This used to be a wiki caresheet. I’ve had to shut it down because of spam and inappropriate comments. In the meantime, I will rebuild the caresheet. If you have a useful suggestion, please add it in the comments. Thank you!

Description
Male red ear slider turtles will grow to a max of 10″ SCL and females to a max of 12″ SCL.
Males have longer claws on their front feet and a much longer, thicker tail than female RES turtles. These differences will manifest themselves only after they have reached at least 4″ SCL. RES Hatchlings are very difficult to sex.

Natural History
Red ear slider turtles originate from North America. Because Red Ear Sliders breed easily and are very attractive as hatchlings, the pet trade has introduced this turtle all over the world. Pet RES can be found in the wild all over the world, and whenever they have been released into the wild, have become a non-native, invasive species.

Because red eared sliders are a non-native, invasive species, they have been banned from Australia.

Water
Red ear slider turtles are an aquatic turtle and thus they need to have as much water to swim and live in. The rule of thumb for aquatic turtles is to have 10 gallons of water for every SCL inch of shell. This means that a 1″ hatchling will do well with 10 gallons of water and a 2″ hatchling will do well with 20 gallons of water. Male seahorses have babies. Since a pet hatchling can grow to be either an 8″ male or a 12″ female, 80 – 120 gallons would be needed for one RES turtle. Each additional pet turtle will require 5 gallons of water for every inch of turtle shell. Two 6″ turtles will then need at least 90 gallons of water (60 gallons for the first turtle plus 30 gallons for the second red ear slider turtle.

Breeding
Because of the pet trade and mass production of red eared slider turtles, it is not recommended to breed Red Ear Sliders.
RES turtles are very difficult to sex as hatchlings. Identification is easily made when they grow to 4″ SCL, which is when external physical difference start to appear. These external appearances are a function of time and not of age.

Male red ear sliders are characterized by long claws on their front legs and a thick, long tail.
Female RES turtles will have front claws as short as their rear claws, and they have a smaller, thinner tail.

Health Concerns
Don’t give a RES iceburg lettuce. It contains no nutritional value for your turtle. Feed romaine and other leafy vegetables.

Comments

  1. i won a turtle at the carnval and i have no clue if its a girl or boy and if its a red eared slider? its small ? is it a baby ?will it grow bigger? i looked it up and im still confused . do they have to be in water so they can swim ? when they gave it to me ,it was it a small bowl with little bit of water ? right now its moving around like if it wants to run or swim? please reply asap .i dont want it to die 🙁

    1. you need to first properly identify your pet turtle. A red ear slider will have a thick solid red or orange stripe behind its eyes. Carefully read and follow the care instructions on this page or on any other care sheet you can find online.

    2. you don’t know if you have a small turtle? Or if you got it in a small bowl with water? LMAO!!! Use your eyes and memory

  2. My roommate and I just bought a RES turtle for our dorm room. He’s in a ten gallon tank with about 4 gallons of water. He isn’t eating much yet, and his basking platform isn’t being used that we can tell. He’s about four inches long; should we get more water in there for him? If so, how can we make a basking platform for him? Would the Turtle Topper work on a 10-gallon tank?

    10 gallons is the largest tank we’re allowed to have.

    1. the turtle topper will definitely work on a 10 gallon tank. For a small tank, I would recommend using a basking area on top of the tank and maximize the amount of water available in the aquarium. To make sure your pet turtle is basking, be sure you have heat and UVB in the basking area.

      1. I got a big problem . what kind of set up is it when you have red eared slider ? I have a male & a female.What should I do?

  3. I have a res thats about a year old. We just moved what i bealive is a HIM into a bigger tank with more water based on what ive read, He is about 4in my im not sure if hes getting enough time out of the water? I have A big rock in their so he can bask but its not sticking up out of the water he is able to put his back legs on the rock and stick his head out of water with the bottom part of his shell rested on the rock Just wondered if someone might would give me a little advice!!!

