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Red Eared Slider The Exotic Pet

Updated on June 28, 2011
red-eared slider
red-eared slider | Source

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 | Source

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 | Source
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.

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.

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 | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Albino red-eared slider Ghost red-eared sliderTwo headed red-eared slider
Albino red-eared slider
Albino red-eared slider | Source
Ghost red-eared slider
Ghost red-eared slider | Source
Two headed red-eared slider
Two headed red-eared slider | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Siamese red-eared sliderShell less red-eared slider
Siamese red-eared slider
Siamese red-eared slider | Source
Shell less red-eared slider
Shell less red-eared slider | Source


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    • profile image

      Loyal Veigas 

      2 years ago

      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

    • profile image


      6 years ago

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

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      for the albino red eared slider it was cute!

    • profile image

      Mark W. Azeltine 

      8 years ago

      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 profile image


      9 years ago from malang-indonesia

      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, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for these detailed information. Great hub.

    • Bima.Purnawan1 profile image


      9 years ago from Republic of Indonesia

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

    • agusfanani profile image


      9 years ago from Indonesia

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

    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Indonesia

      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!

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 

      9 years ago

      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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