9 Things you Should Know About Red-Eared Slider Turtles
Ever wondered about keeping red-eared slider turtles in your home as a pet? Find out 9 things you should consider before getting it.
Ever wondered about keeping red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) in your home as a pet?
Well, you must know some interesting things about them to get extra fun and get rid of cruelty. They are a subspecies of pond slider, also known as red-eared turtles, water slider turtles, or red-eared terrapin.
Their ability to slide rapidly off rocks is the main reason for calling them sliders. They possess a red mark behind the ear in adults (it is not visible in the older turtle). Because of this combination, they are called red-ear slider turtles.
What are the Key Characteristics of Red-Eared Slider Turtles That Make It Special?
Here are the characteristics of red-eared water slider turtle:
- It is a semi-aquatic, invasive turtle that never hibernates.
- Presence of red stripes around the ear.
- Quick sliding off rocks.
- Male is shorter than female.
- The male shell is shorter than the female.
- Male forefoot claws are shorter than females.
- The length of carapaces typically ranges from 15 to 20 cm (maximum 40 cm).
- Lifespan: typical 20 to 30 years (maximum 40 years).
- Unable to regulate body temperature.
- The legs, neck, and head are greenish with a yellow stripe.
- Their carapaces are looking upside down. On the flip side, the painted turtle has flatter carapaces.
- With the increase of age, their color undergoes changes from yellow to dark.
- They have a complete skeletal system.
- They live in slow water and eat small plants, fishes, etc.
9 Interesting Things to Know About Red-Eared Slider Turtles
1. The Sex of Red-Eared Slider Is Determined by Temperature
Male reach sexual maturity when their shell measures 10 cm, whereas females reach sexual maturity when their shell measures 15 cm. The male shell is shorter than the female.
Red-eared slider male and female mating take place under the water during their breeding season. This breeding season lasts from late spring to early summer. After mating, the female slider makes their nest with their hind legs near about 200 meters of water.
The slider makes a nest in sandy soil to ensure the abundance of sunshine. Their nest is no more than 10 to 12 centimeters deep. Then the female lays 2 to 30 soft-shelled and oval-shaped eggs in it. The female slider lays eggs in a clutch.
Around 20% of egg-laying drops after the first mating of females. Both the male and female look after and camouflage the eggs when the predator animals come toward them.
Luckily, only 1% of eggs hatch. The predator animals such as snakes, raccoons, birds, and other animals ate the rest of the eggs.
These eggs undergo a fertilization process during laying eggs. The eggs incubation period is nearly 2 to 4 months.
During the incubation period, the temperature determines the sex of the offspring. The egg incubated at 22 to 27-degree Celsius temperature becomes male. Whereas, the more incubation temperature (31 to 34-degree Celsius) determines the female. The newly hatched slider looks like adult ones. How astonishing is it!
2. Red-Eared Slider Communicates Through Touch and Vibration
Sliders are less active during the winter season. When the temperature is 10 degree Celsius, they become active and go to the bottom of the water. They start their courtship underwater by flutter and vibration.
The male starts moving around the female and the female vibrates the backside of the male with her long claws. So, the male starts releasing pheromones to her. There are two interesting facts -
- If the female is receptive, it sinks to the bottom of the male and mating occurs. The mating takes only 10 minutes where the courtship takes 45 minutes.
- However, if the female is not receptive, she will become aggressive to him.
3. Red-Eared Terrapin Is Friendly Though Invasive
The red-eared water slider turtle is friendly with turtles and human beings. They are grateful to their owner. So, when you feed them, they will show their intelligence by greeting you. They sometimes eat out your palm with their hands.
They are usually friendly with the people, but aggressive when they are handled roughly. The bite of the red-eared turtle is painful. However, they are non-venomous. It can be damaging to children with small fingers. So, try to handle them properly.
Their living cage should not have any sharp edge, so the even temperament of it will remain cool. According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), they are listed under the 100 invasive animals.
4. No Red-Eared Water Slider in Antarctica
Due to the cold weather of Antarctica, red-ear sliders are not the inhabitants in this area. Because they are cold-blooded turtles (poikilotherms). They can’t regulate inner body temperature on their own. So, they need to sunbathe.
