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FAQs About Red Ear Slider Turtles 4  

Related Articles: The Care and Keeping of the Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans by Darrel Barton, Red Ear Sliders, Turtles, Amphibians, Red Eared Slider Care, Shell Rot in Turtles,

Related FAQs: Sliders 1, RESliders 2, RESliders 3, RESliders 5,
Red Eared Slider Identification, RES Behavior, RES Compatibility, RES Selection, RES Systems, RES Feeding, RES Disease, RES Reproduction, Turtles in General: Turtles, Turtle Identification, Turtle Behavior, Turtle Compatibility, Turtle Selection, Turtle Systems, Turtle Feeding, Turtle Disease, Turtle Disease 2, Shell Rot, Turtle Reproduction, Amphibians, Other Reptiles,

Questions about my RES     1/30/20
Hey Crew, I have a female RES, have had her for 19 years.
<Decent age!>
She's always been very active, a super eater, and basker.
But about 2 months ago, out of nowhere, she stopped eating, swimming much, and never gets up on her basking platform. She's in a 30 gallon tank that's about 78 degrees, has both lights required, and the water is kept clean.
<Understood. As a rule, leaving the water at room temperature, while providing a warm basking light (together with the UV-B lamp) is recommended. While I doubt the water is dangerously warm, turtles do need to be able to cool down as well as warm up. It's how they thermoregulate.>
I took her to the vet and she took x-rays to see if she was producing eggs, she wasn't. Her lungs were clear and there were no signs of any abnormalities. A blood test was also taken. No signs of infection or
deficiencies. The only thing that came back a little elevated was parasites. So, I administered 3 doses of anti-parasitic medication, by mouth, 3 days in a row. That was a trip!!
<I bet.>
No improvement.
<Oh dear.>
Previous to this, maybe 6 months ago, she had an infection on her neck. The vet cleaned it and gave her antibiotic shots, several of them, and Topsy healed up very well. She was still eating and swimming during her treatments.
Right before she stopped eating, my other turtle, named Taxi, who lives in a tank next to Topsy, but on a stand, Topsy's tank is on the floor, escaped from his tank and fell into Topsy's. He hit the light, knocked it into the water, and the bulb exploded. Then, I assume he went after Topsy for a date night and she bit the heck out of him.
<Yikes. Takes me back to be college days...>
I put him back in his tank and he healed up just fine. Did she maybe get an electric shock that damaged her insides or something? Taxi didn't act normal for a while after this either, but eventually got back to his normal self.
<For sure an electric shock or even stress could have caused some sort of problem, but a dangerous shock would be apparent immediately, and if she was still alive thereafter, it would seem to rule out the light bulb incident. Stress from the amorous encounter might put a turtle off eating for a day or two, but really, these animals aren't especially smart or sensitive, so it's not like PTSD is a thing for them. So if the turtle appears otherwise uninjured, I'd tend to rule out psychological stress.>
That's when Topsy stopped eating, shortly after this incident. She hasn't had a single crumb of food for over 2 months. The other day I bought Flukers Repta boost and have given her two doses. She spit most of the first dose out, the second I just spilled into her water. I figured she's gonna swallow some it that way; I didn't want to stress her too much.
Anyway, today, I gave her another small dose, by mouth, which she swallowed, thank you Lord! This stuff is supposed to give her energy and an increased appetite, right?
<Possibly. None of these appetite enhancers works miracles, and won't convince an ailing reptile to eat food if it physically can't.>
Also, today, I noticed her mouth is red, like it would be her upper lip, not inside, but where her upper jaw meets her lower jaw. Just on one side, down from her nostrils to the corner of her mouth. Could that be a symptom of disease or a bruise from trying to get her to open her mouth to squirt the Repta boost in.
<Either. A bruise is possible, but should heal quickly enough if it isn't infected (so clean if red inflammation is better than dead white patches or odorous bacterial discharge). Throat infections do happen in reptiles, particularly ones going towards the lungs (what are called Respiratory Tract Infections) but these are commonly associated with additional symptoms such as wheezing, watery eyes, even in serious cases a sloshy sound inside the lungs.>
I love her so much and don't know what to do next. I've visited every website I can find and no one gives me substantial advice on what could be wrong.
I sure hope you can help me. This is costing me a fortune, as well. The last appt. at the vet was nearly $300 and now she wants me to go to an exotic pet specialist. Yikes! I'm not a Rockefeller! I want to do what I can to help this sweetie, but money is an issue.
<I do sympathise, and to some degree this has always been a problem with reptiles. They're comparatively cheap to buy and feed compared with mammal pets like dogs and cats, but vet bills can be similarly expensive. On top of that, the pool of vets out there with the skills to treat reptiles is often smaller and so more difficult to access, making reptile healthcare doubly expensive. The flip side of course is that kept properly reptiles tend to be remarkably disease-free, perhaps because they're often kept singly and away from any other reptile that might pass on a parasite or pathogen, something that can't be said about cats and dogs that encounter other cats and dogs all the time.>
What say you, Crew!!??
<My instinct here is that if the turtle hasn't eaten in two months, diddling around with food additives is probably pointless. Offer choice food items every day, but remove if uneaten. Force feeding is likely a
stress factor and probably does more harm than good. Your care hitherto must have been basically sound, because 19 years isn't a bad innings for a Red Ear Slider -- certainly a lot better than most of the pet store hatchlings can expect -- even if they can and do live 20-30 years under good conditions. I'd perhaps brace myself for one more trip to the vet, because I'm wondering if an intestinal blockage might be an issue, but beyond that, there's nothing obvious from what you've said that could explain the situation. I would optimise living conditions though. I'd remove the heater from the water, if used, and I'd double check the UV-B lamp especially is not life-expired (most have a 6-12 month useful lifespan). Wild turtles will go months without food during winter, so I don't think starvation is an imminent threat, but it's hard to say really.>
Thanks so much for any advice you can give me!
Sincerely, Catherine
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Questions about my RES      2/1/20

Thx Neale, but wouldn't an intestinal blockage show up on an X-ray.
<Does rather depend if the vet was looking for one. For sure something like a pebble would be obvious. But constipation might not be so obvious, and other tests would be used.>
The vet took two pictures one from below and one from the side. Also I turn my heat way down at night when I go to bed so would 65 to 68 degrees be too cold 4 her tank water? Or should I just turn the heater down to 70 degrees?
What do you suggest?
<Room temperature water is pretty much perfect. I think setting the heater to 22C/72F as a backstop would be fine, but the main thing is that the water is cooler than the hot spot in the vivarium. Cheers, Neale.>

Red eared slider stopped growing      9/1/19
A relative found a little red eared slider a few years ago on a riverbank and thought he didn't look too good, so he rescued him.
<Not recommended, but understandable.>
(We live in Trinidad .... an island in the Caribbean).
We've had him for over 2 years and he is 2 inches.
<Pretty small, yes.>
He eats pellets, lettuce, and occasionally, some mosquito larvae. His shell is well formed, no abnormalities or deformities, he basks regularly and his behavior and energy levels seem pretty normal.
My son thinks he's a mutation or some species of pygmy turtle
<Doesn't sound impossible to me. The thing with reptiles is that they grow their entire lives, but the rate at which they grow declines with time. If they don't prosper for the first two or three years, a Red Ear Slider may grow a bit for the rest of its life, but at a steadily diminishing rated, so it'll never catch up with those Red Ears of the same age but with a more fortunate start to their lives. So yes, bad genes can be a cause, but bad luck can be a major factor too.>
His tank is pretty small but that will improve when we move out of our apartment within the next year.
<Stunting can happen with some animals, but not Red Ear Sliders, which tend to outgrow small tanks rather than get stunted. That said, improving living conditions is always a worthwhile step.>
Do you think something is wrong with him?
<See above. Hope this helps! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Red eared slider stopped growing    9/2/19

