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FAQs About Red Ear Slider Turtle Stocking/Selection

Related Articles: The Care and Keeping of the Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans by Darrel Barton, Red Ear Sliders, Turtles, AmphibiansRed Eared Slider CareShell 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, AmphibiansOther Reptiles


Help - Aggressive Red Ear Turtles       10/24/15
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.
Cheers, Sabina
<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. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Help - Aggressive Red Ear Turtles       10/24/15

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 determine.
Cheers, Neale
<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.>
Cheers, Sabina
<Glad to help. Neale.>

Red eared slider, stkg. comp.       4/23/14
Dear Crew,
<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 me"
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 years!).
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 potential years?
<Read, plan, spend money carefully on what you need; start here:
Hope this helps, Neale.>
Thanks- Miranda

Why Turtles are better than kids    8/31/11
Dear Crew,
<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 Aquarium><<Haaaahaaaa. RMF>>
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 do.>
<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 another plus>
<Sigh '¦ I could go on, but I think you get my point: consider keeping the turtle and responsibly find a home for the kid?>
<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 one more!>
<I'd be very surprised if you don't find someone who will come to you and pick it up>
We live in Ohio.
Thank you.

Red eared slider... disposal of 6/5/10
Dear Crew,
<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 pets>
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.
<Probably true>
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...  4/27/10
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 plate.>
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 is outdoors
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 transparent?
<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. Cheers, Neale.>
Neale's reply to 4/27 turtle FAQ  4/28/10

Dear Neale,
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, RES.care.shell.4/27/10).
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.
<Quite so.>
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  4/28/10
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 mail.>
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 requirements.
<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 jam jar.>
Your response will hopefully also benefit others who read it as well.
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 themselves!
<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 4/30/10
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!
<Very good.>
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 thousands.
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 minute) procedure.
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 life.>
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 tag!!
<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, Neale.>

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>

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