In the red-eared slider turtle—like many turtles, alligators
and crocodiles, and some lizards—the sex of a
growing embryo is by the temperature at which it is
incubated. Cooler temperatures cause an embryo to
grow up as a male. For example, if eggs are incubated
at 26.6°C, all eggs will be male. In contrast, if
a clutch is incubated at 31°C, all eggs will be female.
A 1:1 ratio is found at about 29.2°C.
This effect is seen, it is thought, because higher temperatures
speed the conversion of testosterone to estradiol.
Embryos incubated at a warmer temperature are thus
exposed to more estradiol during the critical period
for sex determination, and they become female.
It has also been found that certain synthetic estrogens can
override the temperature effect. For example, administering
certain PCBs to eggs incubated at all-male or male-biased
temperatures produces more females than expected on
the basis of temperature alone.
The Red-Eared Sliders will be mature enough to breed
at about 5 years of age, then the female shell size
is about 15 cm (6 inches).
a 100L (30 gallon) tank. Keep the water warm but shallow,
about 10cm (about 5 inches), since during mating the
male get so concentrated that he might forget that
the female has to breath.
The mating dance of this species is very elaborated
and interesting to observe. The male swims towards
the female, and starts caressing her face with his
long front claws. He might also swim around her in
circles. He might also strike her front shell lightly
with his claws. This looks as if his front legs are
trembling. If she is receptive, she will accept him,
otherwise a fight might start. If after 45 minutes,
the female is not receptive to the male's dance, you
should remove her from the tank and try again in about
two days later. The mating itself takes about 15 minutes.
It is advisable during pregnancy
to keep the female separate from the male, so that
she will not get disturbed so much. You should handle
when absolutely necessary. Keep the water very clean
and give her enough space. Heating is also very important
as they will spend a lot of time basking to warm themselves
and the eggs inside. You might notice a change in
the appetite of the female, she might refuse to eat.
This is normal, so don't stop continuing offering
her food and consider a dietary change, she might
feel inclined to eat certain things only.
Like many pregnant mama's she may have specific preferences
at this time.
Prepare a 65L (20 gallon) tank with about 10 cm (4
inches) of potting soil or soil/vermiculite mixture.
The average gestation period
is two months, but if she doesn't find a suitable
place for laying her eggs, she might retain them inside.
During the last two weeks you will notice that she
will spend more time on land, sniffing and digging
around in order to find a proper place for laying
her eggs. At this point, you need to place the female
in the nesting quarters.
At this point, you need to place the female in a tank
with about 4" of potting soil or a soil/vermiculite
mixture. Try to watch her as much as you can to see
where she lays the eggs. She might lay from 2 to 20
eggs. There are pro's and con's to both leaving and
removing the eggs.
the eggs or not
are pro's and con's to both leaving and removing the
eggs.If the eggs are left, you eliminate the risk
of damaging the eggs.
Keepers who have a good basking area prefer to leave
the eggs where they were laid, a good point of doing
so is that they do not need to handle the eggs, digging
them out could damage the eggs or some of them. However,
if left buried, they are difficult to monitor. Also,
if an egg is infected with a fungus, it may spread
to the whole nest or the hatchlings may have a difficult
time digging their way out.
If you decide to remove the
eggs to incubate them, you will need to prepare an
incubation box. You can use a large plastic sweater
box or a plastic shoe-box. Plastic boxes are good
since they can be thoroughly cleaned and keeps well
the moisture. Drill a series of small holes into the
lid for ventilation (no
more than 1/4" in diameter). Make no more then dozen
holes of about a quarter of en inch in diameter. Then,
set up a bedding in the container of about 2 inches
of vermiculite. Use the heavy grain rather then the
fine one. Moisten the vermiculite evenly. Make sure
it is kept damp (but not
This process has to be done very carefully. Scoop
back small sections of the substrate around the nest,
very slowly and carefully, trying to feel the eggs
with your finger at the same time. Once you find an
egg, before you remove it, get a water based felt-tipped
marker and make a small mark on the top of the shell.
This is important since you need to place the eggs
in the same position the turtle layed them. Once you
have transferred all the eggs to the incubation box,
set it somewhere where it will not be disturbed. check
the eggs a few days after by just removing the lid,
but don't handle them! Check for rotten eggs, which
you should throw away immediately. If you see that
as egg is developing fungi, you can remove the fungi
with a 50/50 solution of antiseptic mouthwash and
water, which you should apply carefully with a paintbrush.
