How to Care for a Terrapin or Red-Eared Slider

The terrapin or red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scipta elegans) is a majestic creature that is often found near warm lakes and rivers in North America. It is considered legal in Singapore to take one as a pet, but like most amphibians, the red-eared slider needs special care and attention from the pet owner.

It is not advised to care for the turtle if you do not have the time nor the capacity to do so, especially if you’re expecting your children to look after it. Proper housing, diet and nutrition, and handling are important if you want it to have a long, healthy life (they can live up to 70 years!).

Correct Housing

The housing should be based on the size of the turtle. For a 4-inch terrapin, the acrylic or glass aquarium should have the following dimensions: 16 in x 8 in in length and width and a depth of 6 in. While a 12-inch turtle should have a 48 in x 24 in aquarium with a depth of 18 in. Once it becomes an adult, it needs at least a 55-gallon enclosure with a screen cover on top.

The substrate used should be large smooth gravel, with one area for basking and another for soaking in the water. Include sanitized driftwood and cork bark to complete the terrain, but do not use plastic plants because the turtle might ingest them.

The temperature should be maintained at 75° F using a 75-watt or lower incandescent bulb. The basking area should have a temperature between 85° to 90° F. Use full-spectrum fluorescent lights with timer 24 inches away from the turtle. Water in the soaking area should have a temperature of not less than 75° F. Make sure the water is always clean and changed every month.

Diet and Nutrition

Young turtles are primarily carnivorous and must be fed daily, but they will rely on both meat-based and plant materials as they grow older. Adult turtles can be fed every other day and might need to be fed in a separate area outside their aquarium. Return it to its enclosure 15 minutes after its meal, because they tend to be messy eaters.

Commercial food such as floating pellets and trout chow for the turtle are fine, but you need to vary their diet to get all the necessary nutrients. Animal protein sources may consist of tubifex worms, mealworms, waxworms, bloodworms, crickets, snails, pinkie mice, earthworms, live feeder fish, beef heart, cooked chicken, and raw lean beef. While vegetables, which should consist of half of their diet may be provided by feeding banana, sweet potatoes, mustard or collard greens, squash, shredded carrots, green beans, dandelions, shredded apple, melon, grapes, berries, and tomatoes.

Care and Diseases

Red-eared sliders are prone to injuries if not handled properly, that is why you should not let young children handle the turtle.

You also need to watch out for symptoms of common diseases, such as, algae, shell rot, swollen eyes, abscesses, shell injuries, respiratory infections, and Salmonella infection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *