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Related FAQs: Turtles, Turtles 2, Sliders, Turtle Identification, Turtle Behavior, Turtle Compatibility, Turtle Selection, Turtle Systems, Turtle Systems 2, Turtle Feeding, Turtle Disease, Turtle Disease 2, Turtle Disease 3, Turtle Reproduction, & by Species: Musk/Mud Turtles, Other Sliders/Emydids (Pond, Painted...), Softshells, Snapping Turtles, Mata Matas, Tortoises, & FAQs on Red Ear Sliders: Sliders, Sliders 2, Red Eared Slider Identification, RES Behavior, RES Compatibility, RES Selection, RES Systems, RES Feeding, RES Disease, RES Disease/Health 2, RES Reproduction, & Other Reptiles, Amphibians

Related Articles: Red Eared Slider Care by Darrel Barton, So your turtle has the Flu? Recognising and treating respiratory infections in pet turtles by Neale Monks, Freshwater Livestock

Turtles: ID/Physical Attributes
(i.e., Species ID, Aging, Sexing)
Part 1

To: Part 2, Part 3

by Sue Garrett  






Red Eared Sliders

Painted Turtles


Yellow Bellied Sliders

Red Bellied Turtles

Chicken Turtles

Map Turtles

Side/Snake Neck Turtles

Yellow-Spotted Amazon

River Turtles





Mata Mata Turtles

Soft-shell Turtles

Pig-NosedRiver Turtles





Box Turtles

Bog Turtles

Wood Turtles







Unconfirmed Species



·         Refer to individual species links for specific physical attributes

·         In general:

§         Shell colors and patterns are typically more vivid in young turtles; often fade/dull as turtles age

§         Size is not a reliable indicator of age as many factors (diet, temperature, environment) can affect a turtles growth rate

§         Size, not age,  determines when turtles reach different stages of maturity, including sexual maturity

§         With few exceptions, females of almost all turtle species tend to be larger in size than males (and therefore typically reach sexual maturity later than males as both sexes grow at about the same rate)

§         As a rule, males tend to have longer claws, longer and thicker tails than females, and their cloaca (opening in tail) is farther away from the shell than females


Note:  Some of the above points are stated in context and elaborated on in the FAQs below.  Any key information relevant to this topic is highlighted in blue within each FAQ to make them easier to find.






 Trachemys scripta elegans


·     Carapace is dark olive green to brown/black with thin yellow or lighter colored stripes

·     Plastron is yellow with a dark mark on center of each scute

·     Head, legs and tails are olive green with fine yellow lines

·     A reddish stripe on each side of head (ear patch)

·     Adults grow to be approx. 8-12 in shell length

·     Females larger in size but males have longer claws, longer and thicker tails and their cloaca is farther from shell


Clarifying species name; determining sex  4/28/10

(Original heading:  I need help!!!! RES care, reading    4/28/10

I have two baby mud slider turtles. in my backyard
<Those are called Red Eared Sliders, Jessica. Mud turtles are completely different>
We have a huge pond full of turtles.
we found a baby turtle in our pool swimming around about a week ago.
<That happens to many of us from time to time. No matter how well we fence, block and separate some of those little guys manage to get out and all around the neighborhood. Our local pool service people routinely find hatchlings in various pools>
We decided to get a tank & everything to put it in.( the sex is still unknown) but today we found another baby turtle(both a little bigger than a quarter)and we decided to put it in the tank also. The first turtle was fine(swimming. eating, basking, etc.) but the other one is just basking & wont eat and nit seems to freak out when it goes swimming.
<Not uncommon>
it also ignores the other turtle(why?).
<My guess would be stress, Jessica. That turtle was probably outside a lot longer than the first one .. no proper heat, food, etc. and it may take him longer to become accustomed to his new home>
I would really like to know the gender of both turtles but surprisingly they don't show any aggression towards each other, rather even looks @ each other. the first one(Mr. t) tries to go up to the second one(Boo) but it either turns around or moves away from mr. t(just assuming he's a boy).
<You won't be able to tell their sex until they're at least 3 inches long. The male will start to grow more slowly and develop longer front claws, like fingernails) while the females will continue to grow faster and larger -- but that's at least 3-4 years in the future>
I am attaching pics of my tank so you can see what it looks like the one swimming is mr. t and the one on the floating dock is boo.
<The pictures aren't really focused well enough to see much>
Please help me because I really love my turtles and I don't want to have to let them go!!!!!!!
<Here's a link that will tell you everything you need to know -- just remember, turtles don't need much .. but they absolutely MUST HAVE what little they need>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
thanks so much!!!!!


Approximate age at 2 inches long?  1/26/10

(Original heading:  Re: Slider not eating pellets 1/26/10)

Hey crew,
<Hiya dear reader!>
Just an update on Edward. He just started eating his ReptoMin floating sticks today! But it was in the tank instead of a bowl. I was doing the bowl but he freaked out or just sat there. Since he's eating now, I'll put him in the bowl again.
<The bowl is mainly to help keep the water clean. Let's not freak Edward out right now. If he eats in his tank that's fine -- as long as he eats all you give him. One or two sticks at a time and then you scoop out what he doesn't eat>
Just out of curiosity how old is he when he's about 2 inches? I couldn't get a good measurement on him because he is sleeping at the moment.
<12 to 18 months maybe>
Oh yeah.. How long can I keep him out of water, let's say on the floor when the dog isn't around? I can't take him outside in my complex, there is no grass anywhere and there are cats running around. The one time I did take him out, he peed on me and almost pooped on me.
<As long as you are RIGHT THERE to watch him. I'm not kidding as long as you don't let him out of your immediate sight, he can be outside as long as you'd like to be there with him>
Thank you so much for the help!
<happy to help!>


Sexing a red eared slider  11/13/09

(Original heading:  Is my red eared slider's behavior normal?  11/13/09)

