Description of Red Ear Slider Turtle
The red ear slider turtle is a small freshwater turtle native to the Mississippi Valley in the southern United States. Red eared sliders are a medium-sized freshwater turtle, generally 125–200 mm long, but can grow up to 350 mm long. Females are usually larger than males (plastron length 150–195 mm, compared to 90–100 mm for males).
The carapace and skin is olive to brown with yellow stripes or spots. While specimens in captivity tend to have neat shells, usually the shells of wild species are covered by a layer of algae, hide their distinctive patterns and colors.
Red Ear Slider Turtle Habitat
Red ear sliders are native to the Mississippi Valley in the southern United States, including Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Of course, naturalized populations exist in every continent except Antarctica, including Asia and Australia.
Preferred habitats include a range of slow-moving or still freshwater lakes and ponds (rarely in flowing water). Red ear slider turtle readily tolerate artificial ponds and lakes, and often thrive in dams that have been polluted by excessive organic matter. They can tolerate human-made canals, brackish marshes, and ponds in city parks.
Red Ear Slider Turtle Diet
Adult red ear turtles tend to be herbivores, and juveniles tend to be more omnivorous. Both prey on mollusks and invertebrates opportunistically - notably snails, worms, shrimp, insects and their larvae, and crayfish. They are known to eat fish, frogs’ eggs and tadpoles, and water snakes.
They eat a variety of aquatic plants and algae, including a number of harmful aquatic weeds such as water hyacinth. While capable of eating small vertebrates - including small reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish and birds - fish and birds are very rarely part of their diet.
Red Ear Slider Turtle Breeding
Sexual maturity is reached at 2-5 years of age. Maximum life-span is generally in the order of 20-30 years, although only 1% of hatchlings reach this age. Some references claim maximum age can be up to 75 years. Red ear slider turtle can wander up to 9 km from water to find suitable habitat, search for a mate or lay eggs.
Nests are dug well above water level, usually within 500 m of water, but sometimes up to 1.6 km away. Females can produce viable eggs for up to 5 years after mating although fertility drops to 20% or less after the first year. Females can lay up to 3 clutches (approximately 75 eggs) per season.
Red Ear Slider Turtle Care
Red eared sliders are popular pets due to low price, small size and easy maintenance. However, they can live for up to 50 years in captivity. Preferred climate is perhaps best described as temperate. However, the species is very adaptable and readily tolerates tropical and subtropical areas, generally where temperatures are between 10 and 37 degrees Celsius.
In cold climates, red ear slider turtle can overwinter in their nests. Adults can survive severe winters (-10 degrees Celsius for extended periods) by hibernation. Even, they become active when necessary for food or water, or to bask if temperatures increase.