Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
From The Aquarium Wiki
Trachemys scripta elegans
7.0 - 8.0
- Red-Eared Slider
- The Red Ear Slider is a native of the southern US, but has become common in various areas of the world due to the pet trade. They are very popular pets in the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, and United Kingdom. However, there are legal implications of keeping/selling these terrapins in certain countries, including some states in the US where it is often illegal to sell any terrapin under 4" long.
- Females are larger and have a smaller tail than males. Males have longer, thicker tails and longer front claws with the cloaca closer to the tip of the tail. It is very hard to tell the sex of a red ear slider until around the age of four when they have matured.
- Terrapins should be kept in a terrapin-only tank or pond. They will predate on any fish or inverts in with them.
- Red-eared Sliders are omnivores and eat a variety of animal and plant materials in the wild including, but not limited to fish, crawfish, carrion, tadpoles, snails, aquatic insects and numerous aquatic plant species. The captive diet for pet Red-eared Sliders should closely match the natural diet and can also include other foods such as feeder fish, dead, thawed fuzzy mice, earthworms, cooked egg with the crumbled shell included and leafy greens. Commercial turtle foods should be used sparingly due to insufficient scientific research and vitamin and mineral imbalances. Calcium (for shell health) can be supplemented by adding pieces of cuttlebone to the diet. Younger turtles tend to be more carnivorous (eat more animal protein) than adults do. As they grow larger and older, they become increasingly herbivorous. Live foods are particularly enjoyed and add to the quality of life of captive turtles. Providing a wide variety of foods is the key to success with captive Red-eared Sliders.
- In order to ensure a happy and healthy turtle, it should be fed one time per day. The general rule of thumb in terms of pellet feedings is a direct ratio of pellets to the size of the turtle's head, not including the neck. When feeding other materials to the turtle, use pellets sparingly because overfeeding may cause disease, injury, drowning and/or death.
- The Red-eared Slider is native to the area around the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico. It thrives in warmer climates, particularly the Southeast quadrant of the United States. Such an area would be east of and below Colorado to Virginia down to Florida, naturally residing in areas with calm, fresh, warm water. This includes ponds, lakes, marshes, creeks, and streams.
- In captivity it is often underestimated how large these terrapins can get. In the long-term they will need a pond (an indoor one if you live in a temperate or non-native country) to thrive.
- It prefers quiet areas with a basking area, such a large flat rock or a floating log, in full sunlight. It is common for RES to bask together and even on top of each other. There is also abundant vegetation, which is the main component of an adult slider's diet. Wild individuals will stay close to a water source unless they are in search of a new one. A female Red-eared Slider will also leave the water to lay eggs.
- It is also imperative that you pay close attention to how your slider behaves. He or she may be timid or aggressive. Each slider has a different personality and some may be very skiddish, bite, hiss or deficate if they are uncomfortable with a situation. Situations may include the introduction of another slider into the current slider's habitat- some can be extremely anti-social, or changes within their tank- such as the introduction of a new plant or aquarium item.
- The term for hibernation in reptiles is brumation. Brumation can occur in varying degrees. RES brumate over the winter at the bottom of ponds or shallow lakes. They become inactive, generally, in October, when temperatures fall below 50°F (10°C). Individuals usually brumate underwater. They have also been found under banks and hollow stumps and rocks. Their brumation does not go uninterrupted. In warmer winter climates they can become active and come to the surface for basking. When the temperature begins to drop again, however, they will quickly return to a brumation state. Sliders will generally come up for food in early March to as late as the end of April.
- It is essential to ensure that you never allow your pet slider's habitat to fall below seventy-eight degrees as this will make your slider fall into brumation. It is not recommended that domestic slider's hibernate at all.
- Courtship and mating activities for Red-eared Sliders usually occur between March and July, and take place underwater. The male swims toward the female and flutters or vibrates the back side of his long claws on and around her face and head. The female will swim toward the male and, if she is receptive, will sink to the bottom for mating. If the female is not receptive, she may become aggressive towards the male. The courtship can take up to forty-five minutes, but the mating itself usually takes only ten to fifteen minutes.
- Sometimes a male will appear to be courting another male. This is actually a sign of dominance and the males may begin to fight. Juveniles may display the courtship dance, but until the turtles are five years of age they are not mature and unable to mate.
- After mating, the female will spend extra time basking in order to keep her eggs warm. She may also have a change of diet, eating only certain foods or not eating as much as she normally would. Ovulation begins in May and egg-laying occurs in May through early July. A female might lay from two to thirty eggs, with larger females have the largest clutches. One female can lay up to five clutches in the same year and clutches are usually spaced twelve to thirty-six days apart.
- Eggs will hatch sixty to ninety days after they have been laid. Late season hatchlings may spend the winter in the nest and emerge when the weather warms in the spring. New hatchlings will cut open their egg with an egg tooth, which falls out about an hour after hatching. This tooth never grows back. Hatchlings may stay inside their eggshells after hatching for the first day or two. When a hatchling decides to leave the shell, it will have a small sac protruding from its bottom plastron. Just prior to hatching the egg contains 50% Turtle and 50% egg sac. The yolk sac is vital and provides nourishment while visible and several days after it has been absorbed into the Turtles belly. Damage or motion enough to allow air into the Turtles body results in death. This is the main reason for marking the top of Turtle eggs if their relocation for any reason is required. An egg that has been rotated upside down will eventually terminate the embryo growth by the sac smothering the embryo. If it manages to reach term, the Turtle will try to flip over with the yolk sac which will no doubt allow air into the body cavity and death follows as noted. The other killer is water into the body cavity before the sac is absorbed completely and the opening has almost completely healed. I find 21 days from egg opening until water entry. The sac will never fall off by itself, it must be absorbed. The split may be noticeable in the hatchling's plastron on Turtles found in the field indicating the age of the Turtle to be about 3 weeks old. As noted the split must heal on its own before allowing the Turtle to swim. This does not preclude the need for moisture throughout the first 3 weeks of life out of the egg. I place my Hatchlings on moist paper towels. As a matter of fact the eggs are on these towels from the day they are laid (I dig them up an hour after laying)and covered with toweling until they hatch and can swim. The Turtle can also suck the water it needs from the toweling. Red Ear Slider eggs matriculate in South Florida in 91 days while in New York City the egg takes 102 days. Turtles relocated exhibited this effect with constancy. The Turtle egg is fertilized as it is being layed and buried in the sand. The time between mating and egg laying can be days or weeks. This concept also supports the fact that a Turtle mating can provide for viable eggs two seasons in a row.
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