Hi. I have a couple of questions about my turtles. I have three red eared sliders. I am not exactly sure of how old they are, but I can tell you that I got two of them in August of 2008 and they were about 1.5-2 inches.
<Less than a year old at that point.>
Today the female is a little over 6 inches (I call her "Big Mama") while the male is a little less than 5 inches.
<See how fast they grow!>
I wanted to know if their growth rate is normal knowing that I've had them for just a little over a year and they were both the same size when I got them.
<Is indeed normal. Much better to view it as this: people *underestimate* how fast these animals grow when they buy them, assuming they stay small and cute.>
The third turtle was given to me in September/October of 2008 and she was smaller than my two turtles. I'd say she was no more than 1.5 inches. Today she's about 5.5-6 inches.
<Again, good growth rate.>
I currently have a Fluval 405 Canister Filter and have a 20 gallon tank (Yes I know, it's very small! I am going to be getting them a 100 gallon reptile tank very very soon.)
<Small tank, yes, but I'm impressed with your choice of a super-sized filter.>
I also have a dock, a basking lamp, and a water heater.
<All sounds wonderful. Does the lamp provide UV-B? That's a very useful, arguably essential, addition to any turtle habitat. Indeed, it's probably more useful than the water heater. There's a case to made for letting the turtles warm up on land and cool down in the water. That's what they'd do in the wild.>
I've been feeding them Zoo Med aquatic turtle food ever since I got them.
<I'd add some plant material to this. In fact, you can feed turtles very cheaply using all sorts of green foods you'd have left over from your own cooking. Green and red lettuce, endive, peas, melon among other things all work well.>
I have fed them live fish a couple of times, but, after reading some of your answers regarding that, I'm probably not going to anymore.
<Good. It's cruel, it's unnecessary, and it's risky.>
Anyways, about a month and a half ago, one of my turtles (the one that was given to me in October of 2008) started making (or at least that's when I started noticing) this wheezing/squeaking/chirping sound (especially at night). You can hear the wheezing for a couple of seconds and then it stops for a bit before starting again. I researched it and learned that there was a possibility of it being a respiratory infection.
<Yes: this is certainly a possibility. Turtles can sneeze for no particular reason, and if they're fat, they certainly do wheeze when moving about. But if this is happening a lot, then yes, an RI is definitely a possibility.>
Only problem is that, she doesn't have any other respiratory infection symptoms. She eats, is active, swims normally, doesn't have mucous, doesn't blow bubbles, doesn't keep her mouth open...
<All good things... but the safe approach would be to assume the worst, and have a vet take a quick look. Much better a vet catches an RI early on and cures it cheaply and easily. Best case, there's nothing wrong, and the vet doesn't have to do anything.>
I was wondering if there could be any other reasons for her making these noises with her nostrils, or is this still probably a Respiratory Tract Infection?
<Occasionally turtles sneeze. Males may wheeze a bit when mating or fighting. Fat turtles apparently do wheeze when moving about. But otherwise no, like most reptiles, turtles are essentially silent.>
My third question is that this same turtle that has the wheezing problem tends to act like a male. I'm pretty sure she's a female due to her short claws, short tail, and big size (or am I wrong?).
<Size is neither here nor there. But males do usually have much longer claws, though of course these can be abraded by rough rocks or might not even grow properly if the diet is limited somehow. The tail is the 100% reliable thing though. If the cloaca is nearer the shell than the tip of the tail, it's a female; if the cloaca is closer to the tip of the tail than the shell, it's a male.>
What she tends to do is compete with my male slider by wiggling her claws in front of my biggest female slider ("Big Mama").
<That's a very male behaviour.>
I know male sliders do this to show off and mate, but why would a female slider do that to another female slider?
<Likely just a hierarchical thing. These aren't social animals in the wild, so to a degree, keeping them in groups is bound to throw up some odd behaviours now and again.>
Thank you soo much for taking the time to read and answer my questions!
<Happy to do so. Good luck, Neale.>


Age Question   11/6/09
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I found a Red Eared Slider the day it hatched, still had the tooth. It was on its back in a hole and not moving. I thought it was dead. We were having a birthday party for kids and did not want the boys to terrorize the girls with a dead turtle. I picked it up and kept it hid in my hands until I could throw it in the bushes. After a few minutes it started moving. I am now the proud Mama of a Red Eared Slider!
She is 6 months old. She is now at 2-1/2 inches. Of course she is the most beautiful Slider in the whole world.
<Proud mama!>
My question is at what point is a hatchling not considered a hatchling?
<They're really easy about that. Around 6 to 10 months we call them babies, then juveniles until adulthood>
Everything I have read says to keep her water 80f or higher for a hatchling. Then when I visit your site I get confused.
<We're hoping to avoid confusion, please tell us how to improve>
She does not bask as much as she should.
<Of course not. If the water is already 80 degrees, why haul out to warm up? The water should be room temperature. Unless you live in an Igloo, Sliders do fine in any temp you'll do fine in. The idea is to offer her a choice - cool water or warm rock?>
I do take her out of the water everyday for a good bit. I have made her a little pull down blind for the side of the aquarium for basking privacy. I turned her heater down and it is now 77 in the water. She is not a happy camper though.
<Finding the right relationship between warm and cool is an adventure -- keep trying. Meanwhile, make sure that she has UV light as well. I'll include a link below that covers the basics flawlessly. Check all your care against the suggestions in the article and correct any discrepancies>
Thanks, TJ
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>


Does size or age determine sexual maturity?  7/27/09

(Original heading:  Red Ear Slider Behavior/Reproduction  7/27/09)

My name is Char.
<Hello Charlene,>
I have 2 red ear sliders that I got last December when they were about the size of a quarter and was told they were about 2 months old. So, I believe them now to be 8 months in age and one is 4'' long and 3.5'' wide and the other is 3.5'' long and 3.25'' wide. I noticed last night that the smaller of the 2 was "fanning" himself and now today the other has also done so.
My question being: in males does size or age play a role in their sexual maturity?
<Appears to be both, with males needing to be a certain size and a certain age. But, as with most animals, males are probably more "flexible" in this regard than females. In any case, males will be at least 2 years old before they are sexually mature, at which point they should be a good 10 cm or so in shell length.>
I know that females need to be at least 6'', but I can't seem to be able to find anything pertaining to males. I've started to wonder if the smaller of the 2 is looking for a female companion as he also tried to mount
himself onto the larger male.
<As with male animals generally, sexual behaviour tends to appear from quite an early age, even if the male animal in question wouldn't be big enough to attract (or fight for) a sexually mature female. Sex-play
behaviours will certainly be exhibited, as will aggression, long before the male animal will be able to secure access to a mate, or, where relevant, protect the nesting site or offspring. What your Red-ear Slider is doing
falls comfortably into the range of normal behaviours exhibited by the species. Nothing to worry about. Keeping two males won't cause any problems if the habitat is big enough, though as you'd expect, sexually mature males are aggression and will fight if overcrowded. Most people find keeping singletons best. They certainly don't need "friends".>
<Cheers, Neale.>


Male vs. female characteristics  6/1/2009

(Original heading:  Red Ear Slider unable to grab food 6/1/2009)

I have a red ear slider who is about 6 years old. I am not sure on sex.
Based on size I would say female but we may have seen it's male parts.
<The urogenital systems of turtles are largely internal, and the penis won't be visible unless the turtle is actually mating. Instead, look firstly at the claws: if they're long, it's probably a male. Secondly, look
at the length of the tail. Males have longer tails, with the cloaca (the combined anal/urogenital opening) nearer the tip than the base of the tail, whereas on females the cloaca is nearer the base of the tail than the
The issue is he wants to eat but has trouble grabbing the food. He is a bit lethargic and is no longer aggressive during eating time.
<If a turtle is clumsy when trying to feed, as yours is, that's a fairly reliable sign of poor health. Review environmental conditions. Check that the water is adequately heated, that the turtle has access to UV-B light, and that the water is changed at least once a week. There's a good summary here:
Also check that the turtle isn't wheezing and that it's eyes are clear and bright, not groggy-looking or swollen
These are both very common problems caused by improper diet, lack of warmth, etc. Since turtles should live 15+ years, that you lost one that was only 6 years old is a bit worrying. Some problems, such as the lack of UV-B light or the lack of vitamins can take months, even years, to cause death.>
We had another res which passed a few months ago I believe the temp got to low we since have added a heater to the tank.
<Would be careful here; turtles can, will destroy glass heaters. Put a plastic mesh called a "heater guard" around the heater. Some heaters come with these anyway (or at least, they do here in the UK) but aquarium shops sell them for use with cichlids, catfish, etc.>
It appears he sees the food but just can't quite grasp the food I have tried meal worms, brine shrimp, romaine lettuce, pellets nothing works.
<Check his eyes!>
We were able to hold the food with a fork until he grabbed on but that does not seem to work lately. I am afraid he will die if he does not eat soon.
Need Help!!!
<Hope this helps.>
<Cheers, Neale.>


Confusion regarding sex of turtle  4/29/09

(Original heading:  I followed all your steps but still need turtle help. 4/29/09)

