Animal Information

The Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)

The red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), also known as the red-eared terrapin, is a semiaquatic turtle belonging to the family Emydidae.

The Red Ear Slider is known for having a red stripe on its head.

This turtle grows 5 to 11 inches long. Because of its size and personality, this has been one of the most popular reptiles when it comes to the pet and food trade.

The practice of keeping these turtles has continued since the 1930s, reaching a peak during


Housing Red-Ear Sliders

The general rule of thumb for housing red-eared sliders is for every inch of shell length, you should provide 10 gallons of water. For example, a red-eared slider with a 5-inch shell length should be provided an enclosure containing 50 gallons of water to allow for adequate swimming space.

Creative turtle owners use all sorts of novel housing ideas to meet the roomy requirements of their red-eared sliders using things like pre-formed plastic pond liners to make homes more like indoor ponds.


Red-Ear Sliders can hide their body in the shell for protection

And, if you have an outdoor pond, and a securely fenced yard to keep your turtle in and predators out, you might consider putting your turtle outdoors for at least part of the year. 

To ensure proper health and growth of red-eared sliders, a basking light that provides UVB and UVA rays, to mimic the sun, is required.

Purchase either a commercial turtle basking dock or create your own basking platform onto which your turtle can emerge from the water to soak up the artificial sunlight and dry off.

This subspecies of the pond slider requires temperatures in the basking area to remain between 85 and 90 degrees.

Red-eared sliders can live for more than 20 years!

Feeding Red-Ear Sliders

Red-eared sliders are omnivores. In the wild, they feed on aquatic vegetation, small fish and decaying material such as dead fish and frogs, etc. Pet red-eared sliders will feed on just about anything you give them.

We recommend feeding them a commercial turtle food or pellet to benefit proper growth and health.  We feed Mazuri Brand Products. On occasion, you can offer them leafy greens, freeze-dried shrimp or krill, crickets, super worms, rosy red minnows, and even pinky mice.

It is illegal to sell these turtles if they are under four inches in length.

It has been known for years that reptiles such as turtles (as well as many other animals like hedgehogs) can carry Salmonella and other bacteria.

This shouldn’t necessarily stop you from getting a turtle, but you should be aware of the risks and take proper hygiene measures to prevent infections. Incidentally, the sale of turtles less than four inches long is prohibited in the United States due to the risk of Salmonella infections from children placing small turtles in their mouths.

Sexing Red-Ear Sliders

The male’s plastron is slightly concave, while that of the female is completely flat. The male’s concave plastron also helps to stabilize the male on the female’s carapace during mating. Older males can sometimes have a dark greyish-olive green melanistic coloration, with very subdued markings.

We have four Red-Ear sliders at Crazy Critters Inc. By law, we must destroy all eggs. Even though we have all females, it is important to make sure we are not propagating this invasive species.

Females lay 2-23 eggs per clutch in a cavity dug out of the soil, and as many as five clutches may be oviposited per year. We use the eggs as a food source for other species of animals.

It Is An Actual INVASIVE Species!…

This reptile has become one of the most commonly traded turtles in the world. Its native range is from New Mexico north to Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and West Virginia, then south through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia, all the way to northern Mexico.,

 Despite the vast worldwide occurrence of T. scripta, particularly T. s. elegans, little is known of it impact on indigenous ecosystems.  In some countries, Red-eared Sliders compete with indigenous species for food and basking sites.  In the U.S. state of Washington, they are a potential threat to Clemmys marmorata, the Pacific pond turtle.

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The European Union has banned the import of T. s. elegans because of the negative impact that released pets can have on native European pond turtles

This turtle has become established in other places because of pet releases and has become an invasive species in many areas, where it outcompetes native species. The red-eared slider is included in the list of the world’s 100 most invasive species published by the IUCN.

As recently as 2001, a Dutch animal welfare group attempted to ship unwanted pet T. s. elegans to Italy for eventual nonindigenous release into the wild.

Red-eared sliders are listed as a conditional species in Florida. Anyone that possessed a pet red-eared slider before July 1, 2007, can legally keep their turtle and no permit is required. However, Floridians are not allowed to acquire red-eared sliders as personal pets after that date.

Anyone importing or possessing red-eared sliders for research, exhibition, or out of state sale is required to have a Conditional/Prohibited/Nonnatve Species Permit. Crazy Critters has this conditional species listed on their Class III Permit.

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Click here to read more about the Class III Personal Use Permit

Other than checking out your state laws before you bring home a red-eared slider there are a few things to check out to increase the odds that you are bringing home a healthy turtle

Look at their eyes, shell, how they swim, and whether or not they seem very active. There are some key indicators to help you determine whether or not a red eared slider is healthy.

States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. .