The average temperature of Antarctica is minus 10 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, they can’t hibernate, so there are no slider turtles in Antarctica.
However, they are available in Asia and Australia. They live in the Puget Sound area. When the temperature has fallen, they undergo brumation at the bottom of the pond or lakes. But during the warmer winter, they come to the banks of the sea or lake and sunbathe.
Besides, they can make their habitat on the rocks. When the temperature falls, they quickly slide off and log into the water.
5. They Don’t Have Teeth
How amazing it sounds to be when your pet has no teeth. Yes, red-ear water terrapins have no teeth. So, we might say, they can’t bite. But we have mentioned above, they can be damaging when handled roughly.
However, instead of having teeth, the sliders have a horny ridge with a sharp groove on the upper and lower jaw.
They eat small plants and animals like tadpole, crayfish, fish, snails, worms, and insects. They occasionally come to the surface of the water for food or air.
The taste of food changes in terms of age. The adult red-sliders are herbivorous whereas the young one is omnivorous. The sliders are also a great fan of small birds for eating.
When the temperature has fallen below 10 degrees Celsius, they remain in sopor condition. This time they do not eat and defecate.
6. They Need Minimal Care and Live as Long as You
It is easy to maintain the sliders as an owner. You just need to provide the optimum environment for them. Like -
- You should keep them in slow water.
- The water temperature should not be less than 10 degrees Celsius.
- You should give them the scope of taking a sunbath.
Sunbath is important. Because sunlight induces vitamin D production which is necessary for the skeletal system and digestive system. So, to keep your turtle pet healthy, you should provide those facilities.
It is pretty common in the USA and Asia as a pet. In captive conditions, the lifespan is around 50 to 70 years. Whereas in the wild, the lifespan is around 40 years.
You can keep them in your home with minimal care and discipline. How interesting the fact is!
7. Water Slider Turtles Are the Carrier Host of Salmonella
We have mentioned above, turtles sunbathe to keep them free from various parasites. So, if they do not sunbathe, vice versa will happen.
In fact, in 1975, the 4-inch slider was banned for selling because of Salmonella. Finally, which turned into a zoonotic disease means human beings are also affected by Salmonella. But in turtles, it is somehow impossible to detect the symptoms.
So, after handling a small turtle in your home or zoo, wash your hands and keep the water clean as much as you can. We recommend you check them with a veterinarian. If they show a positive result, you should treat them.
8. They Are Deaf but Good Observers
Hope you guess that is why am I saying they are deaf? Well, they have a poor sound hearing. Because of poor hearing, they communicate through vibration and touch. The vibration process necessary for courtship and mating.
However, they are excellent observers. As a result, they can camouflage themselves when a predator attacks them. Besides, they sunbathe by observing the environment temperature.
They try to live in a group. Even they bask under the sun in a group. So, they can observe the attacking movement of snakes, raccoons, etc. and save each other.
So, we can say, they are good observers but terrible listeners. Huh, so interesting, isn’t it?
9. Their Diseases Are Easy to Detect
Apart from Salmonella attacks on child turtles, they face other diseases in their life. Due to lack of sunshine, they suffer from metabolic bone disease. The bone can’t absorb calcium because of vitamin D deficiency. The symptoms include softshell, bone fracture, and twitching. Besides, swelling on the head and mouth is also a sign of metabolic disease.
The respiratory disease symptoms include mucous on the nostril, wheezing sounds on the nostril, open-mouth breathing. The swelling eyes are also a sign of illness.
So, to get rid of these situations, try to give them enough scope for sunshine and observe their behavior by picking from the water. Also, maintain the water hygiene level optimum. Take the consultation from the vet and do medication every year. Well, it doesn’t require vaccination.
Who are Red Sliders “right” for?
Now, it is prime time to think about whether you are the right person to choose a red slider turtle as a pet. Like most reptiles, they don’t require too much effort and attention, but they need minimal maintenance. Their housing and environment should be optimum for their living. They don’t need to be fed too often.
Finally, the biggest interesting and business fact of red-ear slider turtles is - they are the most traded turtle on the planet. Why? Because they are small in size, shape, price, food price, and low maintenance cost. You can give it a try.