Dear WWM Crew,
<Hiya! Darrel here today>
I have followed the steps you suggested before resorting to sending this e-mail, but after much reading and searching have not really found an answer to my situation on your website or others.
<On behalf of all of us, we really appreciate your searching first and asking second! Thanks for trying!>
Background information: 11 months ago my fiancé and I got 2 baby red eared sliders. They are currently residing in a 10 gallon tank (we are in the process of up grading to a larger one now) with heat lamp/UV etc., water heater, proper food and filtration etc. When we first got them their shell size was about 1.5 inches, and the slightly larger one was not always very nice to the slightly smaller one but they eventually got along well as they now do. The large one is a little over 4.5 inches and the smaller one is about 4 inches. About three weeks ago we noticed them doing the fanning with their claws- the little one to the big one- which we now know is their courtship.
<Again, thanks for researching!>
Then we noticed the little one attempting to mount the big one- again we now know they are trying to mate. I know that the males are usually smaller than the females and grow more slowly- which is consistent with our turtles up until now.
<Males don't exactly grow more slowly. As turtles mature, their rate of growth slows and since males mature sooner than females it can just SEEM that they grow slower. That isn't YOUR case, however.>
<Let's read on>
The problem: The cloaca on the bigger one is not very close to its shell at all making me think that she may be a he, the big one is also now approaching the small one and fans him with her claws, they both have the same size claws; so I am really confused about their sex.
<The important thing here is that THEY aren't confused about their sex>
While the smaller one is behind the big one and they are doing their mating stuff the big one who is on the bottom is pushing its "stuff" out under its own belly and stroking it. Everything I have read says that the males will push their penis out and do this.
The questions: If the big one is a female than why is she pushing her stuff out?
<She's not female - that's why>
It is possible for females to push their stuff out?
<Not and ever get it back, no. Besides, once a female turtle puts her stuff out, she gets a bad reputation>
It does not seem to hurt or cause any stress at all. Does this mean that the big one- who pushes its stuff out- is a male?
If the big one is a male than why is the small one trying to be the male? Does that mean they are both male?
If so why is the big one pushing its stuff out but going to the bottom position and letting the little one get up behind it before putting its stuff out? Is it bad for him to push his stuff out without mating?
<It's just what they do, Nicole. Don't worry about it. Many animals will exhibit this behavior in a single sex environment and, while it's goofy, it's nothing to concern yourself with,>
Is there anything I can do to stop it? Anything I can do to discourage mating if they are a boy and girl? I dont want babies or stressed/sick turtles, please help.
<The fact that they're both males pretty much takes care of the eggs/babies aspect and as far as sick and diseased, that's not really an issue, so again ... don't stress YOURSELF over it>
Thank you so much for reading all that, I am sorry it is so long but I dont know what information is important for you.
<It wasn't long at all Nicole -- you have NO IDEA how much some people can write and yet still manage to not give us enough information for help. You did well -- and once AGAIN ... thank you for doing the research before writing. It makes our job easier!>
Thank you again.
<No charge!>
Nicole L.


Differentiating male vs. female turtle  9/21/08

(Original heading:  Red Ear Slider -bottom heavy 9/21/08)

We have 3 turtles. The one in ? is seven months old, 5"x3.5 (approx). The king/queen of the tank. This evening at feeding (pellets) the turtle was lagging. As though bottom heavy, have difficulty getting up on the larger out of water level rocks. We have had pea size gravel in tank - now removed. The turtle is still interested in food. Back legs seem to work labored, signs of difficulty holding stance to put face above water. The smaller turtles seem to be helping - boost up - (if you will) their mate. What can be causing this??? The shell looks fine, and all looks good as far as I can see - But TurTy is still running bottom heavy??? What can I do??? Will this pass if he ate stones???
Thanks for your time and attention.
<Greetings. Swallowing stones is not normally a problem. But if she has done this, and can't pass them, then you will need to see a vet. A simple x-ray will confirm the problem. However, I do wonder if this particular terrapin is a female, which is easily checked. Males have much longer FRONT claws than the females. If the claws are smaller than the flipper, it's a girl; if the claws are longer than the flipper, it's a boy. Furthermore, females have smaller tails than males, and the cloaca (the combined anal-genital opening) is much closer to the shell than the tip of the tail. There are some nice pictures here:
Now, the reason I'm concentrating on sex is because females are prone to becoming egg-bound if they have the wrong diet and/or no place to lay their eggs. That would account of her heaviness and clumsiness. This is a fatal condition, and MUST be fixed quickly. If you suspect this to be the case, your terrapin is in much pain and distress, and needs help. Egg-bound females begin by frantically trying to get out of the tank: they're looking for somewhere sandy to put the eggs. A shallow dish of sand will do the trick, but if you miss the window of opportunity, the eggs can get stuck, and a vet will need to fix the problem, either surgically or by administering a hormone. Either way, YOU CAN'T FIX THIS YOURSELF.
It's a very common problem with terrapins kept indoors, and likely accounts for much (gruesome) mortality. In any case, a trip to the vet is in order, sooner rather than later. Cheers, Neale.>


Question about sexing  8/14/08

(Original heading:  Red ear slider turtles, gen. and esp. fdg.    8/14/08)

I have 2 red ear sliders--they are both about 4 inches, in length (this is shell length, and shells are thick). We got them in April of 2007, and they were quarter size, at that time. They are best friends, we have no problems.
<No jobs, school, property taxes OR alligators trying to eat them (I have all the above) -- they have easy lives!>
My question is I think I have one female, and one male? One has longer tail, the other has shorter, stubbier tail. Claws look to be about the same size. They won't cooperate long enough for me to check under tails. They have started to do the "mating dance" (I think). They get nose to nose and one will start fanning the face. Just for a few minutes, and then they continue on their way. They are only in a 10 gallon aquarium with the lighting, the basking rocks, and gravel, etc. We live in Buffalo, and on nice warm days, I fill up the baby pool outside with driftwood, and let them hang there for a few hours. With supervision, due to cats and kids in the neighborhood.
<I was born in Niagara Falls. Nice summers!>
Since they are only about 1 1/2 yrs old, isn't it too soon for them to breed?
<It's not the age, it's the size. Although 1 1/2 years is early, 4 inches is barely about the size that males start to mature, so while it's not likely, it's POSSIBLE ... and the fanning behavior is typical male slider courting behavior ... so if you're not there yet, you're getting close>
How old are red ear sliders before they breed, and do I have a male and female, since too, they are about the same size? We bought them together in Myrtle Beach. Maybe female isn't mature in size yet?
<That is correct. The male matures at a smaller size while the female keeps growing and gets bigger before she's mature. The male will get the nice, long nails (a girl I know sites that as one more reason that life just isn't fair). Once the male starts courting behavior this just "bugs" the female for a few more years because she's not interested yet,>
They are extremely happy all the time, love to eat, people and kid friendly, love to greet people as soon as anyone walks into the room.
<Really? That Warner Brother's Dancing Michigan J Frog comes to mind>
They'll come a running to side of the tank, when they spot anyone. Oh, one thing I noticed (from having turtles when we were kids), is they LOVE raw hamburger, and RAW turkey burger. We feed them that off our fingers, (so they are not being overfed, and leaving raw burger in they're tank), but every so often they grab the finger and OUCH!!
<You deserve to hurt for that. No. NO.... NOOOOOOOOOOOO! No Hamburger!! No Turkey!! No Hotdogs, chicken, pot pies, pork chops, steak, Cheese Doodles or ANY other people food. PERIOD!! And no wine or cocktails either (they have no self control!)>
<Diet --- bad diet and overfeeding are the #1 health problems in turtles and most pets -- and what you're feeding them isn't good for them, OK? Koi Pellets, Repto-min food sticks (exactly the same as the koi pellets only more expensive) and a rare and occasional earthworm>
They pinch and pinch hard.
<Another reason not to do that. It won't be long before that pinch becomes a skin break and then it's tetanus shots and antibacterial ... for them -- humans can be infectious to reptiles>
Need too know, though, if I should start a nesting area, or anything. All we are seeing at this time is we think the "mating dance". Could you let me know?
<She needs to be around 5 inches minimum straight carapace length before she's even remotely ready ... so.... not yet.>
Thanks kindly----VaLinda
<Pretty name!!!!!>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>


