Red Eared Slider Facts
Red Eared Slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) are among the most widespread pet turtles you’re likely to see in the home. They’re hardy pets that will live for a very long time, sometimes up to 70 years.
Although the red eared slider is certainly not an endangered species, FDA regulation title 21 prohibits the purchase of turtle eggs and turtles which have a carapace (shell) length of less than 4 inches.
This ban was introduced in 1975 as a way to curtail the issue of Salmonella infections in children.Keep in mind, this is because baby turtles were often found by young children who would pick them up and bring them home.
As with every pet, it is best to wash your hands right after playing with handling your pet turtle. The red eared slider is no different.
Fun Fact: A female red eared slider is generally larger than the males.
Where Are Red Eared Slider Turtles Found?
Although their natural environment may be the southern USA, the red eared slider is commonly seen in every part of America. This is because they are available in almost every pet store around.
Unfortunately with the excitement of owning a pet turtle that looks like Michelangelo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles people rush into possessing a pet turtle without realizing the responsibility involved.
When they decided a red eared slider pet turtle wasn’t for them they often released their unwanted turtle straight into the wild.
This is a major issue because releasing any pet into the wild can pass on diseases and put an invasive species into a habitat which can harm native plants and animals.
In addition there are moral issues in that you may very well be releasing a turtle which has lost many of it’s survival skills and is unable to feed itself, which will likely bring about starvation and eventually death.
Since most pet turtles like a red eared slider have never been in the wild and only know life in a tank, they are not well adapted to live in the wild.
What Do Red Eared Slider Turtles Eat
You’ll find they prefer a wide variety of plants and animals. These types of turtles are referred to as omnivores and because they are often found in small rivers and ponds, they will eat anything they can get thier mouths on in the water.
What Do Red Eared Slider Turtles Eat In The Wild
In the wild they’re likely to eat any number of bugs and insects that are common in the wet areas they inhabit along with the local vegetation. These meals include:
Fish, Tadpoles, Crayfish, Flies, Snails, Crickets, Meal Worms, Wax Worms, Pests, Various Plant Species, etc
What Do Red Eared Slider Turtles Eat In The Home
For pets in the home, you’ll find that many of the same items found in the wild can be included a red eared slider diet.
It’s important to note that, like most pet turtles, the red eared slider doesn’t always get 100% of the required nutrients in the food they eat. Because of this you should always try to include a multi-vitamin supplement in their meals.
As pets, the red eared slider is happy to eat many of the same things as in the wild. Keep in mind when feeding your red eared slider “wild” bugs and insects is that you have to be careful that they are not diseased or otherwise infected with something that could harm your pet turtle. You can feed them:
Chicken, Shrimp, Carrots, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Celery, Flies, Snails, Slugs, Various Plant Species, etc.
Of course you can always go the route of giving your turtle commercial pet food which can be a supplement for fresh foods when they aren’t readily available.
No matter what you think would be best for your pet turtle, keep in mind that they are like every other animal and have tastes and preferences that differ between pets and types of turtles.
Don’t be worried if they aren’t too excited about their meal immediately. Wait and see if they come around after a couple of days. But if after that time they are still not interested, consider swapping out some items to make sure they stay healthy.
What To Avoid When Feeding A Red Eared Slider
As with any pet, you need to do your best to ensure your red eared slider is as healthy as it can be. Furthermore you need to make sure your family is healthy at the same time. As with all types of turtles there are certain things you should remember to NEVER feed or do with them.
Here are some helpful tips to balance the best of both worlds.
No Fried Foods: Avoid giving your pet turtle any sort of fried or oily foods. That means no french fries, donuts, onion rings, etc.
No Sugary Foods: Avoid giving your pet turtle any type of sugary foods such as candy or chocolate. Not only is it unhealthy for your turtle, a lot of these foods tend to be hard and may pose a choking hazard for your little friend.
No Dairy Foods: Turtles don’t have the necessary enzymes to correctly digest lactose. So be sure to avoid items such as milk, cheese, butter, etc.
No Sharing Foods: Avoid sharing your food and meals with your turtle. Many turtles, like most aquatic animals, carry salmonella bacteria. Salmonella does not affect them like it does humans.
No Kissing: No seriously, don’t kiss your turtle. Though they are incredibly cute when they are young and small, they carry salmonella and the last thing you want is to become sick from your turtle.
No Dirty Hands: Whenever you handle your turtle be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap. If you have children, be sure to enforce this rule every time.
And there you have it. The Do’s and Don’ts of a happy healthy pet turtle. Like every pet, the red eared slider can make an excellent companion when taken care of properly.
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