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Do Red Eared Sliders Need Water

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Do Red Eared Sliders Need To Be In The Water All The Time

How Much Water Should Be in a Red Eared Slider Turtle Tank?

Red-eared sliders are aquatic turtles, or to be more precise semi-aquatic turtles. It means that they spend most of their lives both in the water and on the land.

To answer the question above, no, they dont need to be in the water all the time.

However, they do need plenty of water in their tanks. Without it, they wont survive.

Unlike dogs, turtles dont need walks and they dont need you to get them outside.

What do turtles need, it is a perfect set up environment, where they have a water area, as well as dry area. That way, you will give them the opportunity to decide when to be in the water, and when to be on land, based on their needs.

A healthy red-eared slider turtle will spend the majority of its time in the water.

Occasionally, they climb on the dry surface and bask under the lights.

The water in the tank plays a big role in the red-eared slider turtle diet, as well.

Red-eared sliders lack saliva, therefore they have difficulties swallowing the food.

Water helps them to swallow easier, to stay hydrated, and to digest the food better.

As you can see, aquatic turtles cant survive without water. For how long, we will see in the next section.

Why Are Turtles Under 4 Inches Illegal

It’s illegal to sell or distribute pet turtles with shells less than 4 inches long because they spread salmonella. Forty years ago, the U.S. outlawed the sale of small turtles as pets because they harbor salmonella, a bacterium that causes a highly unpleasant and occasionally deadly illness in humans.

Buying A Healthy Slider

Red-eared sliders can be purchased from large-scale dealers, breeders, animal rescues, and from pet stores, both online and offline. Many of the sliders that are sold by large-scale dealers were raised in turtle farms in the southern United States. Regardless of the source, its always a good idea to do some research before purchasing your turtle.

A turtle that has not been cared for properly could have health issues that may not become apparent until you get home, or it might die prematurely. You can improve your luck by examining the turtle first, preferably in the store .

Large-scale dealers will not likely know the histories of each and every turtle they sell since they handle so many. Likewise, unless a donor family has provided records, a rescue operation may not know anything about a turtles age, or whether veterinary records exist.

Professional breeders will likely be the most informed, since they hatch the eggs themselves and keep records. Turtles that are sold by street vendors should almost always be avoided.

If possible, try to inspect the environment in which the turtles are being sold. What you uncover here could tip you off to problems with their care that might adversely impact your turtles health. For instance, are the turtles overcrowded?

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Taking Care Of A Red Eared Slider: Care Lifespan And Diet

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Red-eared sliders can make good pets. They have a feisty stay off my lawn! type of attitude and great swimming ability. Theyre a great deal of fun to watch. This article will help you understand their special needs and decide if theyre the right pet for you.

How Much Water Does A Red


Weve seen that red-eared slider turtles need water in order to live. Weve seen for how long they can survive without water.

Now, well see how much water they actually need.

In general, people buy red eared sliders when they are in their early stages of life.

As babies, red-eared sliders are small turtles, usually with sizes around 1 to 2 inches.

Most people, unaware of species growth potential, assume that these turtles will stay small forever. So they set up a small tank with a little swimming area.

But thats not the case. At least, not when we are talking about red-eared sliders.

These turtles can grow very big. Not fast, but in time they will outgrow their current tank. You need to take this fact into account when you are setting up your first red-eared slider tank.

How much water they need will depend on the size of the tank. To better understand this, read our detailed article on that subject: Red-eared Slider Tank Size.

In short, they need enough water so they can swim freely, but not too deep, so they can easily climb up on a dry area when they get tired.

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What Type Of Tank Is Best For A Red

There are a few different styles of tanks you can choose from for a red-eared slider depending on your preferences . Standard rectangular glass aquariums, custom-built enclosures, and indoor/outdoor ponds are all great options for housing, though their price points vary significantly.

As I touched on earlier, size is the most important thing when it comes to creating an ideal habitat for your red-eared slider. As long as the enclosure is large enough, wet enough, and warm enough, you can get creative with its layout and design. Well cover the first two options in this section, then well go over indoor/outdoor ponds below.

Standard glass aquariums are usually one shape: long and rectangular. This is typically the least expensive enclosure style, but it also provides the least amount of customization options since its shape cant really be modified. Still, standard aquariums are durable and look great as a centerpiece in most homes for those wanting to show off their sliders.

Next, we have custom-built enclosures, which really run the gamut when it comes to shapes and layouts. These tend to be more expensive than pre-made glass aquariums. However, they can be heavily customized to suit your preferences. Buy locally if possible, as the cost of shipping these custom builds can be pricey. You wont be able to find these enclosures in pet shops like you would a typical glass aquarium.

