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Red Eared Slider The Exotic Pet

red-eared slider

red-eared slider

What I love most of the red-eared sliders (RES) are their beautiful color and different stripes of each RES. Their scientific's name is Chrysemys scripta elegans (or formerly Trachemys scripta elegans).

Its origin is from United States (Mississippi, eastern New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, etc) and now have been found in many places around the globe and become a common pet found in a household (They were taken by people who bought them as pets throughout the world). But I don't understand why the RES is known as Brazilian turtle in my country/Indonesia?

Physical Description

This beautiful RES gets its name from the broad reddish stripe behind its eyes. Dark green with yellow stripes, this RES can be easily distinguished by its lower jaw which is more rounded than the other turtles.

The top shell is called carapace and is nicely rounded. It has a black and yellow line pattern.
The bottom shell is called plastron with yellow color and unique pattern

Description of red-eared sliders

Description of red-eared sliders

How to determine RES sex

Female RES is physically larger than males. But we can not decide their sex until they reach the maturity. About 2-4 years for males and 3-5 years for females.
While Male RES has longer claws and tail. With the cloaca closer to the tip of the tail.
The cloaca is for intestinal, urinary and reproduction and it's on the underside of the tail

Male and Female RES

Male and Female RES

Red-eared slider tank

Red-eared slider tank

Healthy Habitat

RES need a healthy habitat that represent their natural environment. Many of RES hobbies in my country do not realize that RES need a lot of water, much more water, so most of us put them in a tiny glass aquarium. It happened with my dormitory's friend. She placed her RES in a tiny round glass aquarium in her room.
I did not realize either at that time, I think it's cute. But now, I know it's torturing.

Red-eared sliders need a warm, enough water for swimming and a dry area to bask.

Glass-standard aquarium is a solution if you don't want to build outdoor pool for the turtles. In a tropical country like mine, we used  to provide an outdoor pool for turtles or koi fish without fear of cold. But we have to keep it save from other animals like cats.

One good aspect if you choose a glass aquarium is that you can clean it thoroughly. The aquarium should be completely clean from bacteria for the RES health.
The aquarium lid should allow the entry of natural light with its full spectrum. Most water turtle keepers using light spectrum above the aquarium.

The size of the aquarium is depend on the turtle's size. The bigger the better. 10 gallons of water per inch of shell length. So, for single adult red-eared slider we need a 90 to 120 gallon aquarium size.

We have to maintain the water quality with water filter. If you have a good quality of water filter, you don't need a frequent cleaning.

Red-eared slider sources

The Temperature

The easiest way to keep the temperature to remain stable is to use submersible heater. It looks like long tube containing coated wires. This type of heater is very practical because it has a thermostat that you can set it in a perfect temperature.

Keep the temperature between 20 to 28 degrees C. This is very important because warmer temperature will raise RES immune system.

We need to provide areas within our tank where the turtles can actually enjoy dry basking under the sun or a special reptile-lamp. RES absolutely need UV light in order to process food properly and to absorb nutrients from food.

Make sure the decoration within the tank will not bring dangerous to our RES. If you want to add plants, choose non toxic plant. Plastic plants are also not recommended.
If you add rocks, make sure the stones don't have sharp edges. It can hurt the turtle's shell. Avoid small stones because our turtles may eat them and could cause some serious problems.

Turtle pellets

The Food Habit

Young sliders tent to be more carnivorous than adults. Eating about 70% animal matter and 30% plant matter. But we need to combine their food among, plants, commercially made pellet, and plants.
Adults eat 90% plant matter and 10% animal matter.
Food include : vegetables and fruits like lettuce, tomatoes, papaya or banana. Pellets, and small animals like crickets (it's popular in my country), snails, fish, crawfish, mollusks, and crustaceans.

Turtles love red-meat very much, but this food will make our turtles become obesity, so reduce the quantity of red-meat.
I think we should also avoid raw chicken because of the salmonella. Cuttlefish bone is also a great calcium source for turtles.

If the turtles refuse to one type of food, try to give them other foods. As long as they still eating something then there is nothing to worry about. But if the turtles refuse any kind of food we provide, he may be sick.

When you should suspect a disease?

  • If their eyes are swollen and the turtles always close their eyes.
  • They refuse to eat
  • Changes in behavior
  • Abnormal in breathing or cold
  • Changes in color or there are white spots on the carapace
  • Diarrhea

Do not hesitate to visit the vet if your turtles are sick.


Male RES makes a maneuvers in front of the females and if the females receptive, she will sink to the bottom for mating. If not, she may become aggressive towards the male.

If female RES are not mating, they will have infertile eggs that will never hatch.

The female has to find an appropriate nesting spot or else the eggs will harden and can not pass through her cloaca and it's called as egg binding, and it's very fatal. We can help those turtles with hormone injection or vet surgery.

Turtle Egg Bound

Hypo/pastel yellow bellied RES

Hypo/pastel yellow bellied RES

Below are unique and rare red-eared sliders :

1. Albino Red Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
Albino RES is one of the most striking of all the red-eared sliders. One in a million and most of them can not survive in the wild.

2. Ghost Red Eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans)
Ghost RES have a rare color phase than other RES. They are lacking most of the normal pigments in the skin and shell.
Only a dozen for every each year. The price is quite expensive, about $ 250 to $ 395

3. Hypo/Pastel Yellow Bellied Sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta)
This type of RES are expensive, sell it at $695.95.
With beautiful, unique, and rare patterns, those Hypo yellow bellies RES are like snowflakes, with no two exactly the same. Just amazing and gorgeous.

4. Two Headed Red Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
They can find food independently and have a perfect carapace. They're even able to cooperate between each other head to find foods or avoid the predators. Just lovely creatures. And they could insert their heads inside the carapace. So cute.

Guide for Red-eared slider

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Loyal Veigas on April 03, 2018:

My 10 yr old turtle Hasn't eaten in 5 months. Can anyone suggest anything. I stay in Dubai and it was winter since Dec and slowly the climate is nw changing to be warmer. It's the first time in 10 yrs he has done this. Any help would be great. Thanks

toshi on August 08, 2014:

Hi you know i love red eared sliders and bye!!!!!

toshi on August 08, 2014:

for the albino red eared slider it was cute!

Mark W. Azeltine on January 23, 2012:

You mention in this article a Hypo/Pastel yellow bellied "RES." However, this is not true. It is simply a yellow bellied slider. Whilst RES and yellow bellied sliders belong to the same genus and species, they are two different subspecies (Trachemys scripta elegans for RES, trachemys scripta scripta for yellow bellied sliders).

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on April 03, 2011:

This was beautiful animal. I love this turtle. Thanks for writing this. I am glad to have this one. Rated up! Have a great day!


Hello, hello, from London, UK on March 30, 2011:

Thank you for these detailed information. Great hub.

Bima.Purnawan1 from Republic of Indonesia on March 29, 2011:

These animals are very cute.... Thank you.

agusfanani from Indonesia on March 28, 2011:

I love animals, specially the cute one like this. Thank you for sharing this interesting hub.

febriedethan (author) from Indonesia on March 28, 2011:

Dear DeBorrah, you're welcome. I love RES when I saw them in my uncle's tank, fascinating with their patterns. Our Lord is amazing, their patterns are never been the same. Fabulous creatures. Have a great day Ma'am!

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on March 28, 2011:

Febriedethan, This was very educational and informative! I am not very familiar with the various varieties of exotic turtles! Thank you for sharing, In His Love, Peace & Blessings!

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