
them but would still like to know if there are any special needs they
have at that age? <Not really, Nicole -- they're not at all
complicated to keep -- you just have to pay attention to the few things
they need and DO them. Check out the link here and do everything it
tells you to do:> <
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm > I also
read that spots on the belly mean they are sick and (s)he has spot,
what I didn't read was what the spots will look like. <I think
we need a little more information, Nicole. White-ish spots that
don't go away (or come back after you wipe with water and the water
dries) can be fungus which isn't good for them -- but then it's
an easy fix. Swab the area with household vinegar and allow the area to
dry (keep the turtle out of the water for an hour or so) once a day for
7 days. It is important to pay attention to hygiene here. Make sure his
water is clean and cool and that he has a nice place to climb out and
warm up & dry out under proper lighting.> And last (s)he was
bought a week ago and has yet to eat anything. We are going out to buy
it food tonight (probably some guppies and worms and fruit) how should
we go about feeding it? <Read the link (above) the best food for
Sliders is either koi pellets, which come in small and large sizes (get
small if you can) or commercially prepared water turtle food such as
Repto-Min.> Give it to it live or should we cut them into smaller
pieces? <Turtles don't need and don't really even benefit
from live food, especially not fish. Turtles almost never try to catch
or eat fish in the wild, although sometimes it's fun to see them
try. When he gets bigger, a very occasional earthworm or nightcrawler,
available at most pet stores, will be a nice treat. Buy 12, give one to
your turtle and let the others loose in your garden.> Your help
would be greatly appreciated! <Then you shall have it -- hope you
enjoy it!> Nicole <Darrel>
NEW TURTLE Hi you guys. I have enjoyed reading your replies
to what seem to be some of the lamest people on Earth, I am sure
(helllloooo....you think your turtle has a broken leg? You don't
even think of taking her to the vet??). Here is our situation: I
work in the Biology Dept of a community college. 2, 6-inch Sliders
(both males) were donated along with their 150 gal tank about a year
ago. They are thriving-eating, growing, very social. Someone found a
small (4-inch) Slider in their yard and asked if we could take it. I
have him here, separated from the others. He is eating reptile sticks,
soaking in a small tub of water and enjoying the warming light. I read
in the forums to keep him separate for at least a month, which is
fine. I wonder, not knowing anything about this guy, if I need to
worry about any parasites or other diseases. The new guy seems healthy,
bright, clear eyes, very active, decent appetite. Should I do anything
besides the quarantine? I also noticed that someone mentioned to keep
the introduc-ee in a bare-bottomed tank. I assume this means no water?
He has a tub within the tank so he can get in if he wants. The rest of
the tank is medium sized gravel. Thanks ahead of time for your
help. Your forum is terrific. Dandelian Tucker Teaching Assistant
II, Biology/Environmental Science < New turtles should be
quarantined for a month in a clean aquarium. Add a sulfa block to the
water for the month. The sulfa will dissolve into the water and inhibit
any bacterial or fungal growth due to trauma.-Chuck>