A red eared turtle, or a red eared slider, is a semi-aquatic turtle that is a common household pet. They are not overly demanding pets, but understanding their requirements will ensure that they do not die of improper handling.

Providing a Habitat

You cannot just place the red eared slider in a plastic container and expect it to live long. Like any other turtle, it needs a proper habitat to strive. Give it a large-enough tank, with water and a land area where it can swim and bask, respectively.

Clean out the tank water every 45 days and use a water filtration system so the turtle will not be swimming in dirty water too long.

Red Eared Slider Secrets


Red eared turtles are omnivorous. This means they eat both animals and plants. Young red eared turtles eat more animal protein; adults eat more leaves and greens. Because of this diet, the younger turtles should be fed every day while the adults can be fed every 2-3 days.

The red eared turtles can be fed a mixture of commercial and natural food. Commercial pellets are convenient and nutritious since they contain vitamins and minerals.

However, commercial pellets are recommended to comprise only a small percent of the turtle’s diet. Natural food and live prey offer variety, more nutrients, and give the turtle a chance to exercise by hunting for its prey.

Live items you can feed to a red eared turtle include aquatic snails, daphnia, earthworms, guppies, goldfish, krill, minnows, shrimp, silkworms, and tadpoles. Large prey can be cut into smaller pieces for small turtles.

Leafy greens for turtles include bok choy, collard, kale, and mustard and dandelion greens. Aquatic plants like anacharis, azolla, duckweed, water hyacinth, and water lettuce are snacked on by turtles.

Make sure the animals and plants you feed to the turtle are pesticide-free.

Reptile multivitamins that contain calcium and Vitamin D3 should be mixed with the turtle food often. You can also mix crushed cuttlebone into the water and provide calcium blocks for the turtle to nibble on.

Determining the Gender

There are distinct differences between male and female red eared turtles, but you can tell them only when they reach sexual maturity.

The males are sexually mature when they reach 4 inches in length, when they are 2-5 years old. The females take a bit longer—6-7 inches in length, or when they are 5-7 years old.

The male turtle also has longer claws on their front feet as compared to the female’s. The male’s tail is also longer and thicker. The cloaca is father from the body in males, and they have a slightly concave plastron.

A full-grown red eared turtle can reach 12 inches in length, and could carry Salmonella. If you or a child play or touch a turtle that large, make sure to always wash your hands afterwards to prevent risks of infections. Keeping a pet turtle is a responsibility that you should be prepared for and aware of.

Turtle Tanks Tip #1

Remember that turtles are not all alike. Each different species and sub species require different housing, feeding and water needs. Only after you have properly identified your turtle can you create the perfect environment for raising it. Therefore, your first concern should be to clearly identify what species your pet turtle is.

Turtle Tanks Tip #2

Aquatic turtles should be kept in aquariums that have fairly deep water, a basking area, and heat and light sources. Turtles that are mostly terrestrial still need to have some water but should not be kept in aquariums. They will be happier in wide wooden or plastic enclosures that contain the right substrate and a wading dish.

Turtle Tanks Tip #3

Be sure to wash and sterilize anything you pick up from the yard before placing it in the turtle tank. Don’t add any decorations in the tank that are sharp, pointed, or small enough that your turtle could potentially swallow them.