    1. your pet turtle’s basking area needs to let him get completely dry. There should be heat in the basking area so that the turtle will want to go and use it..and give him UVB light while he is up there

  4. I have 2 RES turtles. I would like to get some bamboo for my tank but I am not sure if it is harmful to the turtles or not. I received the turtles from a friend and she was not sure of their age is there any way to tell? Also my small turtle seems to be trying to impress the larger turtle with the little dance and jazz hands( for lack of a better wording) so I’m wondering if my lg turtle is female? If so what kind of enviromnent will she need to lay eggs if she does, their environment is all aquatic. Do I need to develop a grassy or soil area

    1. there’s no way to tell the correct age of a turtle. The jazz hands, or fluttering, is used to show dominance (as in “get out of my space!!”) but can also be part of their mating ritual. If there are any signs of aggression such as biting then it is the former.

      A proper egg laying area is a completely dry dirt area at least a foot deep – they lay eggs in land. If they get desperate and can’t find a proper area, a female turtle will hold the eggs as long as possible and drop them in the water. Holding the eggs as long as possible is risky and poses health risks.

  5. OUR SWEET GRANDAUGHTER RESCUED A FRIENDS TURTLE & PUT IT IN OUR FISH POND. WOW HAS IT GROWN.
    WE LIVE IN THE NORTH WEST & THE TEMPERATURE HAS DROPED 15DEGREES THIS WEEK.
    WE ARE WINTERIZING & REALIZED WE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THE TURTLES NEEDS TO LIVE OVER THE WINTER. WILL IT EVEN SURVIVE IN THE FISH POND. WHAT DO WE DO TO KEEP HIM SAFE & HEALTHY FOR THE NEXT 6 MTHS.? WE REALIZE THE HIBERNATE BUT WE GET ICE ON THE POND.
    ANY HELP WOULD BE APPRECIATED.

  6. Yes, turtles do hibernate – but not all species do.

    If your pond is deep enough and it doesn’t freeze all the way to the bottom – there is a good chance your turtle will survive the winter. It is important that the turtle gets plenty of food stores in its system to survive over the winter.

    If you’re not feeling confident about it, then you should get a large aquarium and keep the turtle warm indoors

  7. Hi!Again question about hibernation.I have 475 gallons koi pond,where I keep my pricless shibunkins and kois. My RES turtles live in peace with the fish.Anyway as temprature goes low,my turtles goes to the bottom of pond and hibernate.Some fresh water turtle specialists recomended to bring turtles inside the house for overwintering.In this case you must to provide turtles with plastic container roomy enough for your turtles( I have 4 adult turtles),50% percent of water covering their shell and replacing mud bed with foam packing pellets,keep the water temprature of 57 -61*F.I use floating heater for the pond ,to keep the pond from freezing.My fish do OK,but in the past I had very bad case dealing with fungus one of my turtle,no medicine would help and finally she died.So what I should do? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.Thank you!

    1. hmmm, are you trying to hibernate your turtles indoors? Not sure what you’re saying.

      As for fungus, my recommendation is a trip to a qualified vet

  8. My RES is a year old and his eyes is closed and is not eating properly. it has also become very lazy. i am very concerns and need help very badly.

    Please HELP!!!!!!!!!

  9. I have a red-ear slider and I’ve noticed she has this red ‘substance’ all around her shell. My initial thought was that it’s blood but now I have NO idea. I’m sort of freaking out! What is it and what should I do?!

  10. My son’s res has white spots over the top of his shell.The spots seem to be soft. His tank is cleaned monthly and he has a place to dry completly. Res has been in our home for 20 years, Wow didn’t believe it myself. The room he was in this winter did get colder than normal.Any idea what this could be

    1. sounds just like shell rot.

      Although the pet turtle tank is cleaned monthly, there’s something in the tank that got the shell infected. If the spots seem minor, try treating them at home. If not, the slider needs to see a qualified vet

  11. We have an 8 year old RES (Misty – 11 inches)and brought home a 3 year old (5 inches) RES yesterday. Misty has been in our 2000 gallon tank alone for 2 years but was with 3 other turtles for several years prior to that without an issue. Misty is occasionally snipping at our new turtle. Right now we have a glass petition separating them but are taking the glass away several hours a day for them to spend time together. Misty is getting better but does anyone think we should buy a completely new tank or continue trying to better this union.

    1. congrats on 1st taking the steps to separate your pet turtle Misty from the others. Personally, I believe your tank is big enough to continue to try to get them comfortable together. If the aggression intensifies tho, I’d keep them separated permanently

  12. I have two hatchlings red slider turtels that I have had for about 8 months. They are about 2.5 inches in size. They get along quite well and eat very well. My concern is that they are not growing very much. They seem to stay the same. How fast do they grow and should I even be concerned about this? Thank you so much.