Thank you, I guess we’re stuck with a permanently extra cute little guy ...
when we first got him the kids named him Token as he was the size of a coin.
<That's cute.>
His name evolved into Tokapee ... he is just soooo cute ... we will give him as happy a life as we possibly can ... he is very loved.
<Sounds like he's landed on his feet. Hopefully he'll provide your family with entertainment for many years to come.>
Thanks again
<You are most welcome. Neale.>

27+ year old RES.      1/19/14
I have a male Red Eared Slider that I've had for going on 25 years now, he was probably 3-5 years old when I got him, not to sure. I know he's between 27 and 35 years of age.
<A fair age indeed!>
He's been a real trooper thus far. He recently seams to be unhappy, trying to bite at me more then normal, and quicker to jump off his basking pad when I enter the room; not normal.
I know he's healthy and his habitat is well taken care of, if it wasn't I don't think he'd still be here.
<True to a degree, but do bear in mind that underlying problems with turtles can take a long time to manifest themselves. So keep an open mind.>
Anyway, I can not find much on the internet in the way of care for a RES of his age in captivity.
<Pretty much consistent across their lifespan, the only big change being that the older the turtle gets, the more plant material it should be eating relative to high protein or meaty treats.>
I want to insure him a happy and healthy long life, just a little concerned at the moment with his slight mood change. Things I have done so far; went through and thoroughly cleaned his habitat, gave him some new plants, gravel, basking area and treated him to some live food.
<Not goldfish, I hope! Truly, the risk of introducing parasites via live feeder fish is too great. On the other hand, the occasional earthworm won't do any harm.>
He seams a bit more happy since this was done. He lives in a 75gal aquarium right now, I am thinking about switching him to a 125gal formed pond. He's always lived inside, takes the occasional stroll around the house in the winter and gets his outside time in the summer. Do you have any suggestions for care of a RES of his age in captivity?
<Not really. If it's worked so far, then carry on. A trip to the vet is a good idea if you're worried he's very out of sorts, but otherwise this turtle sounds well cared for.>
Or should I continue as I have for the last 20 years and just monitor him closely for a bit? Thanks for any and all input.
<Have cc'ed our turtle guru Darrel in case he has anything to add. Cheers, Neale.>

RES turtle compatibility and care questions 8/14/10
Hi this is Sonal from Mumbai...
<Hi Sonal,>
I have 2 res turtles now..{male-female pair}
about their age, both of them r less than a year.. she is younger to him by 3 months..
my male turtle acts as if he wants to scratch the face out of my female turtle..
She's larger than he is..he wiggles his finger nails towards her cheeks(I mean the area near her eyes) with both his hands.. it looks as if she's getting hurt by this action.. she takes her head inside her shell n closes her eyes in the beginning... n later on she comes out n pushes him away..
but just a few days earlier found HER doing the same thing, the same way he was doing... I don't understand what kind of behavior is this n what for??
[are they getting matured or something..or is it related to the mating thing!!]
I would really appreciate if you could tell me more about this behavior..(so that I understand them better..)
also could u tell me about how to keep their shell clean,'coz sometimes it really stinks..[I clean the tank everyday..]
Thanks a lot for your help..'coz every time I mail u,u ppl always help..
<Sonal, we'd be happy to answer your questions, but can you first please write us back and give us some additional information?>
<First, about your tank set-up and care? i.e.:
1) # gallons of your tank
2) what type of heating and lighting bulbs you are using
3) what, if anything, you're providing for a basking platform
4) temperature of air above the basking platform
5) temperature of water
6) what, if any, type of filtration you're using
7) what you're feeding your turtles.>
<Next, sexual maturity is best determined by size, not actual age. Can you measure the length of each of your turtles' top shells? Hold a straight edge ruler above their top shell; don't follow the curve of their shell.)
<Also, re: shell - Can you provide us more information about your turtle's shell? i.e. Are any parts of the shell soft, either underneath or on top? Are there any whitish patches anywhere? Is it in any other way discolored?>
<Also, when you write back, can you please also do us a favor and replace your *txt* words with the proper full words and make complete sentences (capitalize 1st letter of sentence, use a period at end of sentences, spaces between sentences, etc.) We ask this because these FAQs get stored and become part of the website's *reference library*. Using properly spelled whole words and complete sentences makes it easier for others to later search for and find this information on our website, as people typically use whole words and/or phrases to conduct their searches.>
Thanks a ton..
<Thank you, Sonal. Please write back and give us more specifics about your turtles, your care and your tank set up so we can better help you and answer your questions.>
<Wet Web Media crew>

