RES Slide Show
The link above will show you a slide show of some vital information on RES's.
Yellow-eared and Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys [Chrysemys] scripta; T. s. elegans,)
are found throughout the United States east of the Rockies. They are the sliders is the one most often sold in pet stores
here in the U.S. and abroad. These fresh water turtles spend much of their time in the warm waters of their native habitat.
While they are strong underwater swimmers, these sliders spend much of the warmer hours of the day hauled out on logs or rocks
(or, when very small, on marsh weeds and other aquatic plants) basking in the sun. All of the sliders are omnivores, eating
both animal protein and vegetable/plant matter. Younger turtles need up to 40% of their food from protein sources; adult turtles
feed more heavily on vegetation. In the wild they begin by eating tiny fish and amphibian larva, water snails and a variety
of plants growing in the water and on land.
It is illegal in the U.S. for pet stores
to sell any turtle that is less than four inches (10.6 cm) in length (this is problematic for those few turtle species whose
full adult size is 4" or less!). The ones sold legally must be at least four inches long from the neck end of the carapace
(top shell) to the tail end of the carapace. If male, it will be somewhere between 2-4 years old and already sexually mature.
Wild females reach maturity later, between 5-7 years, and will then be over 5 inches (12.7 cm) in length; in captivity, females
may reach maturity at about 3 1/2 years. You will be able to tell male from females: males are smaller than females in overall
body size but have longer tails.
As with all wild-caught reptiles, the animals
found in pet stores have been under stress for some time. As a result, they are most likely suffering from protozoan and bacterial
infections, including Salmonella which is easily transmitted to young children. Additionally, they are usually emaciated and
dehydrated due to long periods of time without food or water or being held in areas too cold to stimulate the appetite; many
of these turtles will not eat when they are stressed or frightened, and cannot eat when they are too cold. As soon as you
can after you take your turtle home, scoop up a fresh fecal sample and take it and your turtle to a reptile veterinarian.
While the feces is being tested, the vet will check out your turtle for signs of nutritional deficiencies, topical bacterial
or fungal infections, beak overgrowth, respiratory and eye infections - all very common in wild-caught animals (and in captive
turtles who have not been provided with the proper environment or diet). Make sure your turtle is given all the medication
prescribed by the vet. If you have trouble administering it yourself, take your turtle back to the vet to have it done. If
maintained at the proper temperatures, fed a healthy varied diet and kept in a stress-free active environment, your turtle
may outlive you: some individuals have lived more than 100 years.
All sliders need both a warm, dry area and
a large pool of warm water. In the wild, they chose water that warms up quickly in the sun each day. You will need to provide
a warm enclosure with both heated water and a warm place for your turtle to climb out and dry off. The water must be kept
clean; rotting bits of food mixed with feces will combine to make an unhealthful habitat and a sick turtle. Turtles are messy
eaters and defecate in their water, so cleaning will be an almost daily routine.
The water temperature must be maintained between 75-86 degrees F (23.8-30 C). If you buy a submersible
pre-calibrated heater, test it first and make sure the water is the proper temperature before you put your turtle in the water.
Too cold and it won't eat; too hot and you'll cook it. Buy good quality an aquarium thermometer and monitor the temperature
the room the turtle is being kept in is always over 75 F (23.8 C), then you will only need to heat up a basking area, rather
than heating up the room, too. Using an incandescent light or spot light, allow the area closest to the light to reach 85-88
F (29.4-31 C).
Make sure there is absolutely no way for
the light to fall into the water or for the turtle to come into direct contact with the light bulb. Be aware that the light
will heat up the water to a certain degree so be sure to monitor the water temperature.
Young sliders, and any sick turtle, should
be kept warmer (water temperatures between 82-85 F) than the average healthy adult. Sustained low temperatures (between 65-72
F [18.3-22.2 C]) will cause turtles to stop feeding and respiratory infections may result.
If the room is not warm enough to provide the turtle
with the proper air temperature gradient, you will need to supplement the heat, providing another source of heat which may
be used day and night in addition to the basking light. One alternative is to use a ceramic heat elements (CHE). CHEs screw
into regular incandescent sockets and come in a variety of watts, and last a very long time. Safety warning: you must
install CHEs into porcelain light sockets. These devices throw enough heat upwards to melt plastic sockets.
Note: Don't guess at the water or air
temperatures. Reptile species have very specific temperature ranges during the day and during the night. If your guess is
off, that will make the difference between a reptile that thrives, and one who merely survives - or dies. Use thermometers.
sunny days when the outside temperatures are warm, feel free to put your turtle outside for a while for some sunshine. Either
move your turtle tank outside (so long as it is not a glass enclosure, which can overheat to the point of causing fatal hyperthermia),
or set up a secure outdoor enclosure for your turtle to sun and soak in, or set up an indoor enclosure complete with a UVB-supplemented
basking and a swimming area. The latter will be required if you cannot regularly get your turtle outside or otherwise safely
exposed to sunlight (not filtered through plastic or glass), or live where the amount of natural UVB is not sufficient year
round to enable your turtle to make the amount of pre-vitamin D it needs to ensure adequate calcium metabolism.
