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Natural History


Red-Eared Sliders are found through the United States east of the Rockies.

Red-Eared Sliders are Texas’s most common aquatic turtles. This is the most common species of turtle sold in the pet trade. These turtles get their name from a broad red stripe behind their ear area and their habit of sliding off rocks and logs when startled.The name "slider" refers to the quick retreat from their basking site into the water when they feel even the slightest bit threatened. Older turtles are often covered with a thick coat of algae. The young turtles are eaten by a variety of predators (organism that feeds on other animals) including birds, raccoons, alligators and large fish.

Red-Eared Slider is a medium sized turtle with a dark green oval shell, marked with yellow in younger turtles, green legs with thin yellow stripes and a green head with a red stripe behind the ear area.

Red-Eared Slider are cool-blooded turtles (animals whose body temperature is the same as, or nearly the same as the animal’s surroundings) and spend much of the day sunning on rocks and logs. They are found in most permanent slow- moving water sources with mud bottoms. When population numbers get high these turtles move across the land to other bodies of water in search of food and space. They prefer slow moving bodies of water with plenty of vegetation. While they are strong underwater swimmers, these sliders spend much of the warmer hours of the day on logs or rocks basking in the sun( or, when very small, on marsh weed sand other aquatic plants). Sometimes you will see sliders stacked on top of each other up to five high! Sliders will sleep at night underwater, usually resting on the bottom or floating near the surface, using their inflated throat as flotation aid. Sliders become inactive at temperatures below 10°C. They will often hibernate underwater or under banks and hollow stumps. Emergence occurs in early March to late April. Sliders bury themselves in loose soil or mud during the winter to escape the cold. All the sliders are omnivores, eating both animal protein and vegetable or 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 eat tiny fish, amphibian larva, water snails and a varsity of plants growing in the water and on the land.

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 13cm(5 inches) in length. In captivity, females may reach maturity at about 3 1/2 years. During the breeding season between March and July, the female may find herself swept away by a persistent suitor. Red-Eared Sliders may produce up to three clutches of 4 to 23 eggs in a single year. With each nest, the female will go on shore and dig a shallow hole that is 3-10 inches wide. She deposits her eggs in these excavations and subsequently covers them up with soil and materials to seal in the eggs for protection from predators and the elements. The young turtles hatch 60-75 days later, although they may spend the winter in the nest .Number of young: 4-23 from oval, white eggs with leathery shells. Female turtles lay their eggs in holes that they dig in the ground and leave. Young turtles are born having to take care of themselves.

The Red-Eared Slider has a History in the pet trade starting in 1960’. They were very abundant, easy to breed and attractive turtles. Sliders, especially Red-Eared have been heavily collected for the pet trade and are sold by the millions in pet shops across the world. Because of lack of knowledge, few survive for long in captivity. U.S. government now require turtles to be at least 4 inches in length before they can be sold as pets in the USA. This is problematic for those species whose full adult size is 10 cm(4 inches) or less. The ones sold legally will be at least 10 cm(4 inches) long from the neck end of the carpace (top shell) to the tail end of the carpace. In Europe, Mexico and Japan they are very popular as pets. In recent years, number of adult sliders and related turtle species have been trapped for the food trade, many have been exported to Asia. They have been found in California, France, Africa, Japan and so on. The biggest threat to sliders is Man. They are exploited for the food and pet trade, slider eggs are used as a fish bait. Sliders are often killed on roads by automobiles and are sometimes persecuted by fishermen who mistakenly consider the turtles to be fish eaters.

As with all wild-caught reptiles, animals founded in pet stores have been under stress for some time. As a result they, they are most likely suffering from protozoan and bacterial infections, including Salmonella which is easily transmitted to young children. Many of these turtles will not eat when they are stressed or frightened, and cannot eat when they are too cold. Take your turtle to a vet. If maintained at the proper temperatures, fed a healthy varied diet and kept in stress-free active environment, your turtle may outlive you: some individuals have lived more than 100 years!




Site Created: 1/8/2002, Last modified: 12/7/2003 by Petra Grujic