Re RES Turtle compatibility, shell concerns and general care 8/18/10
Hi.. Sonal again..
<Hi, Sonal, this is Sue here with you.>
I am sending you photographs of my tank so that you get a better idea about it. The first photograph shows the amount of water (I don't know how to measure it in gallons!) & the other one shows the basking area.
<Thanks for sending us photos, Sonal! It's very helpful to have photos along with the description.>
Tank set-up and care:
<Thank you for also writing back with additional information about your set-up. This really helps us to better advise you. From your responses, I see what some of your problems might be. I'll briefly comment on each of these items below in this email, and then give you more complete feedback and recommendations in the original email you sent which had your actual questions and concerns.>
1) # gallons of your tank= approx 3 liters
<3 liters is approximately equivalent to under 1 (U.S.) gallon. If this is true, Sonal, this is WAY too small a tank for even ONE turtle. It's one of, if not THE main reason why your two turtles are having problems getting along. It's also not good for other reasons. See more about this at the end.>
2) What type of heating and lighting bulbs you are using = I don't use any type of heating, direct sunlight from the window (but since its rainy season here, there's no sunlight).
<Neither of these are adequate. Turtles need basking heat for their bodies to function properly, and they need regular, consistent UVB light for their shell and bone health. You're going to need to make some changes here right away.>
3) What, if anything, you're providing for a basking platform = shown in the picture.
<A couple of questions for you here -- can you write back and tell me --
'¢ Can both of your turtles get up on this rock without any difficulty?
'¢ How often do both of them bask on it? (i.e., every day, every other day??)
'¢ How many hours each day are they out basking on it?>
4) Temperature of air above the basking platform = normal room temperature about 25 degrees C (equivalent to 77 degrees F).
<Nowhere near warm enough. Turtles require much warmer basking heat than 25 degrees C. Unlike us, their bodies/organs rely on the external temperature of the air to function properly, including properly digesting their food. See more about this below.>
5) Temperature of water = normal room temperature (sometimes I add lukewarm water, especially in the winters)
<Turtles like cool water (this is what encourages them to get out to bask which they need to do), so this part is fine, assuming your normal room temperature is around 20-22 degrees C (68-72 degrees F). However, I'm concerned that your aquarium is located next to a window. More on this at the end.>
6) What, if any, type of filtration you're using = I clean the tank every day -- no filtration.
<Depending on how/what you're doing to keep the water clean, this may or may not be adequate -- especially given how little water is in your tank. The less amount of water there is, the more concentrated and toxic it becomes from food, poop and other debris left in it until your next cleaning.>
7) What you're feeding your turtles = a little amount of the turtle food, dried prawns and some small balls of wheat dough (its their favorite), boiled egg white (another favorite), coriander leaves (only the male turtle eats), cabbage leaves, sometimes boiled chicken or fish pieces, and blood worms (very occasionally).
<This is not a healthy diet for your turtles, and likely another part of the problem you're having. If not already, they will become malnourished and ill if you continue to give them this type of food. This also needs to be corrected right away.>
size: male: 8cm (approx. 3 in.) in length and 6.5cm (approx. 2 ½ in.) in breadth
female: 9 cm (approx. 3 ½ in.) and 7.5cm (approx. 3 in.) respectively
<To your original question, neither are sexually mature yet. Males typically start reaching sexual maturity when their top shell (carapace) length is about 4'; females start to reach maturity a little later than males, at around 6' long. See later on below how this relates to your question about their behaviors toward each other.>
The female turtle's shell was a little soft (some parts); now I think its fine, but still not as strong as that of my male turtle. No other problems with the shell.
<A shell that has been, and still is, soft in spots is a sign that your turtle has a metabolic illness, specifically a calcium deficiency that's causing her body to instead have to remove calcium that's already stored in her shell and bones in order to perform its other functions. The shells and bones then start to become soft from the loss of calcium. This condition (as well as the diet/environmental factors that caused it) needs to be addressed right away, otherwise it can lead to much more serious illness and even death.>
Thank you.
<Your welcome, Sonal. Please read my responses now to the questions and concerns you sent us in your original email.>
Hi this is Sonal from Mumbai...
I have 2 RES (red-eared slider) turtles now (male-female pair). About their age, both of them are less than a year. She is younger than him by 3 months. My male turtle acts as if he wants to scratch the face out of my female turtle. She's larger than he is. He wiggles his finger nails towards her cheeks (I mean the area near her eyes) with both his hands. It looks as if she's getting hurt by this action. She takes her head inside her shell and closes her eyes in the beginning. And later on she comes out and pushes him away. But just a few days earlier, I found HER doing the same thing, the same way he was doing. I don't understand what kind of behavior is this, and what for?? Are they getting mature or something? Or is it related to the mating thing!! I would really appreciate if you could tell me more about this behavior (so that I understand them better).
<As I mentioned above, both of your turtles are still on the small side to be displaying mating behaviors. And, they're also still on the small side yet to know for sure what sex they really are. From their tail sizes it does appear your larger one might be a female, but it could also be the angle of your camera so I can't tell for sure. Also, the more accurate way to know is by looking UNDER their tails. So -- either one of two things are happening:
1. You DO in fact have a male and a female. If this is the case, as you might expect with the male species (ha!), males sometimes get an early start, and can exhibit this behavior toward females before either one is sexually mature. What also happens sometimes is that mating behavior leads to aggression. This typically happens when either:
'¢ the male is trying to mate with an immature female (and the female becomes agitated and aggressive in response) or --
'¢ when the male gets more and more aggressive trying to *persuade* the female, hoping that his repeated advances will eventually work -- again, not much different than in the human species! Normally, in nature the male wouldn't likely put this much *pressure* on one female, as he would have other females to try to pursue.
2. It's also possible that you actually have 2 males and they're growing at different rates. It often happens that 1 turtle becomes the dominant one, gets more of the food, and grows faster. If this is the case, sometimes, for whatever reason, when no female is around, males will exhibit this behavior with each other. Because males often compete with one another, each of them may also be trying to assert their dominance toward one another, and becoming aggressive with each other, particularly since you have them in such close confines with each other. Which leads me to --- >
<What's even further adding to the problem of aggression in either case above is that your tank is WAY too small. It's even too small for just one of your turtles. And for 2 turtles, it's not allowing them anywhere to go to hang out by themselves and escape from one another as they would normally be able to do in nature. Having to live/exist almost on top of each other as they are now is causing both of them a LOT of stress -- REGARDLESS of what sex they are. By nature, they prefer being alone. They also like to be able to swim and move freely about, not just sit in the water, especially right next to other turtles.>
<So -- you need to act on this now before one of them becomes seriously injured. Especially given that one of your turtles is already getting hurt by your other turtle's actions. You have a couple of choices here. Either:
1. Separate them in two different tanks (that are both much larger than the one you have now -- see the end of this message for how to determine what size you need). Keep in mind that if one of them is a female, you may need to keep her in a separate tank until she is big enough/mature enough to mate with him, which could be at least 2 or more years away still!
2. Put them in an even LARGER enclosure with separate basking areas and hidden areas to get away from, and out of sight of the other. Some pet stores even sell partitions that you can place in a tank. This option would be less expensive for you than buying 2 tanks and set-ups. But it DOES require you to get a much larger tank than Option 1. And unless you do use a partition, this option also may not work. If it doesn't, you'll need to consider other options, including getting another (mature) female turtle to take the *pressure* off the one (again, if you DO in fact have a male and female right now), or to separate the two of them into 2 tanks (back to the 1st option).>
Also, could you tell me how to keep their shells clean, because sometimes they really stink. I clean the tank everyday.
< A healthy shell should be hard and have no odor to it at all. The odor is a sign that there might be some sort of infection brewing. Fungus and bacteria often seize the opportunity to take advantage of a shell that's debilitated. You mentioned in your 2nd email above that one of your turtle's has had/still has some soft spots on it. Soft shell is one of the conditions that can cause a shell to deteriorate and become more susceptible to infection. And, as I noted above, soft shell in and of itself, can lead to much more serious illness. So both of these conditions need to be addressed immediately (as well as the dietary and environmental factors that caused them).>
<Things that cause a turtle's shell to slowly deteriorate and soften (otherwise known as *Soft shell*), include improper diet/lack of calcium in the diet (as I described above), and not enough UVA and UVB lighting (what you get from the sun or from an artificial light source). UVA and UVB light helps turtles make the vitamins they need for their shell and bone health. Soft shell is also called Metabolic Bone Disease and left untreated becomes 100% fatal.>
<Causes of shell rot/infections include inadequate diet, improper lighting and heating temperatures (both basking and water), and poor water quality.>
<So here is what you need to do right away:
1. Remove (and separate) both of your turtles from your tank and place them each in a separate warm, dry container. Bacteria and fungus thrive in warm, wet environments and will seize the opportunity to take over and make an already debilitated turtle even sicker. You MUST provide them with a heat source (to keep air around 85-87 degrees F or about 30 degrees C), and you also MUST provide them with both a UVA AND especially a UVB source. They should remain in this environment around the clock except for putting each of them in a shallow container of water each day to eat, drink and poop. Below is a link to an article that explains exactly how to do this.
2. Keep your turtles in this environment for the amount of time specified under the 'Soft Shell' section of this guide, and until you make the needed changes to their regular living environment.
3. In particular, carefully read over the sections of this article describing Isolation, Soft Shell, and Notes 1 (about proper diet) and Notes 2 (about proper lighting).
4. Follow the treatment steps listed under the Soft Shell section of this same guide, which include isolation (in #1 above) and calcium treatments. Ideally, it would be best if you could find a herp or reptile vet to administer the calcium to your female turtle in an injectible form. Failing this, besides the other sources mentioned in the link above, I have had good success with Rep-Cal Phosphorous-Free Calcium with Vitamin D. It comes in a powder form. I add a pinch of it to pellets that have been pre-softened in a small amount of water.
5. Read the following additional link, compare each step of your care to the guidelines listed here, and make the necessary adjustments.
6. In particular, fix the things that are most likely causing your turtles to have shell problems and calcium deficiencies:
1. Correct the diet you're feeding them. This is going to come as bad news to your turtles, but you need to stop feeding them wheat dough, boiled egg white, dried prawns, chicken, etc.! None of these foods are part of their natural diet, and it's not providing them with the correct balance of vitamins and nutrients they need. At least 50% of your turtle's diet, even at this young age, should be vegetarian and greens based; as adults that bumps up to 75%. The items listed below are ALL you need to feed them! (The diet is actually the easiest part!):
* A high quality pellet such as ReptoMin or a high quality Koi pellet. Especially right now I'd recommend soaking them in water until they soften, then adding a pinch of calcium powder as mentioned above and mix in well. (Note: only feed them pellets once every OTHER day, and ONLY as much as each of them will eat in 5-10 minutes. One of the most common mistakes people make with turtles is to overfeed. This can also lead to diseases).
* An earthworm (No bloodworms) every week or so for some additional Vitamin A which they also need.
* If you want to add some fiber and give them something to munch on in between feedings, rather than cabbage leaves or coriander; substitute dandelion leaves (some grocery stores actually carry this), red leaf and curly green leaf lettuces (no iceberg lettuce, though). What I did was buy a clip with a suction cup from my pet store to hold the greens in place so they stay in one place and are easier to clean up. Just replace with fresh greens as needed.
Now, it's very possible your turtles are not going to be *thrilled* with this change -- as most anyone wouldn't be on Day #1 of a *Diet*! So don't get concerned if you don't see them rushing to eat these things right away. Just give them time, they'll adjust. If you're still having difficulty getting them to switch over in the next couple of weeks, write back and I can give you some additional tips. Just make sure they get the calcium they need right now, though.
2. Provide correct basking temperature and basking conditions. It is essential that your turtles spend several hours each day basking -- and in the right conditions. Your turtles need:
* Easy access to a basking area. If they're having trouble climbing onto the basking area you're providing, you'll need to switch this with something else. The one I use and would recommend is the Zoo Med floating turtle dock. It comes in different sizes.
* Proper water and air temperatures: a CLEAR choice between cool water and warm air. This is what encourages them to get out to bask every day as they should. They should be spending several hours each day out of the water completely drying off, heating up, and soaking in the UVB rays.
* A heat bulb above their basking area. The air above your turtles' basking areas needs to be MUCH warmer than what you're currently providing. It should be around 88-90 degrees F (31-32 degrees C). Unlike us, turtles need to get this heat from outside their bodies to properly digest their food. Otherwise it will rot in their stomach and eventually cause them to become seriously ill.
* A UVB light bulb, also above their basking area (see below).
3. Fix the lighting conditions: Sunlight through a window pane or screen is not adequate for UVA/UVB. And direct sunlight into a tank runs the risk of making the air too hot and baking them. Given you live in a seasonal climate and can't have them exposed to direct sunlight outside all year long, either, it's best then to provide them with a good quality artificial UVB light that will give them a consistent source of UVA/UVB all year long (UVB automatically provides UVA but not the other way around). This light needs to be placed directly above their basking area. More is written about this in the care link above.
4. Fix any water quality issues. You didn't mention exactly how you're keeping the water clean, but here are some suggestions:
* Turtles are much messier than fish and require even better filtration than they do. I would highly advise you to get a very good mechanical filter that is rated several times more than the amount of water in your tank.
* Water changes can be cut back to 50% water changes every week once your filter gets established (after about a month or so).
* Periodically test your water for ammonium and nitrite before your water changes.
* Suction up/vacuum up food and poop immediately after they're done; don't let it sit around until your water change.
* Until you get a filter, consider feeding your turtles in a separate container of shallow water. This will help cut back on the waste in the water.>
<Some other things I would strongly recommend:
* Do not place your turtles' tanks next to a window. Besides the concern about heat and lighting fluctuations, there is also the risk in the wintertime of your turtles getting exposed to drafts in the air. This is one of the main causes of turtles coming down with respiratory infections, which can also become serious and often fatal. I would instead place their tanks in an interior part of the room or some place where they won't be exposed to cool air drafts.
* As I mentioned above, your current tank size is much too small, even for just one turtle. Turtles like to have lots of room (especially surface area more than depth) to swim about. As I noted above, there are several problems with a small enclosure. Small amounts of water fluctuate much more with outside air temperatures, making it much harder to control, regulate, and keep water temperature within a constant range. It also makes it much harder to maintain good water quality because leftover food and waste is much more toxic in smaller amounts of water. The general rule on size of tanks for turtles is 10 gallons (38 liters) per 1 inch (2 ½ cm.) of shell length. Right now each of your turtles should be in approximately a 30 gallon or 114 liter tank. Eventually, they will need a MUCH larger tank. If in fact you do have a female, she can grow to as much as 12 inches (30 cm.) long; males also can get large, up to around 10 inches (25 cm.) The good news is that *larger* doesn't have to mean expensive. The link above that I gave you to the care guide describes other options for enclosures that don't cost a lot of money.>
Thanks a lot for your help -- because every time I mail you, you people always help.
<I hope we helped again this time, Sonal! Please write back and let us know how things are going.>
Thanks a ton.
<You're welcome!>