Is It Okay To Use Tap Water For Turtles

On that note, since its been established that youre going to need A LOT of water for your red-eared slider, you might be wondering if you can just fill up your tank from your sink or faucet tap.

The quick answer is that yes, tap water is probably not going to lead to any type of health issues for your red-eared slider.

Most tap water has a pH of about 8.0, which is right in the upper range of suitable pH levels for red-eared sliders. Unlike fish, turtles are much less susceptible to water temperature and water quality issues. However, it can still affect them.

That being said, Im going to make an argument as to why you should NOT use tap water.

The first reason is that tap water usually contains chlorine or chloramines. Chlorine or chloramine-treated water can sting your turtles eyes. Now, to get rid of chlorine-treated tap water, you simply let it sit for 24 to 48 hours. The chlorine will eventually dissipate, and bam! Youve got dechlorinated water!

You cant do that with chloramine-treated water. Chloramine is chlorine bound to ammonia. Now, Im not a chemistry expert, but from what I understand, it takes a lot longer for this type of water to dissipate.

The second reason is that tap water can destroy your filters natural bacteria build-up, and upset the overall water cycle and quality.

What this bacteria also does is help eliminate ammonia that builds up in your aquarium, which usually comes from turtle waste and uneaten food.

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Do I Need To Give My Red

The key to proper nutrition for a red-eared slider is a diverse and varied diet containing a balance of vegetable and animal protein, depending on the pets age. Some veterinarians suggest adding a balanced, commercially available multivitamin once per week with an additional source of calcium, such as a calcium block or cuttlebone, twice per week.

What Size Tank Does A Red

How to take care of a Turtle? ð?¢ RED EARED SLIDER

Akash Naik/

Although they start out very small as babies at only a few inches long, red-eared sliders grow very quickly. However, you do have the option of starting your turtle out in a smaller enclosure as a baby until they reach their full size within a year or two. Alternatively, you could also place a baby red-eared slider in a full-sized tank with no issues. In fact, theyll actually love having the extra space to explore!

As a general rule of thumb, red-eared sliders require at least 10 gallons of enclosure space for every inch of their shell length. For a baby turtle, an enclosure size of about 30 to 50 gallons is recommended. This size is only adequate until the turtle reaches around 1 to 2 years old, though!Once they reach adulthood, theyll need at least 75 to 100 gallons to feel comfortable in captivity.

Additionally, as red-eared sliders are semi-aquatic, they need lots of open water to swim in at their leisure. The depth of the water at its deepest point should be at least twice the length of the turtles body. The total tank length should also be at least 5 to 6 times the length of the turtles body. Remember, your slider could live for 30 years or more, so the cost of a suitable, comfortable enclosure is a worthy investment.

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When Do Red Eared Sliders Go Up To Six Months Without Water

You must know by now that Red Eared Sliders cannot survive for more than a week outside of water. However, there are instances when it can go up to six months.

This only happens during winter, when the creature is brumating. Red Eared Sliders go into some form of shut down during winter because nothing grows at this time to serve as their food.

A turtles body metabolic rate drops during winter, making it inactive so that the body does not demand lots of energy for sustenance. The heart rate also drops so that it only beats a couple of minutes to keep the reptile alive.

These low activity levels and a system thats shutting down buy the turtle more time, especially because it rarely goes outside to bask when its cold.

How To Tell If A Red

One of the most obvious signs of dehydration in turtles is sunken or closed eyes, and potentially even dimpled corneas. If you notice these symptoms in your turtle, you should consult a veterinarian for professional advice as soon as possible.

Like humans, much of the turtles body weight comes from water inside their tissues. If your turtle feels particularly light when you pick it up, this is a good sign of dehydration. Pay attention to their weight regularly so that you notice any differences quickly.

Dehydration can also cause lethargy and fatigue. If you pull on your turtles leg, they should retract it speedily into their shell. If the movement is slow you should take them to a veterinarian for an examination. Do not be too concerned about this if your turtle is old as over time their reflexes will slow.

If your turtle stays sitting still for extended periods of time and does not forage for food this could be as a result of dehydration. We recommend spraying the inside of their land enclosure and their food.

Try gently pinching the skin on your turtles limbs. The skin should lie flat again almost immediately if they are adequately hydrated. If it moves back slowly or not at all, your turtle is likely to be dehydrated.

