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Red Ear Slider Care Sheet
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Red Ear Slider Turtle

Chrysemys Scripta



Housing & Substrate:

Red Ear Slider Turtles need to be kept in large enclosures. They need 10 gallons of water per every inch of shell. So a 4 inch turtle needs 40 gallons of water. Yes, I know it seems like a lot but think about it… 40 gallon tank or lake. The water needs to be double the length of their shell. 4 inch turtle should have no more then 8 inches of water.

Young turtles can drown if they do not have easy access to a dry area out of the water.

A large land area is nice. You can buy floating docks, or build your own area. Make sure its sturdy! DO NOT use any small gravel or sand at the bottom of the tank. They will try to eat it and can hurt themselves bad. Either buy some tile for the bottom, LARGE river rocks or leave it empty.  They can walk fine on the bottom of an empty tank.


Food & Water:

They do drink the water they live in so it needs to be cleaned all the time. Every 3 days of water cleaning OR a filter and every week as needed.  They can not swallow food if they are on land and the food must be placed directly in the water. Most turtles won’t go after anything that is at the bottom they like the stuff that floats. Young turtles most likely won’t go after vegetables. They don’t notice it is food. Floating pellets, collared greens, mustard greens, krill, and feeder goldfish are all good items to be fed. Do not feed iceberg lettuce it has little to no nutrients and is mostly water.  You should also supply a calcium bone for them to gnaw on for supplements. It will also help with their “beaks” keep them down and not so sharp.


Heat & Lighting:

You will need to provide your turtle a UVB producing light. This light needs to be on for 10-12 hours a day. During this time, the light will provide enough UV rays for proper digestion and release appropriate amounts of vitamin D3 to allow for calcium absorption. Without a UVB light it is extremely likely for your pet to get a medical condition called MBD. This stands for Metabolic Bone Disease which is fatal if not caught early enough.

UVB lights can be found at most large pet stores. (Do not confuse UV lights with aquarium tube lights) You will need a submersible heater for the water to be kept at 78F. You don’t want to use a stick on thermometer be sure to get a digital probe thermometer to sit in the water. The stick on ones have been proven to be up to 20 degrees inaccurate. You will also need a basking lamp to put over the land area. They can come up and bath in the “sun” produced by any light bulb or heat bulb. Be sure to use a fixture that has a ceramic piece for the bulb to screw in to reduce the risk of fire. The basking area should be kept at a temperature of approximately 78 degrees Fahrenheit.



You will be able to tell the gender of your turtle once he or she is at least 4 inches in shell length. Females will have a flat bottom shell with no large dips. Males will be concave near the vent to allow for mating. Males will also have much longer claws and a longer thicker tail. Females have short slender tails. The cloaca or vent on the turtle will be closer to the base of the tail for a female and further away for males. With all of these differences you should be able to tell.



The enclosure of the turtle should be cleaned often and also have a filter. Once a week is the minimum times it should be thoroughly cleaned out. A dirty enclosure is a sick turtle. Keep it clean.

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Red Ear Slider Care and Other Helpful RES Information