Red Eared Slider, fdg.... gen. - 6/12/10
Dear Sir or Madam,
I recently found a red eared slider in my garden in Dubai, he was being attacked by some myna birds when I found him. He is male (long claws and tail), approx 4-5" and looks fairly healthy. He has either been dropped by a bird or dumped by some irresponsible owners. I took a roasting tray (30cm x 20cm x 10cm) and filled it with water then built some large gravel around it so he can easily climb in and out and put it on the patio enclosed by some chairs (on their side) and covered with a towel to provide shade but with a small sunny spot on the patio on one side. I fed him some raw prawns which he very quickly ripped apart and ate. After a trip to the vet I got him some terrapin pellet food, but he doesn't seem too keen on that.
<Children aren't wild about vegetables, and will happily gorge themselves on chocolate. But which is best for them? Prawns are a fine treat maybe once a week, but they are nutritionally not very useful. Among other things they contain thiaminase, which means the more you use them, the less vitamin B1 the terrapin will have in its body. Long term that causes serious problems. Koi pellets are a good staple, and better treats would include salad greens and small pieces of white fish fillet like tilapia.>
He is quite active, he will lie in the water putting his head up occasionally for air and looks as though he is sleeping. Then sometimes he'll climb out and have a wander around, he likes to bask in the sun after the sprinklers have been on (I think perhaps because the patio is then a bit wet) and he doesn't seem to object too much to being handled (we have to move him every day to replace his water as we do not have a filter yet).
So I wanted to ask:
1) Will he be okay in the enclosure I have made for him? I cannot get a pond built for a few weeks as I need permission from my landlord.
Otherwise I will have to spend a lot of money on a tank setup as a temporary measure. The outside temperature in Dubai currently averages low 27 C (80 F) degrees and high 42 C (107 F)
<Air temperature in Dubai will be fine. Indeed, the water will need to be quite cool so he doesn't overheat, and he'll likely bask in the sunshine and then cool down in the water, so something that shades the water will be handy. The size of the tank isn't adequate though. Do read:
2) How much of his diet should be pellet food can he survive on just prawns (well perhaps varied raw fish)? and how often would you expect a terrapin this size to eat?
<Prawns should be only very occasional treats. Again, read those articles for tips on feeding.>
3) Are they social animals?
Does he require company and if I get another terrapin should it be the same size as him?
<Least of your problems now, and indeed, mixing them in small enclosures is likely to end up with aggression. Males are somewhat aggressive.>
Our pet store only seem to sell babies (about 1-2") Should I get male or females to keep him company?
Lastly should terrapins be neutered if they are kept in mixed groups?
<No. But females will need access to dry sand or coconut fibre to lay their eggs in, otherwise they become egg bound. You can throw the eggs away after they're laid. But you do have to make sure females can lay their eggs.>
Many thanks for your advice and assistance,
Kind regards,
<Cheers, Neale.>