You should start to observe the eggs more carefully
about 55 to 65 days after they had been laid. Hatching
time is coming! The eggs should hatch in about 80-85
days. Once the time comes, the hatching will cut the
eggs shell with something called "egg tooth", which
falls out about an hour later and never grows back.
If they don't feel secure, they will remain inside
their shell. They may remain in the shell for an additional
day. Do not take them out, they might not come out
until the following day. Once they come out, you notice
a small sack hanging out of their bellies. This is
the yolk sac that fed them while they were incubating.
remove this sac, removing it can kill the newborn.
It is better to wait until it drops on its own. Once
it drops, you will notice a split in the plastron.
This will heal by itself too, you don't need to treat
of the newborn
the newborns in a 65L (20 gallon) tank per dozen.
Give them a basking area and a water area(shallow
not to deep. Baby
sliders may take a while to become confident swimmers
and can even drown if not provided with an easily
accessible land area.
Newborns need to master the art of floating and staying
underwater for long periods of time. Newborn Red-Eared
Sliders can actually drown if you neglect them dry
land. Once they are in their tank, start feeding them.
It is important to get them to eat. Start offering
them items on the proper Red-Eared Slider diet, you
might have to chop the food you offer, since they
are small babies. This includes chopping earthworms,
mealworms, crickets. This might sound disgusting,
but you will get used to it after a while. As with
adult Red-Eared Sliders, newborn need to have their
full spectrum light. So don't forget to include a
good lighting in the tank. The full spectrum light
will help the newborn shells to harden. Keep the water
clean. if you don't have a filter, change the water
at least 3 times a week. This is very important since
baby Red-Eared Sliders are more prone to getting eye
infections that can leave them blind for life or even
kill them than adult Red-Eared Sliders.
most consistent breeding results are obtained with
Red Eared Sliders that are cooled down during the
winter. It is recommended that beginning in January
Red Eared Sliders be kept at 50-60 degrees F, for
a period of 6-8 weeks. This can usually be done by
placing the Turtle enclosure in a cool room of the
house. Any heating units should be turned off, and
hours of lighting over the basking area should be
cut down to 10 hours. Sliders will usually not feed
at these colder temperatures and spend most of their
time in the water section. During that time, the day
length should be reduced and the lights placed on
a timer so that they are on only ten hours a day.
Males will often attempt breeding with females at
these colder temperatures and some experts feel that
successful breeding frequently happens during the
cooling period. One view is that the sluggish behavior
of females allows for more ready breeding by males.
After 6-8 weeks, the Turtles should be returned to
normal maintenance temperatures, they should be placed
on an optimal feeding schedule. Egg-laying will occur
from spring through summer. Some experts keep their
Turtles outside during that time in an enclosure that
includes a water area, a land area, and an egg-laying
section consisting of a large container with 12-16
inches of moistened garden soil or of a moistened
peat moss and soil mix. This provides an egg-laying
area that is always available when a female turtle
is ready to lay. Other experts closely monitor their
turtle's behaviors. Female Turtles that are nearing
egg-laying typically go off and feed and become unusually
active. Once this is noticed, experts will remove
the female turtles from the enclosure and place her
in a large container with 12-16 inches of soil. Female
turtles that are ready to lay will usually do so within
24-48 hours. Red Eared Sliders will lay several clutches
of 4-25 eggs per breeding season. Depending on several
factors, including the age and size of the Turtle
and the feeding and maintenance schedules, egg clutches
will be laid at intervals of 2-4 weeks. Specialist
breeders will consistently obtain 5-8 clutches per
year from large adult Red Eared Sliders. These frequent
clutches are only possible when special attention
is given to the feeding of females between clutches.
High protein diets during the breeding season will
increase multiple clutching success.
laying, the eggs should be removed and placed in a
container with moistened vermiculture (equal parts
of land and water, by weight). The eggs are placed
on the surface of the vermiculture in small finger-made
depressions to prevent rolling. The top of each egg
should be marked using a magic marker to assure that
they remain in the same position. The up side should
remain on top throughout the entire incubation. The
container is kept sealed except for a few holes for
aeration and the eggs are then incubated at 80-82
degrees F. The eggs should be regularly inspected,
and the vermiculture lightly sprayed with water to
retain moisture. Hatching should occur in 55-65 days.
As with many Turtles, the sex of Red Eared Sliders
appears to be temperature-determined during the first
weeks of incubation. Eggs incubated at 75 degrees
F, will yield primarily males and eggs incubated at
85 degrees F, will yield mostly females. The suggested
incubation temperature should result in hatchlings
of both sexes.