Keep in mind that, in the wild, when turtles get too
hot when basking in the sun or upper layers of sun-heated water, they simply dive into deeper, cooler, water or move into
a cool pocket of wet bankside overhung with plants providing shade. So, while it is great to give your turtle some direct
sunlight, you must guard against it getting too hot, which can result in fatal hyperthermia. If you cannot provide a suitably
cooler retreat area your turtle can go to when it gets too warm, and you can't keep a direct eye on your turtle to watch for
signs of overheating, don't put it outside. Enclosures are like automobiles: the temperatures inside reach 20-30 degrees hotter
than the outside air temperature, making the inside potentially lethal on mildly warm days.
Exposure to a ultraviolet B (UVB)-producing
fluorescent light, such as a Vita-LiteŽ, is recommended by some turtle experts, and is considered mandatory by others. UVB
exposure is an essential part of the calcium metabolization process, and calcium deficiencies are very common in captive turtles.
Many herpetoculturists use UVB-producing fluorescents because of their importance in calcium metabolization but also because
the UVA they produce may have subtle psychological benefits such as improved appetite, since many reptiles see into the ultraviolet
Electric Shock Hazard
with tropical fish, there is a danger of electrical shock--to you and to the turtle--when using electric filters, water heaters
and lamps in and around the tank of water. All electrical cords should be connected to a ground-fault interrupter which shuts
off the current if anything happens. Buy one at your local hardware store. Do not use bulbs with higher wattage than your
light fixture is rated for (in other words: no 100 watt bulbs in 60 watt fixtures). Turtles will investigate and knock things
about. You must secure your water heater behind an immovable wall or partition to turtle-proof it.
To ensure proper nutrition, strong growth and a healthy
long-lived turtle, feed a varied diet to both adults and juveniles. Just remember that adults eat less animal protein and
more vegetable matter. Juveniles must be fed every day; adults can be fed once every two to three days. Do not feed more than
they can eat; the excess food will go to waste and foul the water. Feed a combination of the following foods:
(No more than 25% of total diet)
Trout Chow, commercial floating
fish, reptile or turtle food (pellets, sticks or tablets). The pellets and sticks have the advantage of being formulated specifically
for reptiles and don't decompose in the water as fast as other foods.
Animal Protein (No
more than 25% of total diet)
Live feeder fish--do not feed defrosted frozen fish; they are deficient in thiamin
and excess consumption will cause a thiamin deficiency in your turtle. Earthworms--buy them from a reptile or aquarium store;
do not feed the ones from your yard as they may contain bacteria, parasites and pesticides against which your turtle has no
immunity. Finely chopped raw lean beef, beef heart and cooked chicken are okay for treats, but are not appropriate as a major
part of a balanced diet for whole prey eaters. Raw chicken and beef is too often riddled with Salmonella, E. coli
and other food-borne organisms. High quality dog kibble can be offered occasionally as treats, too; like muscle meat,
dog and cat foods are not appropriate when used as a significant portion of a turtle's diet.
Adult red ear sliders normally reach 5 to 8 inches Long
Males are smaller then females, when adult the male has longer fore claws and longer tails.
If kept under the proper conditions red ear sliders often live to fifteen to twenty five years sometimes
1. An appropriate size container
Turtles require heavy amounts of Calcium to promote shell hardness
2. Clean Water
3. An area where the turtle can leave the water to dry out and bask
4. A heat source
5. Proper diet
Water height - Red ear sliders require enough water that lets them
swim. Keep the water level at least as deep as the length of the turtles shell. The water level can be much deeper but provide
a graded access to the basking area
Water Temperature - water should be kept at 82 - 85 degrees.
Diet - Commercial diets include floating fish diets, turtle and reptile
pellets you can also supplement these with earthworms, beef heart or cut pieces of cooked chicken , Tender Vittles
(cat food), canned low fat high quality dog food, finely chopped mixed vegetables. Also add some Romain Lettuce to the tank
to allow them to graze on it.
Use meats sparingly as turtles are mostly herbivores.
and growth, always provide a Calcium Block for them to nibble on.
- Turtles are pro-ported to carry a diseasee called Salmonella as does
raw chicken, pork, eggs and most other foods. Most turtles breed for the trade are bred
and raised in scientifically disease free environments.
the possibility of infection
make sure your household follows the following rules:
1. After handling a turtle, thoroughly
wash your hands with an antiseptic scrub.
Make sure your children follow this rule.
2. Do not put your hands in your
mouth while handling turtles.
3. Never kiss a turtle. Let children
know that they are organisms that live in turtle water that can make them very sick.