RES... something -- 06/09/10
Hi (again!)
You probably haven't even seen the other email I forwarded you last night, and in the meantime I checked this morning and already have a new one! (By the way, I DID reply to one question yesterday on my own!) As far as the question below, though, I know you say NEVER release a turtle back into the wild, but since this turtle was JUST found and was likely trying to dig a spot to lay eggs, should I suggest she take it back to the same spot ASAP or should I suggest she try and find a local rescue group to take it in?
It looks like she has no intention of keeping it. Also, any idea of why the turtle might have been covered in ants? Is this normal for a wild turtle or is it a sign of a possible disease?
Thanks D!
I was at the park today and we found a big red ear slider on land covered in ants trying to dig. we took it home and washed it off with the water hose. its covered in moss should I clean it then release it where I found it or just release it?i was just wondering because we have a red ear turtle and I wash him once a week a web site said that a clen turtle is a healthier turtle is this true?
Releasing a wild turtle, keeping turtles clean, RES beh. -- 06/9/10

<Hi Krystal, this is Sue here with you.>
I was at the park today and we found a big red ear slider on land covered in ants trying to dig. We took it home and washed it off with the water hose. It's covered in moss. Should I clean it then release it where I found it, or just release it?
<Normally, we recommend NEVER to release a turtle back into the wild even though we may have only had it a short time. However, because you just found yours today and it appears as though it's a "she" and was likely trying to dig a hole to lay eggs, I checked with another colleague of mine to get his opinion. He replied that it's ok to release within a day or two... if she appears to be in good health and has had no contact with other turtles. This is to avoid the potential of her harming other creatures she will come in contact with, since she could be carrying new
types of germs on her which are foreign to that environment.>
<I would recommend that rather than clean her, you just hose her down as you did, and try and release her as close as possible to the spot where you found her. Turtles carefully choose spots to lay eggs, and the spot where
you found her is apparently the one that she favored. It's very important that you release her as soon as possible, as it can be extremely harmful to prevent a female turtle from laying her eggs when she's ready.>
I was just wondering, because we have a red ear turtle and I wash him once a week. A website said that a clean turtle is a healthier turtle. Is this true?
<If you're referring to a turtle you find in the wild, it's more important to just leave them in the wild and not try to remove them from their habitat. This is the environment their bodies have become accustomed to.>
<In the case of your own turtle, it's not necessary to wash him weekly; however it is necessary to be extremely diligent about keeping his WATER extremely clean - including weekly water changes and cleaning up leftover
food and poop right after he's done eating so these things don't start decaying in the water. Please see the following care article which covers this and other great care suggestions in greater detail: >
<Good luck! Hope this helps.>

RES Turtles 5/10/10
I have a male and a female both seemingly healthy. I take them out of the tank and confine them in a small area of my dining room.
<Do be careful with this -- it is very easy for a small reptiles to crawl away under a cabinet, or to be snapped at by a pet cat or dog.>
The female appears to enjoy looking out the glass. How far can she see?
<Chelonians generally -- tortoises, terrapins and turtles -- have quite good, colour-sensitive eyesight, though sea turtles tend to be short-sighted in air as opposed to underwater. In other words, your terrapin can see at least as well as you can.>
Are they stressed at all when I do this?
<Unless habituated to it, no turtle, tortoise or terrapin likes being manhandled. But if such events are a regular part of their life they can become used to them, and if they don't mind being manhandled they won't show the usual signs of stress when being handled or moved about -- such as withdrawing their head or waving their limbs about frantically. However, cold or dry air won't do them any good.>
I wonder about their breathing and need of oxygen.
<Like all reptiles, your terrapins breathe air, and provided that air isn't cold, it doesn't matter whether they're inside their vivarium or out.>
This isn't addressed on any web site I can find.
How long do they hold their breath and how long can they float<The length of time terrapins can hold their breath for varies, but it is many minutes, depending on how active they are. While swimming about looking for food, Red-Ear Sliders will hold their breath for 10 minutes or so, but they can sleep underwater for periods of more than an hour. In the wild at least, given the right environmental conditions they can even hibernate underwater, staying submerged for several weeks. It should be noted however that vivaria and garden ponds do not provide the right conditions for underwater hibernation. Indeed, trying to get pet terrapins to hibernate usually results in dead terrapins. As for floating, they can float indefinitely, being able to hold quantities of air inside their throats that help provide buoyancy.>
Thank you
<Happy to help, Neale.>

General RES questions 5/8/10
Hi crew!
<Hiya - Darrel here tonight>
I've been reading through the various postings on your site and they are fantastically entertaining and informative, you have helped me on various things including today's departure of pecker after his fall :-(
<I read about that, Dale. On behalf of Bob Fenner, Neale Monks and the entire crew, we're sorry for your loss. The loss of any of our little friends leaves the world a slightly darker shade of gray.>
I have some questions, it seems you're busy so a speedy reply isn't necessary.
<Never that BUSY Dale, I'm just a poor typist. I typo 80wpm>
I live in Japan (originally Essex, England)
<Japan was originally Essex???? In England??>
'¦. where it seems Red Eared Sliders are widely kept for a short period and then thrown out, no one seems to really know how to care for them,
<OUCH!! All the sadder that they're among the easiest of all pets to provide and care for>
'¦. but anyways, in the attached picture you can see my setup(60x34x30cm) which admittedly is horribly small for three turtles but I was very uninformed at the time of purchase.
<No, you weren't, not it's not and it looks pretty cool!>
Is this too small for these 2(midori and LB)? At a guess (as they are still a little too small to tell) they are either both females or one of each (they seem to get on fantastically BTW)
<While Sliders, Cooters & the like can be a bit snappy from time to time, they are also excellent tank mates and can get along wonderfully in large groups. You have plenty of room here & I'll get into a bit more detail below>
They also have a large balcony(recently turtle-proofed) with a water source and places to hide/plenty of shade/sun. also the basking area in the pictured tank is just under half the size of the tank itself(kind of decking with a ramp)
<It looks pretty nice, but here are my comments: (A) the water is far deeper than it needs to be. Nothing WRONG with deep water, but it's not necessary for their well-being. Whenever you have a choice '¦ with turtles '¦ go for a larger surface area (length & width) and don't worry about more than 5 or 6 inches of depth. (B) Make sure that the lighting provides for their need for heat AND for UV. (C) The tank decorations are nice looking, but take a look with a critical eye '¦ any place a turtle could work his way into, under or behind and then get stuck? (D) If it was me, I'd rework the ramp area to allow for more dry-land area (unless there's more than I can see here) because they don't have a lot of room to really haul out of the water and bask in the warmth of the basking lamp.>
If not already too small, how long before you thing ill need a new tank?
<They could easily be double in size before I'd think about a new tank '¦ You could even think of adding one or two more at this point. By the time you need to think of a bigger tank, the next step up is probably more like an indoor pond than a tank (we'll talk about that another time)>
I finally found success with the live plants after many being ripped to pieces within a day but would really love to have some kind of fish in there(without the trial and error massacre) to liven it up a bit. do you know of any small durable and fast tank mates for them?
<The problem with fish & turtles is this: When you put it feeders and WANT them to be eaten, the turtles don't catch them and the feeders grow and become pets you have to worry about (I have 2 goldfish that were once 'feeders' that are now 7 inches long and the dominant animals in a 2500 gallon Koi pond containing 24 inch Koi) -- or the opposite, when you put in two fish you really DO care about and the turtles .. for whom fish is NOT a major dietary component .. suddenly get lucky. In other words, Dale '¦ there is no solution to this problem>
<A decent sized Plecostomus (common name 'Pleco' or 'Plecostomus') would hold it's own against turtles of this size, but it's an algae eating, bottom dwelling more-or-less boring fish.>
I was thinking small goldfish but have read that if eaten they are quite bad for the turtles.
<The problem is that feeder goldfish are kept in horribly unsanitary conditions and tend to be loaded with parasites. Fancy goldfish are usually much 'cleaner' but their elaborate tails & fins do make attractive targets for the turtles. So '¦ no.>
Ah and I am feeding them every other day a mix of pellets and they are nibbling the plants a little every now and then is this enough?
<Sounds good. I feed mine almost exclusively Koi pellets>
Thanks again for all your help
<You're welcome>

