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Chapter 1: Understanding Red Ear Slider Turtles

Chapter 2: Things to Know Before Getting a Red Ear Slider Turtles

Chapter 3: Purchasing Your Red Ear Slider Turtle

Chapter 4: Caring for Your Red Ear Slider Turtle

Chapter 5: Meeting Your Red Ear Slider Turtle’s Nutritional Needs

Chapter 6: Red Ear Slider Turtle Care and Husbandry

Chapter 7: Red Ear Slider Turtle Handling and Temperament

Chapter 8: Breeding Your Red Ear Slider Turtle

Chapter 9: Keeping Your Red Ear Slider Turtle Healthy

Chapter 1: Understanding Red Ear Slider Turtles

The Red Eared Slider Turtle is a strong, semi-aquatic turtle that gets its name from the wide reddish stripe behind its eyes. The underside of its chin is rounded with a V-shaped notched at the front of its jaw and is not flanked by cusps. Its feet are webbed and they are strong swimmers and impressive divers.

Its body is a dark olive green and has thin yellow bars and stripes on the carapace, or the top of its shell, as well as its face and legs. As the red eared slider matures the green coloration of the top shell becomes covered with black pigmentation making them almost appear black with no markings visible. This is especially true for males as the turtle’s age.

The top shell, or carapace of the RES turtle is oval in shape, it is smooth to the feel and is flattened with a weak keel. The bottom part of the red eared slider shell, or the plastron, is predominantly yellow in color and bears a dark marking on the center of each of its scutes. It has webbed feet to help maneuver itself through water when it swims.

The average length of a red eared slider turtle is 5 to 8 inches with a rare record of 11.8 inches. The female has a much thicker tail and is visibly longer than its male counterpart. The cloacal entry of a male red eared slider is found beyond the edge of the carapace whilst the opening for the female is at the rear or found under the rear edge of the carapace. The claws of the males, sported longer and curved, are used in mating and courtship.

In its natural habitat of the wild, the red eared slider turtle will usually be seen on logs, rocks, and other surfaces as it basks. They do this because, like most reptiles, these turtles are cold blooded and rely heavily on outside sources for heat and warmth.

The red eared slider turtles appear to share similarities with the painted turtle due to the bright markings both turtle species sport. The top shell, or the carapace, of this RES turtle is higher domed in comparison to the Western Painted Turtle and has been noted to be weakly keeled.

The top three things a red eared slider turtle needs to thrive well would be temperate surroundings, a proper, balanced diet and clean tank water. The proper care for the RES turtle, as with other turtles, is a lot more complicated than what most people assume. A responsible adult should be the primary caregiver of the RES and should take up the responsibility for the RES upkeep and the cleaning of the confines of where it is housed.  An adult hobbyist is to be responsible for feeding it and monitoring the turtle for any possible signs of illness to ensure a long healthy life.

Basic Red Ear Slider Turtle Information

The red eared slider, native from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico, is commonly confused with the Western Painted Turtle because of similarities in size and coloration of carapace. To distinguish a red eared slider from a western painted turtle, look for the evidence of a higher domed carapace which is weakly keeled.

Traits to quickly distinguish the slider include yellow marginal scutes, a yellow colored plastron covered in darker, blotchy markings with a red ear mark found immediately behind the eye. It is to be noted though, that this ear marking is not always apparent in older turtles.

Male sliders are smaller in size as compared to female sliders, and they sport long claws on their front feet which are utilized during courtship and mating.

Summary of Red Ear Slider Turtle Facts

Basic Red Ear Slider Turtle Information

  • Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta elegans
  • Breed: Emydidae
  • Size: 15 – 20 cm or 6 -8 inches; females are notably bigger

in adulthood

  • Maximum Length: can grow up to 12 inches
  • Shell Texture: smooth
  • Colors: Olive green with bright red stripes behind its eyes
  • Temperament: relaxed but can snap and nip when


  • Strangers: skittish and guarded
  • Children: strongly discouraged
  • Other Pets: strongly discouraged; may be introduce to    similar breed
  • Exercise Needs: Swimming, Diving, Hunting Small Prey
  • Health Conditions: pre – dispose to illnesses such as Swollen and Closed Eyes, Ear Abscesses, Parasites , Shell Rot, Respiratory Infection , Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)
  • Lifespan: can live up to 20 – 50+ years

Origin and Distribution

Belonging to the Emydidae family, the red eared slider turtle is also known by its scientific name Chrysemys scripta elegans (formerly Trachemys scripta elegans). In the US, the normal range of occurrence for this sort of turtle is from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico and from the East Coast to western Texas.

Presumably due to people releasing pets, these turtles have also been spotted and found in other regions of the United States. This turtle likes to spend time in or around small bodies of slow moving water as well as ponds and marshes, which all supply many areas for basking as well as an abundance of food. However, the red ear slider turtle has also been spotted around lakes and rivers.

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