    1. so long as you have provided the proper habitat for them (dry basking area, uvb, correct temps, lots of water) you should be ok. They’ve grown already.

      Growth rates differ, but generally, the more you feed, the faster they grow. They live a long, long time – so don’t rush

  13. hello, I have a RES in a koi/goldfish pond.. it seems he is more afraid of the fish than wanting to eat them. So I thought of buying a female RES. I found one that is friendly to fish. Should I just let her in the pond or is there an introduction I should do first? I get her this weekend. I also have another question. We brought him inside this winter. He was housed inside for 3 years from his last owner. We had no money so we bought a 40 gallon tank. knowing as soon as spring came he would go back into the pond. But now with two turtles should I just let them stay in the pond. I have a pond liner at the bottom so they can’t dig into dirt or they will tear my liner.

    1. no need for introduction, just be sure the new turtle is ready and healthy 🙂 and be sure to be observant for the first several days

      40 gallons as temporary winter housing: put a divider if there is aggression, provide needed environment for turtles (dry basking area, uvb, correct temperatures, etc…

      winter them in the pond? Do it at your own risk. Be sure the pond is deep enough and they eat plenty beforehand – but am no expert on hibernation – google around for a good article or three

      1. Thanks for your advice. They got along great, they sun bathed together and everything BUT A heroin I think ate her not even two weeks ago. Ive had 2 koi’s and tons of goldfish go missing not long after me and my husband saw one in our yard. Since then we put up our winter net over the pond so they are protected from other birds.

        1. You’re welcome!

          wow, that’s crazy! Glad you have that net – protection from predators is definitely something needed outdoors. You also need to guard against other predators, particularly the mammals (dogs, cats, coyotes, etc)

  14. I have 2 red-eared turtles for a very longtime>40years! I started out w/4, now 2 for quit esometime! since we bought a new tank, w/afilter, and warmer, and cleaner, environment, one of them has been laying egs! Twice this has happened now within 2 months! I didn’t even know we had a boy! I was told all girls! Now, sinc ethey are aquatic turtles, no rcoks,or sand, what do we doo with the egg when laid, and appears in our tank? I threw one outlas tmonth, it wa ssoft.My husband threw out one tdoay, it wa shard! we don’t want o be mean, but what do we do now? when anothe rone comes? Please, help me! As I said, all these years, thought at least these 2 were girls!

    1. first of all, 40 years… congratulations!!

      You should not have to rely on others to sex your turtles by now. If their front claws are as short as their rear claws, then they are both female.

      A male need not be present for a female to need to pass an egg, it is a natural occurrence for many creatures (and humans too!). If both your red ear sliders are female, throw them out without a worry – they are unfertilized and will never hatch.

  15. Hi 🙂 I would like to buy a RES. But I need help . Could you answer my questions?

    -What to feed them . NO BUGS !!!!!!!!!!!
    -What are the must haves for the tank & stuff
    -Do I have to have a 100 g tank?
    -Are they really hard to care for?
    -WHAT IS THE COST FOR EVERYTHING !

    -I have a cat less then a year old . If I get this turtle, I would need to keep her away from the turtle, so it there something that you can put over the tank ?

    1. congratulation on wanting a pet turtle and on wanting to learn more before taking the plunge!!

      Please read this page and many others like it online

  16. Aloha. My adult RES is suddenly floating, his head sways back and forth and he is barely eating. He’s in a 4′ kids pool aprox 7 inches deep with a large rock and cave he has always loved. Temp’s range from 69-87 all year. We feed him pellets, shrimp and basil. Any ideas what could it be?

  17. We adopted a RES. He (actually i’m not sure what it is) seems to have adjusted well. It has grown quite a bit since we got him. This week he started biting pieces off his platform something he had not done before. We’re feeding him once a day, like we always have. Is he just bored or playing? Or could his appetite have increased?

    thanks!

    1. he’s no longer afraid of it and now it looks like it might be tasty. Red ear slider turtles will eat whatever they can whether they’re hunger or not. They’re opportunistic feeders

  18. i dont know what kind of turtle i have as its the school pet, its looks like the common one yellow and blackstriped neck, legs and tail, yellow belly black/brown top shell, what kind is it a red eared slider,box r cooters, tryin to read about them, thanks for any feed back

  19. I have two red ear sliders got them as babies and I also have some baby catfish in the tank also. The catfish are showing signs ich, can I treat the ich with the ich treatment medicine and leave the turtles in the tank or do need to remove the turtles?