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!!!!!

RES... care, hlth. 1/26/10
Hey this is Sonal (I'm from India (Mumbai)..)
<Hiya - I'm Darrel from Redondo Beach, California!>
I'm a new owner of A FEMALE Red Eared Slider.
Its been only 7 days I have bought it home.. it must be about 3 months old ..there are a lot many questions I want to ask
<We have answers!>
she has some white spots behind her neck and somewhere on her hand, so what should I do to cure it???
<It could be shedding of dead skin or a fungal infection>
<Sonal -- two separate issues here, both fixed with some reading on your part. First, read this care sheet. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<No that you've read & understood THAT '¦ read about possible illnesses:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<Sunlight (or UVB), clean water and good food and all these problems will subside.>

Adopted Adult Read Eared Slider ....concerns 12/11/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I checked everywhere on your site for this but couldn't find this combination of things.
<It's all there '¦ we just haven't put the words together in the right sentences yet!>
for starters, I rescued (6 days ago) this turtle of 8 years from a woman who only had her in a small 24 gal tank outdoors (temps here are 40-70 now), no light, no filter, no basking area, no heater. she only fed her pellets and went up to two weeks without changing the water. Not only was the water black but the turtle was too. she was very pale, no colors. needless to say my first thought was to get this turtle as far away from this woman as possible. the woman said she was molting and would probably get larger soon. the only other information offered was that she laid eggs a few years ago.
<That's pretty bad care alright. Glad you stepped in>
This is my first turtle so I've been doing a lot of reading. Offering food, watching from a distance and removing everything after an hour.
she is 8" wide, 10" long
<That's a BIG girl>
First day- fresh water went well, she was very active. Pieces of scutes falling off. noticed her shell is deformed with her left side being rounder, more convex and her right side flatter and concave compared to the left side. the area of flatness is right around where a right shoulder blade would be if she had one. No appetite.
<That's fine - they don't have to eat every day>
Day two- hearty appetite for green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, carrots and boiled chicken. total amount offered/eaten was not more than the size of her head.
<That's about right. HOWEVER '¦ believe it or not, simple old Koi Pellets are a more balanced diet for her than all that stuff you took the time and trouble to provide for her.>
Day three- no appetite, water change, added a filter and a light. no room in this tank for a basking area of her size. More scutes
<She needs both a basking (heat) lamp and a UV-B lamp. A filter is good, but the thing to remember with a turtle is that you'll still need to do water changes! It's pretty unlikely that you can have a filter big enough to keep a turtle tank clean.>
<She does NOT need a heater in the water. If the tank is indoors, room temperature (67-73f) is fine -- and if the tank is outdoors, no heater will keep her warm enough during the winter anyway.>
Day four- no appetite, partial water change, mostly inactive. swam around more when light was off. started showing signs of color...yellow stripes rather than grayish white. ear getting brighter.
<Sounds like she was simply DIRTY in addition to everything else>
Day five- no appetite, mostly inactive, brighter colors, started to notice a pink color around her legs.
<The pink is NOT a good sign>
Day six- Partial water change, still no appetite, lots of yellow, area around her legs are very pink. More scutes.
<Pink is often a sign of Septicemia (the presence of bacteria in the blood) and if it is - that is a condition that requires veterinary care.>
is the no eating for four or more days normal? Maybe she had too many veggies and greens for her first time?
<Many things. First, a healthy turtle can and will go weeks without eating. For example, if her metabolism is slow due to cold or cool conditions (lack of basking, etc.) her stomach is still full -- this too is not a healthy thing. Second, a sudden departure from her staple diet can cause metabolic upsets just like in people.>
Do I need to give her something to make her poop? Since I have the filter now, I can't tell if she is pooping.
<That's not our problem, don't worry about that>
Is the redness around her legs normal? I thought maybe it could be because of the light since she's never had one. Maybe circulatory because she's been more inactive than active since the light and filter?
<The redness is not normal - HOWEVER '¦ there are so many "things" to deal with here it may be premature to decide what it all is.>
Do I need to be concerned with the deformity of her shell?
<NO. Not now. Besides, not a lot we could do for it if we really were concerned>
Do I need to worry that she has only laid eggs once in her 8 years and could she be bound up with eggs?
<VERY unlikely - and not on our top 10 things to worry about anyway>
Do I need to get a heater for her tank. I live in Florida and my indoor temp is 78 in the summer and never lower than 71 in the winter.
<No - not at all. In fact it hurts more than it helps. We need her to bask under heat and UV light and the reason she basks is to warm up. If the water is nice and toasty they choose not to bask and without basking they get sick>
I appreciate any help you can give. I'm trying to keep costs low and avoid going to a vet since I want to get her a larger tank as soon as possible.
I've been doing a lot of reading to find answers....but I think I found needless concerns. :-)
<OK - here's the deal: First, get her under sunlight. Basking. Even if you have to take her for a walk in the morning or evening. Just remember if you set her on the lawn, don't take your eyes off her for a second!! It seems, when we're not watching, they can run like horses and climb like lizards: One second they're sitting there staring at you, then you run inside to grab a drink and come back out -- and they're across the street in someone else's garden.>
<Before you buy a bigger tank, buy a UV-B lamp. I'd rather see her in a big Tupperware tub or cardboard carton under basking and UV light than in water. She can live very happily in a warm, dry environment and it may even help her recover from some of the poor care she's had.>
<You'll have a few challenges doing this. You STILL need the lamps on one side of the enclosure so that she can get under the lamp and also away from the lamp. One part lighted and another part shaded would be good. Make sure she can't climb out - the walls should be at least TWO TIMES her length.>
<Place her in her tank once each day for 15 minutes to allow her to drink, eat and poop. Offer her basic Koi pellets (they're a completely balanced diet for Sliders, too!) and no more that she'll eat in 5 minutes. You'll also see if she poops. Then, back in her warm & dry place.>
<this thorough drying-out will help her fight off any skin fungus, it will expose her to the UV light which she needs and hopefully it will spike her metabolism into eating, pooping, etc.>
<Now, as far as the scutes are concerned, if they're coming off as thin, finger nail-type transparent sheets and the shell underneath looks new and healthy, then this is a good thing. You can even scrub her off with a toothbrush and a tiny bit of dish soap (as long as you don't get it in her eyes, nose, mouth, etc.) and this will help in the process of cleaning her up.>
<When you DO get the bigger tank, remember we try to set things up to offer her a choice - wool water or warm basking - and then let her decide what she needs>
I love your site, thank you so much for it!
<Thank you!! We're kinda proud of it too!>
<General care: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Health concerns: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<Read them both!!!>

