Juvenile Red Ear Slider Turtle
Age Group: Juvenile
Common Name: Red Ear Slider Turtle
Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta elegans
Description: Juvenile Red Ear Slider Turtles, or RES, are sold around 2 to 4 inches in diameter. Their carapace is green, smooth and hard. Their skin is green with yellow striping and an oval red or orange patch behind each eye. Their bellies are full yellow with black spots. These turtles have earned their spot as the #1 turtle kept in American homes today due to their nice personalities and various color morphs.
Origin: Red Ear Slider Turtles are widespread throughout North America. They range from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, through the majority of Illinois and Indiana. These turtles originated from the areas around the Mississippi River south to the Gulf of Mexico. They thrive in warmer climates, especially in the southeastern United States from Colorado to Virginia and down to Florida.
Lifespan: A well cared for, captive bred red eared slider can be expected to live upwards of 40 years.
Habitat in captivity: Juvenile RES can be housed in a 20 to 40 gallon aquarium. Keep in mind that a properly cared for young turtle will grow quickly and you will soon need to upgrade its habitat. This species enjoys basking frequently and swimming. In order to ensure that your RES is thriving, you need to offer the following necessities;
- UVB Light – Your turtle requires UVB to develop a strong, healthy shell and bones. UVB allows your turtle to metabolize the calcium necessary to do this. These lights need to be changed every 6 months if you are using a Coil Bulb or every year with a Mercury Vapor Bulb
- Basking Light and UVA – UVA rays are necessary to encourage proper feeding responses, digestion and behavior in reptiles. Your RES will want a basking area that is dry and maintained in the high 80’s.
- Heat – In addition to a basking light, water temperatures should be maintained at approximately 75 to 78 degrees by using a submersible water heater.
- Filtration – While you are raising your juvenile Red-Ear Slider Turtle, good water filtration is necessary to maintain a healthy living environment free of ammonia and other harmful toxins. This is for the health benefits of both turtle and keeper.
- Habitat Décor – Keeping in mind that these turtles love to bask, make sure they are offered a dry basking area and deep water. The rest is up to the discretion of the owner. The enclosure can be as simple or complex as you want. Cage decorations can include substrate, ornaments, plants and Driftwood.
Diet: Red-eared Sliders are omnivores, but younger turtles prefer a carnivorous diet that will change as they grow. They will readily eat a wide variety of foods. There are commercially available diets, like those from Zilla or ReptoMin. Along with that they can be fed feeder fish, feeder crickets, earthworms, krill, blood worms, occasional crayfish and ghost shrimp, aquatic plants (such as Water Lilies, Water Hyacinth, Duckweed, Anacharis, Water Lettuce, Water Fern, Pondweed, Water Starwort, Hornwort, Water Milfoil, and Frogbit), some vegetables (such as Zucchini, Squash, Collard Greens, Beet Leaves, Endive, Romaine, Red Leaf Lettuce, Kale, Escarole, Mustard Greens and Dandelions) and some fruits (i.e. Banana).
Size at adulthood: Red ear sliders can grow to a diameter of 12 inches. Females are typically larger than males.
Community Turtle: Red eared sliders are communal and are best housed in groups. One juvenile can be kept for a short time in a 20-gal tank. When housing multiple turtles, add 10-gal for every inch of turtle.