Characteristics of male turtles  8/18/08

(Original heading:  RES turtle question... beh./repro. mostly, plus keen insight into the human cond.    8/18/08)

Hi - I hope you can answer my questions, as I don't know how to do it on your website.
<Quite simple. Start on the Freshwater page, go to Livestock, and then browse the Turtle articles and FAQs. Failing that, there's a Google search box.
I have two sliders, about 11 years old, probably from the same "litter" (is that the correct word?) and very, very friendly. They are great pets, very responsive, eat out of our hands and we love watching them. They live in a 10 gal. turtle tank,
<Whoa... 10 gallons? That's WAY too small for them. At 11 years old, these things should be the size of dinner plates. Do see here:
have a nice big floating rock on one end, and love to stand up on their hind legs on the rock and hang on the sticks that support the rock with their front legs. They both learned this trick on their own.
<Hmm... suspect they learned this more from necessity than any sense of fun. This habitat is just too small for them.>
They get along really well, and the only time there's competition is when they eat. One is bigger and dominant, but they never fight.
Last year they started this fluttering thing, and reading your website I see it's courtship behavior. It seems to be mutual, no one turtle chasing the other, and both seem to have the same length of nails. My husband wonders if they are gay -- well, OK, maybe, but maybe they are of different genders and I can't tell.
<Trachemys scripta elegans is easy to sex. Males have much longer claws on their front flippers than females. Males also have longer, thicker tails with the cloaca (the combined anal/genital opening) near the tip rather than close to the shell.>
So, if they aren't the same sex, what should I do? There is no sand in the tank (it's a water tank, so sand never occurred to me). Should I try sand, and what kind of sand?
<Do see here:
I see no evidence of sex organs or even mating behavior. The fluttering is lovely to watch -- so gentle and sweet. We feel it's communication on a level we can't quite understand, and are not meant to understand. Sometimes they do it twice or three times a day, and sometimes not at all. Today and yesterday I saw it again.
<Glad it's providing entertainment! Yes, it is quite a strange thing to see...>
However, if I should be doing something for them, can you let me know?
<If nothing else, a bigger habitat.>
Their names are Yin and Yang and I have them since they were very very small.
It's interesting how you can get to really like turtles -- never thought it would be possible, but they really have fun personalities!
<It is certainly possible to become fond of any pet animal, even one with such limited intelligence as a terrapin. I always thought they have very pretty faces, especially eyes.>
Thanks for any advice you can give --
<Hope this helps, Neale.>


Female turtle is really a male  7/6/08

(Original heading:  What is she doing? RES beh.  7/6/08)

<Hiya Mom -- Darrel here>
My son and I have a female Red Eared Slider and she has been doing some odd things;
<I have a son and HE is doing some odd things -- but he's 15 so I just ignore it>
First she will often (if you put your finger pad against the glass) put her head down and tuck it in a bit then she will frame her face with her claws and vibrate them.
<Interesting, that sounds like a male courting behavior. You haven't said how big the turtle is (turtles reach sexual maturity with SIZE, not age) or how we know it's a female. Is the shell about 3 inches long or more? Are the front claws elongated? (See Figure 1 in the link below) If so, you have a male not a female>
The second odd thing she has done is (when I had her outside yesterday in the sun) that as I held her she peed 2 times and then looked like she was about to poop but then something black with a yellow center came out of her poop hole instead, she pushed it out and pulled it back in 2 times.
<The evidence is piling up .....>
When I took her back inside she did not do it again. I am concerned- is this normal or was that her bowels?
<That was his .. um .... reproductive organ and as long as he can pull it back in, then it's normal -- although I'd caution your son that it's ok normal for a TURTLE to do that, not for a human (boy was THAT ever an expensive lesson!!!!!>
or was that her womb that she was thinking needed to be out to be fertilized?
<Not really, everything is fine>
What do these two behaviors mean?
<They mean that your little turtle has grown up. There's nothing you have to do about it, either. Sliders are colonial animals, which is to say that in the wild they tend to congregate, but they don't seem to suffer at all being housed singularly.>
<Hope that helps!>
mama T
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>


Normal changes in shell color as turtle ages  2/13/08

(Original heading:  Young Slider with shell color changes   2/13/08)

<Hiya SB!>
Thanks for being here and having such a great site.
<Thank you, too. We like being here!>
I couldn't quite find what I was looking for with the search engine because I'm not too familiar with the terminology and the structure of turtle's shells. I have a very young Red Eared Slider turtle (slightly bigger than a 50 cent piece). I've been taking care of it since November and things have been going pretty good. I have a 20 gallon tank, a hang-on filter (I know they're not very good, but I can't afford a canister right now)
<Actually, hold up there. It's just fine for a tank that size, it's easier to clean than a canister and for that reason you'll do it more often -- if it's working for you, don't change it!>
A UVB/UVA bulb directly overhead, an ample basking area, and I feed the turtle a diet of ReptoMin pellets and occasionally a krill as a treat (maybe three times a week). I also completely clean out the tank every Friday unless I'm especially busy.
<Sounds good so far. Better than good. Great actually.>
Lately I've been noticing the colors of his shell changing. The area between the sections (I suppose they're called scutes?)
<They are called scutes and the area between the scutes are called margins ... but mainly called ..... The Area Between Scutes>
of the carapace has been becoming darker and darker, until now it's almost black. Although the turtle is still acting normally and very energetic (constantly tries to bite me during feeding), this has me very worried. What are the possible causes of this and what should I do?
<That's normal as the grow, SB. As he/she ages they bright green is replaced by a duller green and then a darker color that helps them blend in to their surroundings and the margins become dark & then black. SO ...... IN OTHER WORDS ... the cause for this is that your Slider is growing and thriving because you're being such a good care giver!!!>
Thanks in advance for your help.
<Once again, you do the work ..... and I take the thanks. I LOVE THIS JOB!!!!!!!! -- Darrel>


Slider or not slider? 10/20/07
I'm full of questions.
<We've got answers! In fact, on the subject of information one of my colleagues recently told me that I'm full of it!>
I've been searching and can't find my answer. I bought two turtles in Florida on vacation this past summer. I was told they were Red Eared Sliders but I'm not so sure. They do not have any red on them at all. I thought maybe that came as they grew (they were about the diameter of a golf ball). They are mostly shades of dark green and yellow.
<Red Eared Sliders come out of the shell with a small red patch on each side of their heads, approximately where their ears would be.
Red Eared Sliders have green and yellow stripes while a close relative called a Cooter has black and yellow. Map turtles can sometimes be green and yellow and they lack the red patches. I'm going to list a few names for you to Google under "images" and see what rings a bell>
They have ornate patterns on their skin and shells with a raised hump down the center. The underside of the shell is lined with green spots around the edges, outlined in yellow. Bellies are yellow with a few dark green spots.
<Have a cell phone with a camera? Take some candid shots and send 'em to us!>
Is there anyway to tell the sex?
<Not as juveniles, no. All their visual sexual characteristics become apparent when they start to mature, which is by size and not age.>
I've read that the thin film that they appear to be shedding is how they grow, but I also read it means fungus.
<Lets go with fungus. They don't she a "film" as they grow, but thin layers of the shell do shed as hard plates.>
Is there any way to be sure?
<In this case, we'll treat for it and if it goes away then we were right and if it doesn't we're no worse for wear. Search this site for the keywords "Darrel" and "fungus" and you'll get some simple home treatments that will be very effective for a low grade/initial fungal problem.>
<For general purpose reading on regular care, start here:
They are growing a lot, very active, have a very clean tank with plenty of water and basking area and love to eat.
<All sounds well, Rachel. Having said that, please read the referenced link (above) regarding general care and check, double check and re-check your care against the advice given. We can beat a simple case of fungus without problem, but the trick of keeping any fish or reptile healthy is a single word: PREVENTION!>
They don't seem "sick."
<You sound like you're doing a great job and that you're enjoying them!>
Sorry for so many questions.
<I hope you enjoyed the answers as much as I did enjoy the questions!>
Thank you for any help you can provide!
<Worth every penny you paid for it -- the Google Bar at the bottom of our (WetWebMedia) home page is your friend!>
<Regards -- Darrel>