Red Eared Slider Question, care, compatibility 9/25/10
<Hi Helen, Sue here.>
I got two small red eared sliders about four months ago. They were about 2 inches in length at the time, and only grew about half an inch since then. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago one of them got sick, and would not go into the water or eat, and died.
<I'm sorry to hear.>
After this I got a better filtration system and a better water heater
<Contrary to what you may read on many other websites, water should not be heated. Their only heat source should be warm, dry land.>
<Warm, moist environments are the environments preferred by bacteria that will seize any opportunity to take advantage of a debilitated turtle.>
and basking light to make sure the temperature in the tank is warm enough.
<Actually, what turtles need is a CONTRAST between cool water (70-72 degrees F -- basically room temperature) and warm, dry land (88-90 degrees F). They need to be given a clear choice between the two. Unlike humans, they have to rely on the outside environment, not their own bodies, to regulate their internal body temperature and control various functions in their bodies such as the proper digestion of food. The sharp contrast between the two temperature ranges is what encourages them to move from one environment to the other -- i.e., when too warm, they'll jump in the water to cool off, and vice versa.>
<You didn't mention whether or not you also have a UVB light. Turtles must have a UVB light in addition to a heat or basking light for proper shell health and growth. The bulb must specify UVB on the package otherwise it's likely not a UVB bulb.>
The remaining turtle continued to flourish, but I was very sad over the loss of his tank mate, so I bought a new turtle- a small yellow bellied slider, about 2 inches in length. I have only had him for about five days, but I noticed he too was staying on the basking area and avoiding water. He will only eat when separated from the older turtle. This morning, however, I witnessed my older turtle sneak up behind the yellow
belly and CHOMP on his foot, and try to drag him underwater! Now I think he was avoiding the water out of fear of my other turtle. I have separated them, but I cannot really afford to buy ANOTHER set-up and keep two separate tanks. Do you think the aggressive behavior of the red eared is normal, and
will it continue? What should I do?
<First, before addressing the behavior/compatibility issue -- because you had one turtle become sick and die after only having him for a few months, I'd first suggest you read the following article below and compare the care you've been giving your turtles to what's recommended in this guide and make changes where indicated (it also discusses some options for lower cost alternatives!):
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Next, re: your question about aggressive behavior being normal or not, the behavior of turtles, like humans, is very individual, but yes, in general red eared sliders can be aggressive, especially when they're confined together in close quarters. However, it's always a risk whenever you put ANY two species of turtles together. Sometimes they'll get along just fine; other times one may seriously injure or even kill the other. Sometimes they'll get along great for years, then all of a sudden one starts attacking the other. That's why generally speaking, we recommend only one turtle per enclosure unless you're either keeping them in a very large enclosure or pond where they have separate spaces to bask and escape out of sight from one another as they would have in nature.>
<As far as what to do in your situation, I'd advise keeping them separated from each other right now for a couple of reasons. Beside the fact that one is acting aggressively toward the other, separating them will also help you determine for sure why your yellow bellied isn't going in the water. If you see him going in the water when he's alone, then most likely he didn't before because he was intimidated by your red eared slider. On the other hand, if he still avoids the water, then you'll know the reason is likely due to some other cause -- such as the water temperature being too warm as mentioned above, or a potential illness, etc.>
<The good news though, is that there ARE inexpensive ways to separate them, and without necessarily having to duplicate everything you have now! But first, in order to properly advise you, I'd need to have some additional information about your current set-up, including --
1) The size of your current enclosure (# of gallons and surface area dimensions)
2) The size tank (total gallons) and the number of gallons per hour (GPH) that your filter is rated for
3) What type of UVB light you're currently using (i.e. a tube vs. compact fluorescent bulb)>
Thank you for your help,
<You're welcome, Helen. Write back with more detailed information about your current set-up and I'll be better able to tell you what some of your options might be.>

red-eared slider care 9/12/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have 3 adult red-eared sliders in an outdoor pond. My pond is 1,600 gallons. We live in Chicago so our turtles live in the outdoor pond from late spring to early fall. Overall they are very healthy, very active, eat well (water lettuce when they are in the outdoor pond and food pellets when we bring them inside), they have a basking area, plenty of hiding spots in the water and a beach area for laying/burying their eggs.
<That sounds great. I wish someone would provide all that for ME!!>
The females bask more than the male but I feel they get a decent amount of basking time considering our crazy weather. Anyway, we keep a comfortable level of salt in the water for the general health of the frogs, Koi, goldfish and turtles. I give the turtles occasional warm salt baths, dry dock them and apply their shell ointment. Getting to my point, this summer I have noticed their shells appear dirtier, or like they have some algae on them. In researching shell rot, I really do not think that is what they have, there are no soft spots, etc. on their shells. I would think that the reasoning behind this could just be not enough basking time?
<Sort of - yes. But read on>
But, I can't make them bask and would hate to have to start some crazy ritual of dry docking them under a UV lamp and would also hate to keep them in their indoor pond year round. We love having them outside and they seem very happy.
<Age and size combine to make their shells a bit more porous as they age. The pits provide a perfect foothold for algae. If the turtles don't bask sufficiently to kill that algae, it grows a bit more.>
<In the wild, in the swaps of Florida, I've caught adult River Cooters (a close relative of the slider) with so much algae that they looked like a green furry helmet with legs -- and those turtles were in every way we could measure, perfectly healthy.>
I did read about sulfa dips and was thinking maybe I should be doing that as just a preventative measure but ideally I would rather just put a sulfa block in the water. The sulfa blocks they sell at the pet stores are for 20 gallons of water. If you feel that a sulfa block would be a good solution, do you know of anywhere to get really large sulfa blocks? I cannot seem to find much help/information on the sulfa block topic.
<They're only a solution for the guy who makes them so he can send his kids to a better school - they are of NO value to turtles, frogs, Koi, etc. None.>
Otherwise, would you recommend that I take a toothbrush and lightly clean their shells?
<That's exactly what I do. Take a tooth brush dipped in hydrogen peroxide and give the shell a gentle scrubbing. Rinse in fresh water and let them air dry for an hour. This may be a perfect thing to your yearly preparations for winter. Clear off the summer's accumulation of algae before coming indoors>
<There was a wonderful quote once that said something like "at the end of a well spent summer day you should smell like dirt." Maybe for a turtle its "At the end of a healthy summer, you should come home with a bit of algae growing on your back">
Is there some other illness that I am not aware of that would result in shells looking as I described?
I am afraid to just ignore it and have it lead to shell rot or something worse-any help would be so greatly appreciated
<I clean it off more for aesthetic reasons than anything else. I've neither experienced nor read about any negative consequences. In my mind, I THINK that it can't be good'¦ something growing on their back, pushing roots in between their scutes, etc. so it just seems like the "right" thing to do.>
-your website is a wonderful resource and I thank you for all your useful information
<Yer welcome>
-I have referenced it on many occasions!
<That's what we're here for>
<And something in return -- the turtles appear to be getting excellent care, so congrats to you as well!>

