Caring For A Red-Eared Slider Turtle

International Turtle and Tortoise Week starts April 17th. Turtles aren’t the most popular pet, but they are very cute and lovable, and are a great match for some folks. One of the turtles most often sold as a pet is the red-eared slider. These pretty animals are cute, gentle, and fairly easy to care for. A Lexington, KY veterinarian offers some turtle-care tips below.


Baby turtles need animal protein, while adults should mostly eat produce, as otherwise they can become obese. Your shelled pet can have commercial turtle food, supplemented with things like leafy greens; carrots; earthworms; insects; and cooked chicken. For treats, you can offer small amounts of fruit. Ask your vet for specific advice.


Keeping your turtle’s habitat clean is very important! You’ll need to remove waste and uneaten food daily, and follow up with more thorough cleanings.


Your slow-moving pal will eventually need at least a 40-gallon enclosure. Pick one with a screened lid, so your pet can’t escape. Your turtle’s home should contain a dry area, which can include things like rocks, logs, bricks, and a basking area. You can put slate, rock, or gravel on the bottom. Your turtle will also need a ‘pool’, which should be angled so he can get out easily. Your pet’s habitat will need different temperature zones, which will require careful monitoring. You’ll also need some lighting, as turtles will need about 12 hours of UV lighting daily. Ask your vet for more information.


Like any other animal, turtles are susceptible to illness and injury. Watch for red flags, such as lethargy; changes in the color, odor, texture, or amount of waste; sneezing; discharge from the eyes, ears, nose, or mouth; discoloration; swimming frantically or awkwardly; swelling; and lumps, bumps, or lesions. Call us immediately if you see any of these warning signs.


Turtles can carry salmonella. You’ll need to wash your hands thoroughly both before and after handling your pet or its belongings. This is also something to consider if your household includes pregnant women, young children, seniors, or those with weak immune systems.


Red-sliders are invasive in many places. If you end up changing your mind, do not release your turtle into the wild, as it could outperform threatened native species.

Do you have questions about turtle care? Contact us, your Lexington, KY animal clinic, today.

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