Average growth rate and determining sex  7/21/07

(Original heading:  Red Eared Slider help  7/21/07)

Hello guys,
<Hiya Christopher -- Darrel here with you tonight>
I wanted to know how to take care of an Red Eared Slider in the winter. For example, how much should I feed him, how often should I change the water and should I still give it sunlight or UVB lighting.
<These are very good questions, but the answers are a bit muddy & not very concrete.>
<Let's keep it simple. Sliders will respond to the TEMPERATURE CHANGES of winter much more strongly than the subtleties of altered photoperiods (shorter days) and all that science-type stuff. So as long as the Temperature holds, it's not really "winter" as far as the turtle is concerned. If your turtle is inside the house in an aquarium and there is a normal basking light (there should not be a water heater) then for your turtle, it's just another day in the swamp ... No winter to speak of. If it's outside, in a pond .... it's way too small to BE in a pond ... so set up a tank indoors like I described above and -- presto -- no winter. Now ... if it gets a LITTLE bit chilly where you have her, then cut back the feeding just to be sure. It never hurts for them to be just a little bit hungry.>
My turtle is 2 inches and is a female.
<A bit of a disagreement here, Chris. If it's only two inches and assuming you haven't probed it, she's too small to determine the sex yet. Notice I didn't say too "young" because for turtles, like most reptiles, sexual maturity (and with that the visual differences between the boys & girls) comes with SIZE, not age.>
Also, do you know the average growth rate of an RES. Just the approximate average.
<That is SO totally dependant of heat, food and environment that anything I say could be wrong (and at the same time right for someone else) -- 3/4 to an inch each year for the first year to year & a half and then slower after that .... but if it's warm enough and she's fed enough, it could almost be double that>
Last, do turtles in fact hibernate or not?
<Sliders do, depending on where they are. In some Northern states wild sliders have been known to over-winter at the bottom of a pond that's frozen solid at the top. Now ... to anyone reading this who has sliders that can be subject to winter conditions ... PLEASE keep in mind that while they do hibernate and CAN survive a cold winter .... MANY wild turtles do not survive. Some perish outright and many are so damaged that they barely survive the next year. Mother Nature sees that 1,000 hatch so that ONE can live to lay another set of eggs. The odds do NOT favor a turtle wild ... so please don't try it -- as responsible pet keepers it's our job to improve Nature's odds, not duplicate them.>
Thanks for all your help.
<No charge!>


Turtle Age   4/23/07
Hey there.   A coworker found a RES at work. I think it is a male turtle.  We are curious as to how old he is. His shell measures about 4" in length.  Also, his back legs seem to be shedding or peeling.  Is this normal, or could he have some type of skin condition? Thanks for a response.  Pam
< RES's are normally found wild in many parts of the country. Assuming that the turtle you found is wild and is a male it could be from three to five years old. Turtles in the north grow slower than turtles in the south because the have a shorter warm season to eat and grow.-Chuck>


How fast do RES grow; How big do they get?  4/16/07

(Original heading:  Turtle Growth   4/16/07)

Hello, My name is Cindy and I have two pet turtles, Todd and Chelsy, but I don't know if there a boy or girl and on most websites they say that turtles at that age are too young.  So my question is, do they grow fast?
< Most young turtles seem to grow quickly when they are young. As they get older their diet changes from a meaty high protein diet to more of a vegetarian diet with less protein. At first they should grow and inch or two a year up until they get around four inches, then it may be around a inch or less. >
How big do they grow to? 7 inches?
< You did not mention the species of the turtles, so I am forced to guess that you have red eared sliders, the most common turtle in the trade. Males are smaller than females and can probably get up to 7 inches over many years. Females sometimes get up to 12 inches.>
I'm curios, and I love them, please tell me the best way to make it love me like I love them. thank you!!!!!!!!
< Turtles really don't form an affection for people like a puppy dog. What they will do instead is identify with the person that feeds them. Every time you walk by they will follow you around begging for food. Your biggest challenge will be not to over feed them. If they eat too much they can die. Turtle's stomachs can't can't expand because of the shell restricting them. The food will displace and squeeze their internal organs and cause problems.-Chuck>


Turtle Growth Rates  8/8/06
I have read various articles on the internet about red ear sliders (RES) and I know that they grow quickly, but I haven't been able to find out how
quickly.  I understand that it depends somewhat on their care.  I am looking into getting a RES for the first time and I would like to know how quickly I
should expect them to grow.  I am looking at getting a 40 or 60 gal. aquarium to start, but I would like some idea about how long those tanks
will be big enough.  I am looking to start with a turtle that is about 4 inches. Thanks, Troy
< Turtle growth rates as you know depend on a few factors. Males stay smaller than females. A very large old female may get up to 12 inches over many years. Males may get up to 8 inches but that would be pretty rare. When turtles are small they eat a lot of meat. This protein promotes an very quick growth rate. Older turtles like yours actually change their diet to a more vegetarian one. Vegetables have less protein than meat so they don't grow as fast. Turtles kept outside in the southern portion of the U.S. are growing year round while others kept outside in the north hibernates in the winter and don't grow at all during that time.  A 40 to 60 gallon tank would probably  keep your turtle going until it got to be about 8 inches. Under normal conditions this would probably take another 5 to 10 years if it is a female.-Chuck>


20 gallon tank please answer Red Eared Slider Growth   5/25/06
Ok, I have sent about 4 e-mails and they have not been answered yet. I am very upset one was sent over 2 months ago. All I want to know is how large will a red ear slider grow in a twenty gallon tank and how long will it take? I am very disappointed that none of my e-mails have been answered.
<Don't know why your questions have not been answered. I usually answer all my questions in 24 hours unless I am out of town. Anyway, the size of the tank has nothing to do with the size or growth rate of your turtle. It is based on temperature and diet. When turtles are little they seem to grow fairly quickly and then slow down after they reach 4 inches or so. In a twenty gallon aquarium I would look to get a bigger tank when the turtle reaches 4 inches or so. An adult can be kept in an aquarium that is at least 4 feet long.-Chuck>
<<A note to readers:  we do sometimes not receive emails that are sent to us.  If you fear that has happened, please do re-send.  Also, emails with no subject line may be deleted accidentally.  Furthermore, we are an all-volunteer crew, and we DO strive to answer all queries within a 24 hour time period, but it does occasionally take longer.  -SCF>>


Turtle Age And Spawning Green Terrors   3/20/06
Hi crew. Thanks for the earlier help. I have recently purchased a red year slider  turtle.1)! wanted to know how can I calculate its age. Its about 2  inches.
< It is probably a hatchling that was hatched about a year ago last spring.>
  2)My green terrors are not spawning. What can I do to stimulate them to spawn.
   any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanking you
< Feed them heavily with good food like live washed earthworms. The n do big 50% water changes while vacuuming the gravel. Raise the water temp to 82 F.-Chuck>


How to tell their age and sex

(Original heading:  Red Eared Slider Questions  11/10/05)