State Year of earliest observation Year of last observation Total HUCs with observations† HUCs with observations†
Arizona 1962 1997 2 Lower Gila-Painted Rock Reservoir; Lower Salt
California 1976 2017 19 California; Central Coastal; Coyote; Lower Sacramento; Mattole; Middle Kern-Upper Tehachapi-Grapevine; Russian; Salton Sea; San Diego; San Francisco Coastal South; San Gabriel; San Pablo Bay; Santa Monica Bay; South Fork Kern; Suisun Bay; Tomales-Drake Bays; Upper Cache; Upper Deer-Upper White; Upper Mokelumne
Connecticut 1980 2011 3 New England Region; Saugatuck; Thames
Florida 1958 2018 21 Big Cypress Swamp; Caloosahatchee; Carolinian; Crystal-Pithlachascotee; Daytona-St. Augustine; Econfina-Steinhatchee; Everglades; Florida Bay-Florida Keys; Florida Southeast Coast; Kissimmee; Lower St. Johns; Lower Suwannee; Oklawaha; Pensacola Bay; Santa Fe; South Atlantic-Gulf Region; Southern Florida; St. Marys; Tampa Bay; Upper St. Johns; Withlacoochee
Georgia 2014 2014 1 Upper Oconee
Guam 2004 2007 1 Guam
Hawaii 1996 2006 3 Hawaii; Kauai; Oahu
Idaho 2012 2016 3 Lower Boise; Palouse; Upper Snake-Rock
Indiana 2001 2018 3 Driftwood; Tippecanoe; Wildcat
Iowa 1978 2013 3 East Nishnabotna; Lower Cedar; Lower Wapsipinicon
Kansas 2013 2013 1 Coon-Pickerel
Maine 1987 1987 2 Lower Kennebec; Presumpscot
Maryland 1991 1998 1 Patuxent
Massachusetts 1975 1993 5 Cape Cod; Charles; Concord; Lower Connecticut; Middle Connecticut
Michigan 1924 1999 4 Detroit; Pere Marquette-White; Raisin; Upper Grand
Minnesota 2014 2014 7 Des Moines Headwaters; Le Sueur; South Fork Crow; Twin Cities; Upper Mississippi-Black-Root; Watonwan; Zumbro
Nebraska 1983 2015 6 Big Papillion-Mosquito; Blackbird-Soldier; Salt; South Fork Big Nemaha; Tarkio-Wolf; Upper Big Blue
Nevada 2016 2016 1 Las Vegas Wash
New Jersey 1976 2018 7 Crosswicks-Neshaminy; Hackensack-Passaic; Lower Delaware; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong; Mullica-Toms; Raritan; Sandy Hook-Staten Island
New Mexico 1994 2000 3 Elephant Butte Reservoir; Rio Grande-Albuquerque; Tularosa Valley
New York 1995 2016 8 Buffalo-Eighteenmile; Hackensack-Passaic; Hudson-Wappinger; Lower Genesee; Lower Hudson; Northern Long Island; Rondout; Southern Long Island
North Carolina 1980 2015 4 Haw; Upper Catawba; Upper Dan; Upper Neuse
Ohio 1951 1999 *
Oregon 1991 2008 6 Lost; Lower Willamette; Middle Rogue; Pacific Northwest Region; South Umpqua; Upper Willamette
Pennsylvania 1996 2018 10 Brandywine-Christina; Crosswicks-Neshaminy; Lehigh; Lower Delaware; Lower Juniata; Lower Susquehanna; Lower Susquehanna-Swatara; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong; Schuylkill; Upper Ohio
Puerto Rico 2007 2007 4 Cibuco-Guajataca; Eastern Puerto Rico; Greater Antilles; Puerto Rican Islands
Rhode Island 2014 2014 1 Narragansett
South Carolina 1995 1995 1 Seneca
Texas 2000 2001 3 Pedernales; Rio Grande-Fort Quitman; Salt Basin
Virginia 1980 2017 5 Hampton Roads; Lynnhaven-Poquoson; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; Pamunkey; Upper Dan
Washington 1995 2013 5 Lake Washington; Lower Columbia-Sandy; Lower Crab; Puget Sound; Snohomish
Wisconsin 2005 2015 4 Coon-Yellow; Des Plaines; Lower Wisconsin; Middle Rock

Table last updated 10/4/2018

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

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Everyone in our community benefits when donors put their funds together to help protect animals and our environment. And the fact that the animals can call this a forever home makes it that much better. Your monetary donations help provide veterinary care, food, and supplies to the animals in our care.

In keeping with our commitment to a quality life for the animals here at the sanctuary, we provide a diet created specifically for each animal’s needs, the best veterinary care, enrichment programs for the animals, and maintain their spacious, safe habitats.

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OR You Can Name A Turtle!

Honor a friend, relative or even a pet and become a group sponsor! An awesome $25 donation to Crazy Critters Inc. and we will forever remember your commitment. We will contact you via email. We have one male and three females that need names!

REMEMBER: All donations are tax-deductible!

Female Red-Ear Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
Female Red-Ear Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
Female Red-Ear Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
Female Red-Ear Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)


We Grow Crazy Plants To Care For Crazy Critters!

Crazy Critters Inc. is a Private Non-Profit, 501(c)3, Exotic Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. Our Wildlife Facility is located in Eustis, Florida. We provide permanent homes to over 200 animals including lizards, turtles, skinks, geckos, birds, and assorted wildlife. Crazy Critters Inc. was established to provide non-domestic, non-releasable animals with a safe and permanent home.

Mostly Tortoises and Turtles call Crazy Critters Inc. home. What makes us unique is that after adoption, Crazy Critters Inc. continues to share the lives of the pets on social media. Providing an additional continued connection. When an animal finds its way to Crazy Critters, it has found a forever home.

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