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What's a Red-Eared Slider Turtle?

Learn about the red-eared slider turtle from veterinarian Alix Wilson in this Howcast video.


So redeared sliders are an aquatic turtle. They're native to the Southeast of the U. S. We find them very commonly in the pet trade. And this has a few downsides. One is that people don't realize when these redeared sliders are purchased, when they're small, they can actually grow to be this size. So the housing requirements for the turtle changes quite lot over its lifetime. So what may have started out as a cute little quarter-sized turtle in a standard fish tank will, all of a sudden, require some type of larger pond set up when it gets to this adult size.

So in this species the females do get larger than the males and this is a female. You can also tell it's a female because the claws on its front feet are short, and on the males they'd probably be at least ten times this length.

Redeared sliders need a basking area in their enclosure. They need to come out, dry off, and heat themselves up. They need a basking area of upwards of 90 degrees. They usually also require a water heater to keep the water temperature between 75 and 80 degrees.

Never release a redeared slider into the wild. It's illegal and what we're finding is that a lot of these turtles because they are so hardy they are starting to take over parts of the country where they were not meant to be and pushing out the native species.

So, for instance, here in New York if you go to certain neighborhoods you're able to buy the hatchlings illegally. So again, you never want to purchase a turtle under four inches of shell size due to salmonella risk. You won't get in trouble as the buyer, but the seller is doing something illegal.

So a lot of people don't realize when they see those cute little turtles that they're going to get so big and require so much care. It is a misconception that turtles are easy to take care of. They require a specialized setup and specialized diet. So here in New York when you go to some of our parks, you'll actually see these redeared sliders in the ponds there, and they're actually not native to New York State. So this is a problem. They introduced disease into our native turtle population as well as pushing out and competing with the native species.

This is also becoming a problem in other countries where these guys have been imported for the pet trade. So again, never impulse purchase a turtle, do your homework first, and be sure you can provide the many, many years, decades of care that these animals will need.

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