I just got my Red Ear Slider on the 30th of Oct. I don't know how to tell their age or sex and I would really like to know.
< Females get larger than the males. Males have longer front claws and a longer tail.  They grow pretty fast until they get around 6 to 8 inches and then slow down a bit.>
I named him Tom, but I don't know if that is right. He is currently living in a five gallon tank w/ a UV ray light and a basking light. He has a turtle dock to get out of the water and bask, he has a bubble maker and other decorations. I feed him Zoo Meds Hatchling aquatic turtle food. I also put in Reptisafe in the water to get rid of the bad stuff. The water is about 3/4 of an inch above his shell. 
I have a picture of a turtle sitting up facing his tank. He loves to sit on the rock and look at the turtle.. too cute! I am thinking about getting another RES, how many and what sex should I get?
< I would recommend not adding another turtle.>
Is there anything else that I can feed him to make him feel better?
< He will appreciate live foods such as washed earthworms, mealworms and kingworms.>
I think he may be constipated. What color is normal for turtle feces and urine?
< The color is a reflection of the items he has been eating.>
I have not seen any in the tank so I'm thinking he may be constipated. How do you know and if he is what do I do?
< A small turtle fecal material may be small and caught up in a filter.>
He is shedding and I want to know if it's ok to be shedding this young, he is still a hatchling.  Thank you, M. L. 
< A young turtle should be shedding. It is a sign that he is growing.-Chuck> 


Appropriate size to determine sex  7/19/05

(Original heading:  Red Eared Sliders Not Eating 7/19/05)

I have two baby RES. One female and one male.
< You cannot tell the sex on baby red eared sliders until they are around 4 inches in length. At this size I wouldn't really call them babies.>
The female seems to be more aggressive then the male. But that's not the problem. The problem
is that the turtles have not yet eaten yet. I've had them for 3 days
now and they haven't eaten. I've tried baby floating pellets and bits
of raw ham. Is this normal for them? And the male seems to spend most
of his time under water. He goes up when he's under the light though.
Is that also normal?
< If you are truly referring to baby red eared sliders then the are pretty small at around one inch. Look at the belly and see if they still have an egg spot on the bottom of the shell. If they are really this small then they just got done absorbing their egg sac and really shouldn't have been sold yet. We have gotten letters from people impulse buying baby turtles at swap meets and then trying to figure out how to take care of them after they get them home. Keep the water clean and give them a basking spot out of the water where they can heat up under a plant light or some natural direct light. Try feeding them small washed earthworms. That will usually get them going.-Chuck>


Red Eared Slider? 2/24/04
<Hi, Pufferpunk here>
I have a turtle and I don't know what kind it is.
<1st of all, I must insist you write in sentences & use capital letters when necessary.  All the questions sent to us are posted on our website & I have to take a lot of time to correct this, before I can send it on to the site.  This takes time away from answering other questions.>
I need to find out because I have a project that I have to do.
<What kind of project?>
It is about the size of a half dollar and it has kind of diamond shapes in the middle of its shell. It has like brownish red by its ears. It is green and yellow do you know what kind it is?
<It sounds like a red-eared slider.  Is this your turtle? http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/nature/wild/reptiles/slider.htm>
I could really use some help!
<I'm surprised you were able to purchase this turtle at that size.  It is illegal to purchase aquatic turtles under 5", due to their carrying salmonella bacteria.  Good luck with your project.  I hope it is not harmful to the turtle in any way.  These turtles need clean filtered water.  They need a lot of swimming room, & a piece of land to bask on, with a heat lamp above.  Small strips of fish, krill, shrimp, crickets & worms are what they like to eat.  They also need a source of minerals for their shell, by vitamins & a sulfa rock in the water.  ~PP>


Sexing Red Eared Sliders
Hi. I have two red eared slider turtles and I was wondering what age I
can tell what sex they are?- Sean age 9 me , not the turtles
< Red eared sliders sex can usually be determined when they are around four inches long. At that time the males should be developing longer front claws and have a longer tail. Females of the same age should be larger than the males. -Chuck>



Variations in shades of red coloring on ears

(Original heading:  Turtle Not Eating)

This is the first time for me to have red ear slider. One slider has yellow orangish markings instead of red the other does have the red markings is this something to be concerned about and will it become a health issue?
< Some variation in color is to be expected between turtles. This is normal. >
I don't believe they are eating as much as they should. I have had them for 3 days and the turtle (dot that's her name but now I learn that she may not
even be a girl the store sadly misinformed me on how to tell the sex) with the yellow markings is the only one eating. Other than this I am happy to say
that they appear happy which makes me happy. If you could just ease my concerns that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
<Check the basking spot with a thermometer. It should be about 85+ F. Turtles need heat to properly digest their food and a spot that is too cool with cause digestive problems later on. Once they are properly warmed up the appetite should come around.-Chuck>


Determining A Turtles Age
I was wondering how to tell how old my Red Ear Slider is they are pretty small only like 2 inches but I still don't know how old they are please help be very explanative I am kinda slow! Thank you .ML.
< Turtle are "Cold Blooded". That means the warmer it is the faster they grow and the more they eat. Under normal captive conditions a little turtle can get up to 2 to 3 inches in a year. Wild turtles would hibernate and may only get to be 2 inches because they did not grow while hibernating.-Chuck>>
How Old Is My Turtle?
> I still don't understand how to tell how old they are please help!
< I would guess almost two years old.-Chuck>


Markings behind eyes

Baby Turtle Questions

<Hi, MikeD here>
We bought two little turtles at a flea market about a week ago.  Their shells are about 1" - 1½" in diameter.<It's that time of year>  The guy who sold them to us had them in a tiny little plastic aquarium with barely any water.  Anyway, when we got home I searched the internet to find out how to take care of them, and found out it's illegal to sell them that small.<Yes and no. As pets yes, with many using the loophole "for educational purposes only>  We think they are red eared sliders, because of the spot behind their eyes. It's not really red though, more like peach.  Does the shade indicate their health, or does it get more red as they get older?<The amount of red varies, actually being pink or yellow in some cases, with there being several closely related sliders>  We got them a glass aquarium, filter, heat lamp, floating island, and turtle food from the pet store.  The aquarium is like a regular sized fish tank, 20 gallons I guess.  How long will it be before they need a bigger tank?<That depends on how much you feed them, what you feed them, etc.>  Also, I have only seen one of the turtles eat, and am worried that the other is not eating.<It may not be feeding. They often get "soft shell" from not being able to get out of the water enough, as well as fungus and other ailments as well>  I've read the long lists on the internet of foods you are supposed to get for your turtle, are the instructions/recommendations any different for turtles this small? <Just make sure they can easily get out of the water and that you have a full spectrum "daylight" herp bulb. Feeding meaty foods can be helpful as well, but use caution as this is why it's technically illegal to sell them, as salmonella bacteria flourish in the water>  The turtle that I saw eat seems a lot more active and even smarter than the other one.  Do turtles have different "personalities" or is the second turtle not as healthy?<This could be either or both. If #2 isn't eating, it's likely ill>  Should we report the guy who sold them to us?  Who would we report him too? You can file a complaint with your local state's fish and wildlife dept. and/or the better business bureau if you wish>
Thank you,


Slider Sexing
We are Child Development Center in Weston and we do have a red ear slider turtle who's name is Chocolate she is about 10 years old.  We were actually wondering if there is a way to tell if a turtle is male or female.  If you can provide us with this information we would greatly appreciate it.
Thank you,
Beginnings' kids
<Hi,  the easiest way to tell is to look at the claws on their front feet, the males will have much longer claws than the females, the underside of the males will also be slightly concave.  The females will usually grow larger than the males.  Good luck, keep those little hands washed.  Best Regards, Gage>


Red Eared Slider Age
Hi I was wondering how to tell how old my red eared slider is, roughly how to tell.
Thank You Jeanne
<Hi Jeanne.  I am not really sure how to tell how old a Red Eared Slider is, or any chelonian for that matter.  They can live for approximately 20 years, as they age their colors will be more drab and less defined.  Size can help to factor in the age, unless the turtles growth was stunted at some point in its life.  They can reach adulthood at anywhere from 5-12 inches.  Hope this helps a little.  I am sure your turtle has many happy years ahead of it.  Best Regards, Gage>


Turtle Gender
I have two turtles "red ear sliders" .How can I tell male or female? The store where I got them said they were male & female, but how can I make sure.. Thank You, Gina Lauro
<quite easily... as they mature, the males grow very long nails on the front feet while the females stay short and stubby. Males use the nails in a courtship display to stimulate females to spawn. Best regards, Anthony>


How to tell males from females

(Original heading:  Red Ear Sliders)

I have two red ear sliders. I just want to know how to tell them a part. Write Back, Gina
<Males have the long nails. -Steven Pro>


How to distinguish male from female?

