Red Eared Slider Care Sheet

Red Eared Slider Care
Red eared slider, photo by lliama


  • Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta elegans
  • Lifespan: Approximately 20 – 40 years based on proper care
  • Handling: Due to salmonella, it is not recommended to handle your turtle unless you have to. If you need to, make sure to wash your hands before and after handling. You may also use plastic gloves when handling to take extra caution.
  • Size: Up to 8 – 12 inches long
  • Care: Easy
  • Community: May be housed together when smaller, but should be housed separately when reaching adult size due to housing environments. One red-eared slider will be needing a 100 gallons for itself.
  • Lifestyle: Diurnal, active during the day.

Tank Size

Every red-eared slider will grow to be about 10-12 inches long. Having that being said, you are going to want to have 10 gallons (40 liters) for every inch your turtle grows.


So for example:

If your red-eared slider is 3 inches big, you are going to want to use a 30 gallon tank.

If your red-eared slider is 5 inches big, you are going to want to use a 50 gallon tank.

and so on…

Tank Setup

Red eared sliders will be living in an aquatic environment (tank or pond).


The first thing you should buy is a filter. Filters will help clean out all the bad waste (left over food, feces, and etc.) that does not belong in the tank. Check here for which filter to get.


Red eared sliders will enjoy some climbing objects like driftwood in their tank. Sometimes, or red eared sliders will bask on them if they are sticking out of the water. But even if yours does, you should still have a proper basking area set up.

Dock Station

This is the ‘real’ basking area. This is where your turtle will bask to absorb heat and UVB rays. You should have a heat lamp and a UVB bulb hanging over the basking area. A basking area is a must in a turtles tank. Having a full 100% aquatic tank will lead to shell rot and other physical problems. When setting up the dock station, make sure you do not have any sort of lighting wires near the tank or your turtle.

Lighting & Heating

When measuring temperatures, it’s best to use digital thermometers. Dial thermometers tend to give off inaccurate measurements.

UVB Bulb

This bulb is very important for the growth and health of your red-eared slider. The best bulb that most reptile enthusiasts may agree on is the reptisun made by zoomed. The reptisun comes in 3 different versions: 2.0, 5.0, and 10.0. Most of the time, the 2.0 version is used mainly for plants. So try to stay between 5.0 and 10.0 for the best results. If you will be hanging your lights directly over the basking spot area, the 5.0 will be a good choice. However, if your lights will be hanging from a father distance, then the 10.0 will be of better value to you turtle, as it is more powerful.


Note: UVB bulb must be present throughout their entire life and must be replaced every 6-7 months. UVB rays are known to diminish after this time period.

Basking Spot Lamp

This bulb is to provide heat for your turtle when he decides to bask. This heat bulb should only get the basking spot area to be around 87 – 90 °F. Any hotter or colder, the basking area will be useless. Normally a regular fluorescent house bulb will do the trick. But if you live in a colder part of the world, you will be needing a reptile heat lamp made specially for reptiles to reach the warm temperatures. Usually 75 – 100 watts will do the trick.


  • Ambient: 75 – 80 °F
  • Basking Temperature:  87 – 90 °F
  • Water Temperature:  78 – 80 °F for baby’s and juveniles and 72 – 76 °F for sub-adults and adults.

Note: UVB bulbs must be present throughout the entire life of your turtle and must be replaced every 6-7 months. Failure to do so, will result in metabolic bone disease (MBD).

Feeding & Diet

Hatchlings and juveniles are mainly carnivorous, and become more omnivorous as they reach adulthood.

Baby and Juvenile Diet

At this stage, your red-eared slider will most likely only eat meaty foods (insects) along with the usual turtle commercial food diet.

Insects may consist of silkworms, crickets, phoenix worms, mealworms, bloodworms, and etc…

Sub-adult and Adult Diet

At this stage, your red-eared slider will start to eat plant matter along with the usual turtle commercial food diet. Yes, feeding insects is still recommended.  Plant matter may consist of collard greens, kale, mashed or shredded carrots, mustard greens, dandelion, sweet potatoes, and etc…


How much to feed your red-eared slider depends all on the size and age of your red-eared slider. The recommendation is to feed baby’s and juveniles daily, while you feed sub-adults and adults every other day. You should only feed what your turtle will eat in 15 minutes. If you feed in a separate container, it will be easier to check how much your turtle is really eating. Make sure to feed a variety of foods, not just one of his favorite foods. Variety is key in raising a healthy reptile.


Their feedings must be dusted as follows:

  • Calcium without D3 – every other feeding
  • Calcium with D3 – 2-3 times a month
  • Multivitamins – 2-3 times a month

When it’s all set and done (adult turtle), the feedings should be….

25% or less: Meaty food (insects)

25% or less: Commercial turtle food diet

50% or more: Plant matter (vegetation)


Red eared sliders will do well with large river stone rocks as substrate. Any other substrate like sand or gravel will just lead to problems like impaction. Most red-eared sliders will try to eat substrate if it can fit in their mouth.


Note: The information on this red eared slider care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care.

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