Disclaimer: Pursuant to Federal
regulations, Turtles under 4" in carapace length are sold Domestically for Export, Educational, Scientific or Exhibitian
purposes only. Export orders must supply import license.
the smallest turtles, start with at least a 30-50 gallon (113-189 liter) glass aquarium (see Water before you rush out and
buy that 30 gallon aquarium you saw on sale!) . If you are not interested in actually being able to watch your turtle swimming
around under water, you can use a suitably large opaque plastic container such as a large plastic storage box bottom, concrete
mixing bin or deep kitty litter pan. You can use clean aquarium rock and gravel to build a slope up from the wet end (the
pool) to the dry end (the land). You can silicone together pieces of Plexiglas to make a moveable platform onto which your
turtle can crawl onto to rest. Floating or anchored cork rafts or logs are another alternative. Rough rocks must not be used
as they can scratch turtle shells which allows bacterial and fungal infections to get started and penetrate into the turtle's
Note: one of the biggest mistakes aquatic
turtle keepers make is not providing a body of water that deep, long and wide enough for their turtle. The minimum size required
for a 4" turtle will not work for a 6" or 8" (15 or 20 cm) aquatic turtle, and certainly not for a full grown one. Since turtles
will grow relatively quickly when they are cared for properly, you should start off with an enclosure size big enough for
your turtle to comfortably grow into for at least 1-2 years. That will give you some time to think out, plan, and build the
turtle's next, much larger, enclosure.
Think two turtles are better than one? Assuming
they are compatible, it can be nice for your turtles to have one another for company. But two turtles require an even larger
enclosure than a single turtle. So, unless you are prepared to keep and service giant enclosures for turtles who can easily
reach the size of dinner plates, rethink getting two...or even one.
The water must be at least 1.5 to 2 times your turtle's total length (called carapace
length, or CL) in depth, with several extra inches of air space between the surface of the water to the top edge of the tank
to prevent escapes. The tank length needs to be at least 4-5 times the CL, and the front-to-back width should be at least
2-3 times the CL. So, for a turtle who is 4" CL, your enclosure water area must be at minimum 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) deep,
16-20 inches (40-51 cm) in length, and 8-12 inches (20-31 cm) in width. As you can see, if you are going to have a land area
at one end as well as sufficient water area, you need something much larger than a 10-20 gallon (38-76 liter) tank.
Keep in mind that if your turtle is not
yet full grown (hint: if he is not yet as large as a dinner plate, he is not full grown), you not only need to provide room
in the tank (water and land) for him the size he is now, you need to provide additional room to allow for future growth.
Proper water filtering systems are necessary to keep the water fairly fresh between
your weekly changes. If you have a powerful filter system and you feed your turtle in another tank, you may be able to get
away with replacing 25-50% of the water each week for two or three weeks, emptying and cleaning out the tank thoroughly every
third or fourth week. Remember to replace the water with warm water. Talk to your aquarium shop about the following types
of filters that are suitable for Red-Eared Sliders: canister, undergravel, sponge, and power filters. You will also need some
type of automated siphon for the partial changes of water between the overall heavy-duty changes and cleaning.
Plant Matter (50% or
more of total diet)
Offer leaves of dark leafy greens such as collard, mustard and dandelion greens. Offer shredded
carrots (and carrot tops), squash and green beans. Thawed frozen mixed vegetables may be used occasionally, but care should
be taken as some frozen green vegetables develop thiaminase which destroys that all-important B vitamin. Fruit can be offered
raw; shred hard fruits like apples and melons, chopping soft fruits such as berries. To help keep their beak in trim, let
them gnaw on pieces of cantaloupe with the (well washed) rind still attached. Check out the edible aquatic plants sold at
aquarium stores, too. You can drop these into their enclosure for them to free feed upon.
Vitamin Supplements should be added twice a week.
Use a good reptile or turtle multivitamin. Turtles must also be supplied with additional calcium; they often enjoy taking
bites out of calcium blocks and gnawing on cuttlebone, so always have some available to them.
Watch your turtle for any signs of illness: cloudy, closed or swollen eyes; swollen
cheeks; open mouth breathing; bubbly mucous around the nose or mouth; runny stools; loss of appetite; listlessness; spots
appearing on plastron (bottom shell), carapace or body; soft shell or excessive shedding.
Newly acquired turtles are under a lot of stress
and may be riddled with bacterial or parasitic infections that may be passed along to you or your kids. One of the reasons
for it being illegal to sell turtles under 4" in the U.S. is that, once the law was passed, it greatly reduced the number
of hospitalizations and deaths of children whose parents did not realize that most turtles carry Salmonellae, which is irregularly
passed through their feces into their water, and onto their shells and skin. Read up on proper precautions to take to prevent infection of children
and immunocompromised adults.
Always take a sick turtle to a reptile vetenarian. Reptile vets are an important part of keeping healthy reptiles healthy, and helping sick ones attain health.
Many people don't want to spend more for a vet visit than they paid for the animal. A good rule of thumb for all animals,
especially 'cheap' ones, is: if you can't afford the vet, you can't afford the pet.
Make sure to have your children checked out by their
pediatrician if they begin to exhibit any signs of illness (nausea, stomach aches, vomiting, diarrhea).
Handwashing Hint: One way to get your children to
make sure they are vigorously rubbing their hands with soap (including between their fingers and under and around their fingernails)
is to have them sing the Happy Birthday song two times in a row. Depending on how often they wash their hands, you might eventually
want to encourage them to sing softly, or sing it in their heads. Decrease the risk of infection by using a liquid soap in
pump bottle instead of a bar of soap, and disposable paper towels for drying the hands and turning off the water faucet.