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Don’t Release Into Wild

Waterways in all coastal western states of the US are seeing an increase in this species and a commensurate drop in the populations of western pond turtles. The red-eared slider is easily able to outcompete other turtle species, and so they should never be released into the wild, but rather taken to a rescue. For those wanting red ears for their ponds or aquariums, there are a number of rescues with hand raised, friendly animals in need of re-homing. And since a well-cared for adult RES can live up to 40 years, adoption is a great way to acquire a friendly and hardy adult pet.

Do Red Eared Sliders Require Regular Basking Moments


Red Eared Sliders might be aquatic creatures, but they also spend a good amount of their existence outside of water. This length of time might not be similar to that of a terrestrial tortoise, but it something you should take into account.

Ensure that you provide all resources and amenities the turtle needs when basking out in the sun. If you cant let it outside, get a UV lamp to allow it to bask and get the necessary vitamin D your pet needs to flourish.

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Red Eared Slider Morphs

While red-eared slider morphs are not as common or plentiful as other pet reptile morphs, there are some available in the pet trade. Natural or normal red-eared sliders are still gorgeous turtles, however, morphs can always be fun to look into if thats something youre interested in.

You can check out our list of 10 red-eared slider morphs if you want to see some cool morphs.

What About Water

Aquatic turtles, of course, swim in water and drink all day therefore, the only water requirement for an aquatic turtle is to keep their tanks clean and at an appropriate temperature. Having a well-functioning filtration system that is cleaned regularly is key to ensuring good water quality.

If you have any other questions about nutrition or care of your red-eared slider, make sure you seek the advice of a veterinarian familiar with turtles. Remember, turtles and other reptiles commonly carry Salmonella bacteria on their skin or in the gastrointestinal tracts, so it is important to always wash your hands thoroughly after feeding, cleaning, or handling turtles.

Contributors: Laurie Hess, DVM Rick Axelson, DVM

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Why Wont My Red

A slider turtle spending the majority of time in the water shouldnt come across as a surprise. But if you feel that its trying to avoid land at all cost, there could be some red flags. The underlying reasons could be your turtles hibernating, feeling threatened, or basking area isnt suitable.

The most common reason behind this is your turtle is in brumation. Well, you would, of course, know if your turtle is hibernating. So lets move to the next reason.

If the basking area is inadequate or dirty for your turtles liking, itll try to skip basking.

However, basking is crucial to their health. So make sure to revamp and refurbish the basking area.

Heres a super pretty and minimalistic basking platform from Penn-Plax that I absolutely love.

Turtles often prefer staying in water if they feel threatened or sense a potential predator. So, make sure that your cat and dogs are behaving themselves.

Transferring the tank to a more peaceful location in the house could also help.

Preventing Problems During Tank Setup

5 Things You NEED to Know Before Buying a RED-EARED SLIDER Turtle

Avoiding common problems during tank setup will help your turtle stay healthy and prevent issues in the future.

  • Keep in mind that if you want to use gravel in your tank, it can make the tank harder to clean. Additionally, you must make sure the pebbles are large enough that they won’t be accidentally swallowed by your red-eared slider.
  • The most common mistake when it comes to creating a habitat for your turtle is using a tank that is too small. Double-check your turtle’s measurements and make sure there’s enough room for them in the tank. If you’re unsure what size tank to purchase, err on the side of giving your pet extra space.
  • To help minimize mess, feed your turtle in a separate container to reduce the workload on the filtration system.
  • If decorating with driftwood, be aware that it can sometimes turn the water brown. In order to avoid discoloration, soak your driftwood in a separate bucket of water for several days before adding it to your turtle’s tank. Adding a carbon media to your filter will also help keep the water clear, but the carbon needs to be replaced periodically, usually once a month.

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Your tank will need to be large enough for them to swim and exercise, as well as have plenty of areas where your turtle can bask and dry off. It is a good idea to plan on having a tank of at least 20 gallons for your baby red-eared slider. As the turtle grows, you will need a bigger tank. A good rule of thumb is that you’ll need about 10 gallons in tank size per inch of the turtle’s body length. Red-eared sliders can grow up to 12 inches in length.

Fill your tank with an adequate amount of water. Turtles should have a water level that is at least twice as deep as they are long. Ideally, the amount of water should also be enough that your turtle can swim about five times its body length in one direction.

What Could Happen If They Dont Get Sufficient Water

Your red-eared slider is likely to develop dry skin and potentially even shell issues if they are not allowed access to water.

If they are moving around a lot on land then they could develop plastron sores. This is an open wound on their belly plate and is caused by the friction from rubbing their underside on the ground.

You may notice that your turtle is eating less or is reluctant to eat at all. This is because they require moisture from the water to lubricate their chewing and swallowing procedures.

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