Re: RES turtles - Help finding more inexpensive care options 8/22/10
Hey Sue,
<Hi Sonal!>
Thanks for all the information.
<You're quite welcome.>
.. Wanted to ask you more about the heating and lighting bulbs. I can't afford to get a UVB lamp.
Could you tell me how much would it cost approx., and if there is any other option I can go for the cheaper option?
<The good news is that there are lower cost alternatives for ALL of your turtle's minimal care needs -- heating, UVB lighting, larger enclosure, filtration and food -- but -- the important thing here is -- they MUST get each of these needs met one way or the other. The care guide link below that I also sent you in the 1st email tells you how you can do all these things for less money. I'll briefly note some of the options below, but please do read through this guide for more complete information:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Turtles don't need a lot, but what they do need they absolutely must have or they will become seriously ill. And -- it is significantly more expensive (and harder) to treat a sick reptile than it is to treat other animals -- or than it is to prevent it in the first place.>
<Your turtles' shells have already shown some early signs of illness. Odor is a sign of some underlying rot or infection, soft shell is a sign of calcium deficiency. These will lead to even more serious problems unless the root cause of them is addressed. Almost every single disease a turtle has is the result of inadequate diet or improper living conditions, so prevention and correcting their diet and living conditions is where the focus of your care needs to be right now.>
<Before doing this, though, again, please first remove your turtles from their tank and follow the steps listed in the link here for warm, dry isolation:
The *isolation* container can simply be an empty plastic bin or a corrugated cardboard box with high sides so they can't escape (even though they haven't gone at each other for a while, I'd still keep them separated, even if it's just with a partition). As long as you keep them warm (85-87 degrees F (30 degrees C) or so -- normally this would be 88-90 F (31-32 degrees C) above their basking area in a tank, but lower here because you're taking away their choice to move between cool water and warm air), offer them a source of UVB, and place them in another shallow container of water each day to eat, poop, etc., they can live just fine like this while their shells improve, and while you're working on fixing their more permanent living conditions. It will also be healthier for them than where they're at right now.>
<Here are some ideas for lower cost ways you can provide your turtles with their minimal care needs; again refer to the link above for more information on all of these things:
Larger enclosure: A plastic storage container JUST like the one you're using right now is fine, but MUCH larger than what you have. Choose one with the largest surface area (length and width). Turtles like plenty of room to swim around. This will also allow you to try the option of housing both of them together with separate basking areas and some privacy spots instead of setting up 2 separate habitats.
Heat bulb: Good news here, too! All you need here is a regular light bulb placed over their basking area. You'll just have to try out different wattages and heights as you want to aim for 88-90 degrees F (31-32 degrees C) basking temperature. You can get a cheap digital thermometer at an electronics store or a relatively cheap one at a pet store. The pet store ones are nice because they come with a suction cup so you can attach it to the walls directly above the basking area. Bottom line here though -- you MUST provide heat over their basking spot. They need the proper amount of heat to digest their food otherwise it will rot in their stomachs, and it will lead to a life threatening illness. As a side note, place a screen (one with larger holes than a standard window screen, so the UVB can filter through) between the light fixture and the water to prevent the fixture from falling in the water.
UVB Light: This plus heat above their basking areas are 2 critical things your turtles need to have to stay healthy so some way you need to get this. But the good news is, they're not as expensive as you might think! Just replace the expensive food you've been buying them and use that money instead to buy this bulb! Here is a link below to the one I use, a ReptiSun 5.0 by Zoo Med. It's a top quality bulb, and it's on sale right now on the website below. The 18' is only $15 plus $7 shipping. You simply place it in an (also inexpensive) 18' fluorescent light fixture from a home improvement or building supply store. Again, place a screen (one with larger holes) between the fixture and the tank.
If you have trouble here, write back and I'll give you some more options, but this is what I'd recommend. And especially given you're in a seasonal climate and can't take them outside in the sun all year, you really do need this.
Water quality: You should start to save your money now for a good quality mechanical filter. You are likely going to need it in the future, especially when they get bigger and start producing more waste. Right now, in addition to your daily changes, I'd also recommend you also use a net to scoop up any waste as you see it in between changes (before it breaks down in the water). For tiny pieces of debris, you can *vacuum/suction up*. All you need for a *vacuum* is some flexible clear plastic tubing and a bucket with about a ¾' (2 cm) diameter (both available at a home improvement store or your pet store). You place the bucket lower than the tank, fill the tube with water, plugging one end with your thumb as you fill. Once filled, place your thumb on other end, put that end in the water, the other end in the bucket and release. The tube will start to suction out debris. You can move the tube around and control the *on* and *off* by placing and removing your thumb from the end of the tube in the bucket.
Food: Here is one place where you can now actually SAVE money instead of spend! Just cut out all the food you've been feeding them and replace with just one staple of a container of Koi pellets which are MUCH cheaper! You can find these in the pond section of the pet store or order them online. You can even buy them in larger containers to save more money. Just keep smaller amounts out at a time; and keep the larger container frozen in between. Supplement every week or two with a couple of earthworms each, and give them unlimited greens such as red and green leaf lettuce, dandelion greens (some grocery stores carry these), etc. See if you can find/or if your pet store sells a plastic clip with suction to keep them from floating all around and messing up your water.
Diet supplement: For your female turtle who has some softer spots, I'd also recommend a good quality powdered phosphorous-free Calcium with Vitamin D3 supplement (the one I use is by Rep-Cal). Just add a tiny pinch to Koi pellets soaked in a capful of water, and let sit for about 20 minutes so the powder soaks into the pellets.>
<Again -- bottom line -- you need to do the above things now, especially since your turtles have already been showing some signs of shell problems, illness. This is a warning sign that their diet and living conditions are not adequate and need to be changed.>
Both of my turtles can climb up the rock properly. My male turtle sits on the rock for the complete afternoon and till evening everyday. Many a times at night he sits and it seems like he doesn't want to get
down. My female turtle also gets on the rock everyday but not as much as the male turtle..
<It sounds like the basking rock you're using is adequate, and your male is doing fine with it -- but a couple of other things here to consider:
1. Make sure they can both fit on it at the same time. This is because they both need to be able to bask on it for several hours each day to stay healthy.
2. Make sure your female is not afraid to get on it or avoiding it when he's on it. You mentioned she doesn't bask nearly as much as he does -- and she also seems to be the turtle with more shell problems. My guess is she may be avoiding it either because he's on it, or because it's not warm enough for her. Try the heat bulb first; if she's still not getting out much on it; then you will likely need to get a 2nd basking spot just for her, or separate the two of them.
3. You absolutely need to have both a heat and a UVB light above it as described above.>
Also I wanted to add, about the behavior of my male turtle trying to scratch the face of my female, he does it no more..he has stopped doing that..and female turtle as such have no injuries till now..
Speaking about the nature, my female is more aggressive when it comes to food..
<As you mention here and in your last email, your turtles are already shown some signs of incompatibility. It's very common for one turtle to become the *dominant* one whenever you have 2 or more together. This is only going to become more pronounced as they become sexually mature. The one we're almost sure is a male is already almost there. Just something for you to keep a watch out for. Again, ideally I'd keep them separate, but short of that I'd recommend you feed them separately (you mentioned your female dominates here) AND get a MUCH larger container so that you can provide them with their own separate basking spots, and to enable you to divide up the larger tank with some rocks, fake plants, etc.), so that they can each have their own space and some privacy away from each other.>
<Regardless of compatibility, though -- either way you definitely need to get a MUCH larger enclosure for them.>
Thanks a lot..
<You're welcome, Sonal. We're happy to help. Write us back with any more questions or concerns and let us know how things are going.>

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