(Original heading:  Red Ear Slider)

Need info on how to distinguish a red ear slider is male or female...thanks. Jeff
<Please read here: http://www.kingsnake.com/forum/res/
Bob Fenner>


A Red Ear is a Terrapin is a RES!
>Hi there,
>I didn't see anything that would help me on the postings. I have two RES's and they came from the same tank which was much small than the 55 gallon that I have put them in.  One is about 5 inches and the other is
>3 inches in length.  I have notices that the bigger one is attacking the smaller one biting at its head and feet and tail.  I am not sure what to do or if I can stop it?
>***I'm sorry, what exactly is a RES?
>Jim*** >
<Hey Amanda, you've confused us all.  What is a RES?  If you could give us a little more information I hope we can help you.  Thanks MacL>
Having finally been enlightened as to what "RES" means (you gratuitous abbreviator you) I can make sense of your post. I'm actually quite a reptile geek, but my experience is mostly with monitor lizards, other lizards and various snakes. I suggest you post your question on a herp site such as Kingsnake.com. Or, call East Bay Vivarium in Berkeley Ca.
Best of luck.



 Chrysemys picta

Shown on right:  Eastern Painted Turtle

·       Carapace flattened & smooth; dark greenish to black in color

·       Distinctive red patterned border around outside of shell, both top and bottom

·       Skin black w/ yellow & red stripes on legs, neck and tail; head has 2 bright yellow stripes on each side of head

·       Adults grow to be approx. 5-8 in shell length

·       Females larger in size; males have longer claws, thicker tails and their cloaca is farther from shell


Sexing a Painted Turtle  11/22/04
<Hi, Pufferpunk here>
I have a 21 year old painted turtle that I adopted from I friend about a year ago.  
<Now that's an old reptile!>
My friend claims that some time ago should found a small egg in the turtle's aquarium and so she assumed that the turtle must be female.
<Very good guess.>
But when I held one of my female box turtles up next to the glass of the aquarium to say hi to the water turtle, the water turtle started doing that weird hand swishing mating ritual, which would suggest the turtle is a male turtle, right?
<I think the egg was the giveaway on this one.  It must be a female turtle.  You can also tell by it's tail.  Males have tiny short tails & females have longer fat tails.  My turtles do happy dances whenever I go near their tank, thinking they might be fed.>
Assuming my friend wasn't hallucinating or lying,  where could an egg possibly come from? Strange question, I know.
<Unless there was another critter in the tank to lay an egg, it had to come from the turtle.  ~PP>


Determining Sex of Juvenile Turtles
Hi!<Hi, MikeD here>  Today I purchased two adorable turtles, the size of a quarter<Those are newly hatched and often quite delicate>.  I figure they are Painted Turtles, because of their colors<Many little turtles offered for sale are quite colorful, with the most common being the Red-eared Slider, which is green with yellow striping on the neck and one red stripe in the middle. True Painted turtles have red edging around the shell and no "red ear", but in either case, determining the sex is done the same way.>, but how can I tell whether they are male of female?<For now this is nearly impossible. As they get larger males will develop very long "fingernails" on the front feet, while the females will remain short, the same as on the rear feet. The males "court" underwater by placing their feet in front of their face and waving these long front claws. Another method is by "probing" to locate the hemipenises (they have two each), but this again ought to be done when they are larger and by a professional, as it entails risk of serious injury if done incorrectly>  I would really like to know, please answer back.  
Thank you,<You're very welcome>
Melissa C.R.


Small turtle my cat brought home
hi<Hi, MikeD here> I was wondering if you could help? First my cat brought home a very small
turtle slightly bigger than a quarter amazingly it was and is still alive. I have tried to find out it's type. we are in Maine, the small critter has an almost rounded dark shell, with an orangey/yellow bottom shell. the back legs have red stripes and the front legs as well as the throat area has yellow stripes and nothing on top but two small yellow dots on either side of its head.< Most likely it's an Eastern Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta>there are several ponds miles down the dirt road. I am sure the bass one of which I caught (4lbs) would enjoy this little critter as a snack.<They would!>I have decided to try and keep it as I love turtles and am willing to spend what it needs for its care. The way I see it I already have 18 pets what's one more! Do you have an idea as to what kind it could be?<See above, Eastern Painted turtle>any special care tips?<To do it right you need a small aquarium,50%water/50% land and a good herp light. Herp vitamins/calcium help too> thank you for your help my
e-mail address is XXXX@aol.com if you would be kind enough to respond there. thanks again<You're welcome. Hope it helps a little> Marcee


Difference between males and females

(Original heading:  Painted Turtle Shedding)

I have 2 young painted turtles in about a some where between 20-30 gallon tank. well our oldest about 1 year's feet are shedding as so my dad says. we do not know how to cure it we have looked every were so you are our last person to  turn to. And I have another question how do you tell the difference between a male and female painted turtle?
<It is pretty normal for turtles to shed, I would not worry too much.  Focus on proper husbandry, clean water, correct temperature, and a good diet, I am sure your turtles will be fine.  The males will have much longer toe nails than the females, the underside of the males shell (plastron) will be more concave than the females as well.  Best Regards, Gage>



Pseudemys concinna

Shown on right:  River Cooter

·     Olive or brown upper shell with yellow/cream markings

·     River cooters have backward facing C-shaped marks on upper shell

·     Plastron is yellow with large, darker pattern

·     Head and neck have numerous thin yellow stripes (vs. sliders that have broader yellow stripes)

·     Can become fairly large, up to 12-16 shell length

·     Females larger in size; males have longer claws, thicker tails and their cloaca is farther from shell


Red eared slider/ not - my guess is ... NOT!  11/12/07
<Hello right back!>
A couple of months ago I brought 2 turtles from a pet store in London, I was told that 1 was a map turtle and the other was a red eared slider. The thing is after looking at hundreds of pictures of red eared sliders I came to a conclusion that mine cant be. For a start it doesn't have the red bits behind its eyes just yellow circles I don't know how to tell 1 turtle from another so please help.
<That's one characteristic of a Red Eared Slider, Tammy. If he doesn't have a red patch where are ear would be, he's not a Red Eared Slider. Are the yellow circles on BLACK or on GREEN? Yellow and Black is similar to another common turtle, the Cooter (Pseudemys concinna). Expand your picture search to just Pseudemys and you'll find many more kinds to look and compare.>
Also both my turtles necks seem to be peeling.
<They do shed skin as they grow>
The water temp is mostly at 73f (even though the shop keeper told me it should be 75 _85f) I'm very nervous that they might get sick, as after reading most of the questions on the site I noticed that what the pet shop keeper told me I needed for the set up of the tank isn't what this site is saying.
<Yes, many different opinions, all from people who are successful, does seem to be a bit confusing.>
<Personally, I'd rather the water be around 73 degrees and the basking area in the high 80's to low 90's. 85 degree water is just TOO HOT and the whole idea is for you to give them a warm basking area and cool water -- and let them CHOOSE the temperature that suits them. Look at it this way: You may be a novice turtle KEEPER ... but Elvis and Princess are experts at BEING turtles! Offer them the choice and let them choose.>
Both Elvis and Princess (my turtles) shells are about 2 inches from head to tail, please give me any information you can.
<Tammy, I'm enclosing a link to an article I wrote about sliders and almost all of it is relevant to Graptemys (the Map turtle) as well -- what's mostly important is that you follow the suggestions closely.>
<As far as the Map Turtle is concerned, for a number of reasons, they are more susceptible to water-borne parasites and infections that the Sliders, so pay particularly close attention to water quality. It should be clean anyway ... but VERY clean ALWAYS for the health of the Map Turtle. Other than that, the rest of the care in the link is perfectly appropriate.>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Yer Welcome!>
<PS: Write back and send pictures once you figure out what she is!>


