Posted Sep 09, 2014
One crucial aspect before buying any turtle: make sure you get the right species. Too often I see people purchasing land turtles thinking they are freshwater turtles or the other way around. Remember, aquatics need their land area to dry off and sunbathe, while tortoises need a shallow water bowl to drink and soak (not swim).
There are several things to consider BEFORE buying a Red-Eared Slider (RES): First, depending on where you live, finding a herp vet can be very difficult, so that’s a very important aspect to consider before buying any reptile. Also, females can lay eggs even if they don’t mate, but the eggs won’t be fertile; my turtle used to lay up to 15 eggs per year, so that’s another factor to keep in mind.
Secondly, think of where you will keep them: in a glass tank or a plastic container? Either way, the tank has to be big enough to accommodate the turtle; a small tank will not prevent the turtle from growing, so it would be wise to buy a larger tank from the start (but don’t fill it with water, as hatchlings are not that strong and can drown).
Next, sliders live long (20 years+), so be prepared for a long-term commitment that involves quite frequent water changes (yes, even with a filter installed), constantly buying UV and heat bulbs, as well as supplying a proper diet. Never use a desert UV bulb for a tropical species, as it can harm your turtle’s eyes and impair vision, and remember that the bulbs also need changing every 6 to 12 months (depending on the brand you buy); you will have to research a little a RES’ specific habitat and diet requirements.
Red-Eared Sliders are great for busy people – they go quietly about their business in their tanks all day long, and are somewhat low maintenance in that as long as you set up their tank properly it won’t be much of a hassle; on the other hand though the filters and the tank itself need to be cleansed thoroughly once in a while, and that can be quite time consuming.
Your relationship with your RES will be very different from the one with your cat or dog. Sliders can be quite interactive once you’ve earned their trust; they even know their name and make eye contact. These are beautiful and smart critters, and make great pets as long as there are no young children around.
One of the great things about turtles is that you can choose how involved you get – RES don’t require your constant attention, though keeping a close eye on them can help you spot any slight changes in their behavior in case they get sick. Getting involved emotionally is truly rewarding; it’s so much fun observing their different personalities – each RES is different; some are more laid-back and shy, others are more active, some dislike being handled, others love the attention.