If you’re wondering how to care for aquatic turtles such as the Red-Eared Slider, this article will be a good place to start your research.
Aquatic turtles emerge from their eggs as quarter-sized miniatures, usually more colorful than adults.
But these reptiles quickly start putting on size within months and will outgrow any accommodations meant for babies.
In the slider family of turtles, adults can reach sizes big enough to fit on a large dinner plate:
- Male slider turtles typically reach 7–8 inches in straight carapace length
- Female slider turtles can reach 12 inches. In person, this is quite an impressive bulk.
Housing adult aquatic turtles is the primary issue that leads people to give them up or outright abandon the pet turtles.
A lot of people buy a baby turtle sold in a tiny critter-keeper, never thinking that these turtles will grow to need a much larger tank or even an outdoor pond.
It’s extremely important to research any animal before bringing them home so you know you can handle the responsibility.
Know Your Aquatic Turtle
These reptiles come in many sizes, shapes and colors, and many are fast swimmers.
Turtles are cold-blooded creatures that are very sensitive to temperature changes, so it’s important to keep them in their habitat. In other words, leave show-and-tell to the furry pets.
Aquatic turtles spend most of their time underwater. In fact, turtle habitats are usually 75% water (semi-aquatic turtles need only 50% water).
Turtles may be slow on land, but their webbed feet allow them to swim fast. Aquatic turtles usually go onto land to bask in the sun or lay eggs, while semi-aquatics spend more time on land and may not be the best swimmers.
Common Aquatic Turtle: The Red-Eared Slider
Perhaps the most commonly kept turtle in captivity and the most notorious for its hardiness is the Red-Eared Slider.
Thanks in large part to both the pet trade and irresponsible caretakers, this species has established populations on every continent — except Antarctica.
The Red-Eared Slider can outbreed and outcompete most native turtles living in waterways all over the world. Also, they will breed with closely related species, such as the Yellow-Bellied Slider.
What Happens When People Abandon Pet Turtles?
People who no longer want to care for their pet turtles will release them into local waterways, believing that they will lead free, happy lives.
This is anything but the truth.
- Most “released” pet turtles will die of starvation without knowing where to find food.
- Or a predator will catch them.
- Very cold temperatures during winter will also kill abandoned pet turtles.
- Released pet turtles may introduce disease or infection to wild turtles, which could have potentially devastating effects on local populations.
The sellers are as much to blame for this as careless buyers.
Unscrupulous people out to make quick money will conveniently leave out vital information that people need in order to properly care for aquatic turtles. Telling them the truth would drive more customers away, costing them their sales.
In fact, when most people are made aware of what it actually takes to care for aquatic turtles, they realize they don’t really want one anymore.
Only the most dedicated people will strive to keep their turtles healthy and happy — and that’s for the best.