A Mystery turtle and some turtle help, fdg. young    5/24/07
Hello,    I'm Jessie.
<Nice to meet you Jessie, I'm Darrel>
Recently, my mother found a baby turtle roaming around while at work. So she brought it home (mainly because our family has a need to care for animals... and it was cute). It's a bit larger than a quarter and has intricate yellow markings. These markings include 2 swirls near the back of its shell and black spots on the underside of the shell (these are just main markings I'm trying to point out it has yellow stripes everywhere). The spots are on the underside of the rim of the shell, other than that it has an all yellow underbelly. Oh, an it has this little ridge on its back. Now I've been doing research, and I think that it is a baby River Cooter.
<That what I was thinking, too.>
She found this turtle kind of out of its area. You see, it says that this turtle lives in the northern part of Florida, but we live in Sarasota.  I'd be happy to send pictures of it... when my dad comes home with the camera.
<many different cooters live in Florida, Jessie and I'd guess this one lives in your area.  You don't have to send pictures>
I HAVE been trying to find out what I could about Florida turtles and about baby river cooters. Unfortunately, I find myself in a very difficult situation. 1. I don't know how old it is so I don't know if its still using the yolk for food.
<I doubt that it is, so it's time to start feeding it>
2. I am lacking the foods that the sites I have visited suggest feeding to this turtle (cut up minnows or lettuce)
<a small cotter would like koi pellets that are available cheaply at your local pet store>
3. I'm not completely sure if this turtle will be a permanent pet. Seeing a show it's a baby, it's cute, we love animals, and my Dad seems to have taken an interest in it, I'm guessing it will be.
<let's hope so!  They make fun and interesting pets>
Can anyone help me? And or does anyone have suggestions?
<first, make sure it has a place to get wet and a place to get dry and warm and is safe from any other animals like dogs or cats.  They like sunshine, but direct Florida sunshine can get that little guy overheated quickly, so never leave him alone out under the sun.  Here is a link to a care sheet that will tell you a lot more  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/redearsliders.htm  Good luck to you, Jessie, and thank you for writing us!>


Trachemys scripta scripta

·     Carapace is brown and black with yellow stripes

·     Skin is olive green with patches of yellow down neck and legs

·     Plastron is mostly yellow with green spots along edge (Note:  often confused with Eastern river cooters who dont have these spots)

·     Adults average 5-13 in shell length

·     Females larger in size but males have longer claws, thicker tails and their cloaca is farther from shell


Turtle identification  8/18/09
I'm Lotoya
<I'm not! -- I'm Darrel>
I'm just trying to identify the type of turtle that I have. Based on the receipt I received from the pet shop, it states that its a red ear slider.
However, based on photos that I have found on the internet, it looks more like a yellow bellied slider, So I am just trying to confirm this with you guys.
<Based on the lack of a bright red patch on the side of the head, generally around where we'd expect ears to be (hence the name Red "Eared" Slider as opposed to Red "Necked" Slider), this is indeed a one of any number of subspecies of Trachemys Scripta scripta, or Yellow Bellied Slider.>
<Of course, if he sits around the house all day chewing tobacco, has a broke down pickup truck in his front lawn and a refrigerator on his front porch .... HE JUST MIGHT BE a REDNECK Yellow Bellied Slider!!!!!!>
PS I have attached two photographs.
<Larry is handsome>
Thanks in advance for your help.
<Here's some more help: a Complete Guide to caring for Larry:


Differentiating males from females  7/14/2009

(Original heading:  Question About Yellow Bellied Slider Turtles. Fdg. +   7/14/2009)

Hello.! I'm Nadine.
<Hiya right back! Darrel here>
I have 2 Yellow Bellied Slider Turtles which I bought at xmas 2007 when they were babies. I have several questions and I hope you can help because no one else seems to know.
<I hope I can answer them too!>
First things first - Feeding - At the moment I'm feeding them once in the morning and once in the evening, I know as they get older your only supposed to feed them once every 2 days but how do you know when you start doing that?
<You can start doing that right now. After a year they will do just fine feeding once a day during the summer and once every three days during the winter>
Also I am feeding them chicken and prawns at the moment because they are refusing to eat they're pellets or anything else. I heard your supposed to feed them fruit and veg as well?
<Not 'as well'. Try "Instead of." None of the Emydid turtles (Sliders, cooters, map turtles and even - irony here - the Chicken turtles) eat chicken OR prawns. Neither are part of their natural diet and neither are
good for them. So STOP! Right now.>
But they wont... how can I get them to eat different things?
I've tried cooking veg with the chicken but its not worked.
<here's what do: First. Stop feeding them for a week. Seven days. NO food. Then, each day, put them in a shallow bowl of luke warm water with just two or three Repto-min food sticks or 6 or 7 standard Koi Pellets. If they ignore the food or don't eat after 15 minutes, take them out and put them back in their regular tank. Each day, new fresh water in the shallow bowl with a very few pieces of food. Eventually .. somewhere between 3 days and two months .. they'll eat.>
<Are you listening?>
<Pay attention to this:>
<DO NOT GIVE IN. Don't feel sorry for them, don't feel like they're
starving, don't feel like 'just a tiny bit' of chicken won't hurt ..... DO NOT GIVE IN OR GIVE UP!!!!!!!!!>
<The one who hold out the longest is the one in charge of this relationship -- and that's supposed to be YOU, OK?>
Also I always believed they were male and female due the fact 'she' is larger and longer claws, they also shake each others claws in each others faces (which I've heard is the mating ritual) and many times I've seen them mating with his penis out. Tonight though I looked over and he was chasing and biting what looked like 'her' penis?!! I know it was definitely her because they both do look different. I am so confused?!
<Well if one of the females has a penis .. you're not the ONLY one confused .. think how confused SHE is!!!>
<The males have long claws and the females do not. Males also have much thicker tails at the base where it connects to the shell, while the females' tails are much more slender. Sliders reach sexual maturity with
size, not age but males become mature, generally, around 4 years and females at 6 years (assuming normal growth)>
Last thing is how do you know they are happy?
<Turtles have much simpler lives than people do, Nadine. They show their happiness by being healthy and active. By thriving. If they're active and eating, basking and swimming, growing and maturing, if their environment is clean and big enough, if their shells are hard and their eyes are clear ... then it's a sure bet that they're happy!>
Sorry for the long winded email just wanted to make sure im doing everything right.
<Long winded??? Not even close!! It was a nice letter and I hope I helped!>
Thanks x


Sexing Yellow Bellied Sliders 10/22/05
I got two yellow bellied sliders about a year ago. One is larger than the other and has longer nails. Which one is male or female?
< Usually the female is larger with shorter nails and a shorter tail.>
Also the smaller has seemed to be sleeping a lot is there an explanation for that?
< Could be sick. The larger turtle is dominating the tank and the smaller one is not getting the nutrition and care it needs.>
And last how can you tell if a yellow bellied slider is pregnant?
< Females are large, fat and have an incredible appetite. Especially in the spring time when things warm up. Though this is not always certain, adult pairs will usually produce eggs.-Chuck>

To: Part 2, Part 3

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