Animals / Reptiles

The Red-Ear Slider

Синонимы и названия на других языках

South American red-lined turtle, pond slider

Nordamerikanische Buchstaben-Schmuckschildkröte (German)


Order: testudines

Family: emydidae

Subfamily: emydinae

Genus: trachemys

Species: trachemys scripta.

Subspecies: Trachemys scripta elegans (Red-Ear Slider), Trachemys scripta scripta (Yellow-bellied slider), Trachemys scripta troostii (Cumberland Slider)


The red-ear slider is native to North America, mostly along the Missisipi and in the northern states of the US. But because of its popularity as a pet, it has spread throughout the world. There even have been reports about red-ear slider spending winter in a pond in Moscow. It prefers water bodies with weak flow, warm water and a thick layer of ooze on the bottom and extensive vegetation on the banks. This turtle doesn’t move away from the shore. 

Внешний вид

The average size of carapace of the red-ear slider is from 25 to 30 cm. Males are smaller than females. The cloaca of a female is nearer to the base of the tail. The male’s claws are longer and more bent than the female’s ones.  Also the male’s carapace is concave, it helps it during copulation. The red-ear slider has very memorable appearance, you cannot confuse it for another species. They have a red stripe stretching from the turtle's eyes to its neck that gave the species its name. The carapace is olive-yellow, round-shaped and smooth. The plastron is smooth and yellow. Young turtles have very bright green carapace that gets darker with age, and the red stripe gets paler. 


The read-ear slider is very territorial, so you shouldn’t keep it together with other turtles or fish.

They bite people very rarely, they easily become tame and can be hand-fed.

This turtle gets used to the person who takes care of it.

The red-ear slider has well-developed senses, especially smelling and eyesight. They can distinguish colours both in the water and on the ground. Their eyesight is good, they can detect movement 40 m away. They have good senses of smell and taste, but their hearing is poor.  

The carapace is sensitive to the touch because a lot of nerves go through it.  

The red-ear slider can make various sounds: it can hiss, spit and squeak.  

Males tend to fight with each other and even with females. It is better to keep this turtle alone.

Содержание и уход

The red-ear slider needs a large tank, starting from 200 litres. It must have both water and ground. The minimal depth of the water has to be the same as the length of the carapace so that the turtle can turn around if it is on the back. You will need a powerful external filter which you will have to clean every second or third month (though these periods could be longer if you feed your turtle in a basin, then the water will get less dirty). Also you will need a powerful heater (it has to be durable too since the turtle can damage it) and a thermometer to control the water temperature. You will need a UV lamp and a filament lamp for basking spot. Both of them have to be directed to the ground so that the turtle could warm itself there.

The tank should have an island with flat and uneven shore so that the turtle could get there easily.

The temperature at the basking spot should be around 32°C.

The air humidity should be around 60 %.

The turtle needs about 12 hours of light daily (a UV lamp and a usual lamp).

The ideal water temperature is about 25°C.


The red-ear slider is omnivorous, it eats everything. It is best to alternate the food so you’re your turtle gets a well-balanced diet. They eat both animal food (small rodents, live and frozen fish, large insects, mealworms, crickets) and plant feed (finely cut lettuce, dandelions, grated squash and pumpkin, pears and apples and berries: strawberries and raspberries). You have to add to the food vitamins and calcium supplements.

You can also feed your red-ear slider with commercial food: they already contain all the necessary minerals and vitamins.

Young turtles should be fed daily, and adult ones can be fed every second day in order to avoid overeating.

The amount of food can also vary depending on the turtle’s age. The hatchlings’ food should contain 50% of protein. Since most commercial feed for turtles contain only about 40% of protein, you can add to the turtle’s menu insects, mealworms and foraging fish like guppies.

For adult turtles the commercial food should equal to 10-25% of her total diet and the rest should consist of vegetables and fruit. 


The red-ear slider is easy to keep and fun to watch.

It doesn’t require a large tank.

This turtle can eat commercial feed.

Often unprofessional sales assistants in pet shops tell customers that red-ear sliders can get along with fish. It is not true, these turtles eat fish.

When they are scared, they can relieve the bowels.

In the wild the red-ear slider hibernates but in captivity it is not necessary. 


Eye infections: the turtle’s eyes get red and swollen. This disease occurs due to poor husbandry, e.g. if the water is not changed as often as it should It is treated with antibiotic eye drops and proper care.

Bacterial respiratory infections: if the turtle doesn’t get proper care, it can get a cold. Then its eyes tear, the turtle loses appetite and gets lethargic. The treatment and prevention are proper care and adequate temperature in the tank.

The rachitis occurs due to the lack of calcium and UV light. The turtle’s carapace gets distorted. The prevention is proper care.


Males are sexually mature when they get about 10 cm long, and females – when they get 12.5 cm long. It is possible to tell the sex of a red-ear slider once the male is 2-4 years old, and the female is 3-5 years old.

In captivity the red-ear slider can mate all year round. The male starts courting the female: it waves its limbs in front of her. Before the female lays eggs, it becomes anxious and looks for a place for a nest. If the female tries to lay eggs but fails, you should take it to the vetyou’re your turtle becomes less active, it pants, its cloaca gets swollen and liquid comes out of it, you should contact the vet immediately. Probably the eggs broke inside the turtle and it needs urgent treatment.

Ideally the red-ear slider should lay eggs on a sandy beach where it can easily dig holes. Females can keep the sperm in their genital tracts for a couple of months.
Moreover, females can lay eggs without a male, but they will not be fertilized. Sometimes you can feel the eggs in the turtle’s body between the carapace and the rear legs, but you should be careful because the eggs are very fragile.

Average life span under good care can be over 30 years. 

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