    1. Not sure if the ich treatment would affect your pet turtles. I would play it safe and keep them separated during treatment.

  20. I aquired an abused res and she is in a 20 gallon tank. She doesn’t seem to be getting on her rock… This morning she has like a film around her neck. Can you tell me what to do?

    1. First, make sure your pet turtle habitat is properly setup with all the essentials. That will take care of most problems.

      As for the ‘film’, could you provide more details? It could be regular skin shedding.

  21. hi thanks 4 yur feed back, the turtle is a yellow belly slider, i think the tank is to small as is has very little room to move around, i want to tell the school were i am minding it from, my neighbour has a pond with 8 koi fish, would u think if i suggest a new home for the turtle, would the koi pond be suitable, we get the 4 seasons here , winter the koi pond frezzes over, so the fish live of the bottom of the pond, will the turtle live in these conditions, i would keep it myself if the school allow me to, but would have to invest in a new tank, which are not cheap

    1. The tank is way too small!!

      The koi pond would be a much better place. The turtle can hibernate but would recommend you take him indoors for the winter.

  22. Hi! i have 2 RES that i found swimming in the back yard in my pool as hatchlings (the neighbors have a pond) , they even had their egg tooth still! This was 4 years ago and they have been together ever since in their tank, gradually getting bigger and bigger along with their tanks, though not as big as you have recommended per inch of the shell. I thought they were too young to ever tell the sex yet but now that its been 4 years I’m pretty sure they are both female because although their claws are kind of long ( only slightly longer than their back claws ) they aren’t nearly as long as the huge loooong nails i see when i look up online how to tell the sex. They have always gotten along, bask on one another, sleep next to each other touching, and burmiate for months in the winter and don’t eat… together. they have never fought over food, they just try to get to it first- i have never seen aggressive behavior other that the fluttering but they always seemed happy when the fluttering was happening. I’ve never witnessed bites to the shell or neck .
    a couple times within the last month i noticed at times the water would be reddish- i thought it was the shrimp turtle pellets which i usually don’t feed them, but then the water would filter and the red would go away and then would get foamy like a bubble bath around the fountain. i was so confused. one day, I heard a ruckus in the the tank and saw one turtle going in for a bite at the other turtle’s ” poop” coming out of its butt. IM not entirely sure if it was poop even though it was black because thats when the freaking out occurred as if it hurt and it swam all crazy to get away from poop biter. . and then the water was reddish rust color. i don’t see any injuries and they were just chilling again together later. The water was red again this afternoon and now its cleared up again. i don’t know whats going on. I don’t think its aggressive but should i separate them if this is dangerous behavior? is it possible that I’m not feeding them enough if they want to eat eachother’s poop? i read somewhere that they might mistakenly be biting eachothers penis’ cuz it looks like food and sometimes it comes out when they relax. is this true? do they have to have super long long claws to be male? if i separate them will they be lonely cuz they only know being with each other? I feel like i don’t know my turtle children anymore. 🙁

    kind regards 🙂

    1. You need to find out what it is that is being bitten…try setting a video camera

      If it’s poop, then you have nothing to worry about. If it is a penis, then you need to separate your pet turtles from each other

      1. i think i figured out that is the calcium chalky stuff i put in their tank for them- they like to eat it- and when they eat it- their butt kind of comes out to help pass it…. and when their butt comes out- it looks like food and they bite it! theyve been getting along fine now, and i dont give them that chalky stuff anymore even though its made for turtles. thanks

  23. My Female red eared slider has started biting male on his mouth in our back yard pond since last month is it normal ? cause last year she laid 19 eggs i wanna know are these symptoms part of mating ?

  24. I have a red eared slider that I’ve had for almost two years. I was told that it was a female turtle and now after reading these Q&A’s I am under the impression that she is a he. My turtle is very large and agressive she is to the point that her turtle food is not filling her and she wishes to eat everytime I walk pass her tank as if she’s starving. Shell is the name I gave her since I thought she was a female eat twice a day and a nice amount what should I do.

    1. turtles will want to eat everytime, even if they aren’t hungry. So long as you give the recommended amount your turt will be good

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