As a pet enthusiast and a potential slider turtle owner, you may have wondered about this fervently.
As far as the lifespan of the Red-Eared Slider is concerned, it varies a great deal based on whether they are in the wild or in captivity. It is interesting to note that in captivity, the red-eared slider has a lifespan of 40-50 years, whereas that number cuts down drastically when it is in the wild, which is around 20-30 years.
The red-eared slider is one of the most common and sought-after turtle additions if you are looking for one. Like any other pet, they require proper care, looking after and favorable living conditions to thrive and live longer. It is advised to be equipped with all the information you can have about them before making the decision to own them.
Read all about taking care of a turtle here:
Table of Contents
How long do red-eared slider turtles live in captivity?
Although turtles are potentially known to live as long as 100 years, it is interesting to note that not all species exhibit the same life expectancy. The red-eared slider is no different. It is quite hard to pinpoint its exact lifespan but there have been instances where under impeccable living conditions, a red-eared slider has lived well and beyond 40 years of age.
The average lifespan of the red-eared slider is 25 years and the average length of a slider turtle is 12 inches.
If not looked after well, the red-eared slider may not even live beyond the first four to five years of its life. It may take some time and get used to but once you, as a per owner, get the hang of constructing and maintaining the most viable living set up for them, they will grow and live longer beautifully.
How long do red-eared slider turtles live in the wild?
The red-eared slider unfortunately has a shorter lifespan in the wild. The emphasis on well-balanced, optimum living conditions becomes way more important when we talk about these slider turtles in the wild.
The red-eared slider turtle is an invasive species. An invasive species is known to dominate and outnumber the indigenous animals and fauna when introduced in a particular region. This invasive nature of the slider turtle may well be enough to establish that they have the possibility of living longer in the wild but that is not the case. Although being a dominant species is in its inherent nature, a lot of other factors become instrumental when it comes to determining the red-eared slider’s lifespan in the wild. The most important factor is the availability and choice of well-balanced, nutritious food.
A very significant perk of being a pet is that they are fed consistently and healthily. Whereas in the wild, the uncertainty of it all spells out problems for the slider turtle. There is a stark contrast between the food it consumes as a pet and the food it gets to feed on in the wild. The guarantee of good nutrition is lost in that. Also, the most important period for the red-eared slider to grow is the first five years of its life. In the first few years, therefore, the slider tends to binge up on as much protein as possible to be able to amply support its growth needs. On a good day, the majority of the red-eared slider’s diet is more meat and protein-based for the growth years of their life. They start to favor a more simple and vegetarian diet as they grow older.
The red-eared slider’s inability to hunt also contributes a great deal to not being able to fill up on their quota of protein for a day. Imagine this. Going weeks without certainly knowing when you get to eat meat again especially when your primary diet requirement comprises of meat and variants of protein.
A red-eared slider is after all a turtle and hence is slow on the uptake. Apart from misplaced nourishment, the turtle is also under the threat of being hunted by bigger animals. Especially being an aquatic turtle, it is constantly under attack by larger predatory species. In the tussle of life, if they do come under attack, they have two options. Either they are killed or they are gravely injured. Getting injured adds a great deal of discomfort and effectively shortens the lifespan of a red-eared slider.
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Why Do Turtles Live So Long?
It is quite a mystery as to how and why the turtles live as long as they do. A lot of times, this ability is attributed to a slow metabolism. Turtles move around awfully slow and they need much less energy as compared to other animals. Their food and water intake also have adapted themselves to this. As a result, they can go without food or water for days together as their body has ample reserves because of the slow rate of metabolism.
Turtles as a species go into prolonged periods of a hibernation-like state. This process is called Brumation. In the state of brumation, turtles become very slow, nearly still. Some dig holes, go into hiding, and surface once in a few weeks to drink water and return back to brumating. Turtles usually resort to Brumation under harsh living conditions which mostly manifest themselves from cold and extreme weather conditions. Their large shells and the process of brumation help them survive unfavorable conditions. Sometimes their system can adapt to anaerobic metabolism which simply implies that they can go without oxygen for a long time. As a result, all the life processes are very slow for a turtle at any given point in time.
It is interesting to note that turtles also reach sexual maturity quite later in life. A typical red-eared slider turtle becomes sexually mature somewhere between the ages of five and seven. In spite of that, their primal instinct is to survive, hence mating does not figure on a turtle’s priority list. For most species, mating and birthing off-spring is a proven method of building a colony or a pack for preservation and security. Given that the turtle has a tough outer shell, it is a standalone animal that is well-protected and does not feel the need to increase its population for security.
As typical as it may sound, but scientists attribute the turtles’ long lifespan to the fact that it is alone and unsocial. Also, a turtle adapts to a dominantly vegetarian diet as it gets older thereby eliminating any potential meat consumption-related infections. All the above reasons, outer shell defense, delayed sexual tendencies; stress-free social life and a predominantly vegetarian lifestyle are all somehow known to contribute to the longevity of the turtle.
How to increase your Red-eared slider lifespan?
Having a turtle as a pet is not as easy as it may be getting a couple of fish. Even though it is a reptile, it requires utmost care and looking after. No other factor takes precedence over the fact that proper habitation and care are the key instruments to make your turtles live longer.
There are three aspects that revolve around caring for your pet turtle that you should absolutely look after. Their Habitat, Diet, and Health.
The most important thing to keep in mind when housing a red-eared slider is that it needs to have ample space to move around. The tank that you will use to house your pet slider needs to be big enough to give it ample room to swim around. The more space they have, the more they thrive and grow. The water in the tank should also be at an optimal temperature, neither too cold nor too hot. The tank should also be lit with a UV light as it provides warmth and acts as a source of sunlight for the turtle.
Constant exposure to UV light is extremely vital to the health of the red-eared slider. It aids in proper digestion, produces ample Vitamin D3 in their body which aids in the absorption of calcium. Consistent calcium intake is very important to the turtle so it can maintain its outer shell and bone health intact. Apart from the UV light exposure, the light also provides heat to the red-eared slider. The slider turtle is a native of the southern United States and Northern Mexico, regions that are inherently hotter. The slider, as a result, uses this heat to dry off its body and bask. The heat also marginally decreases the risk of any bacterial infections and cold-related diseases that the turtle may contract. Without the light and heat source, the red-eared slider would find it extremely difficult to adjust to its environment and that could affect its longevity and overall quality of life.
The red-eared slider makes a lot of mess around the tank, so care should also be taken to make sure the tank that the turtle lives in is constantly cleaned and proper hygiene is maintained. Attaching a strong water filter to the tank would be the most viable option as it would help maintain optimal levels of salinity, pH, and chemicals. If the water conditions are compromised, the red-eared slider would end up getting infections and diseases related to its shell and skin.
A baby red-eared slider would require a 55-gallon tank whereas, for an adult red-eared slider, a single one needs a minimum 120-gallon capacity tank for it to thrive. If you wish to get more turtles, then a tank larger than 120 gallons is the way to go.
As a baby, red-eared slider turtles require a very strict prescribed diet. Since they are in their growing phase, they will need to be fed a healthy combination of meats, insects, feeder worms along with fruits and vegetables. The ideal proportion to be followed for their diet is to keep the meat and vegetable ratio at 3:1. This ratio can be reversed in the favour of vegetables and fruits when the slider turtles grow older. Earthworms and feeder fish can be fed to your slider turtles once a week as a treat. As mentioned earlier, additional calcium supplements may be required to give to the turtles for them to maintain their optimum bone health and shell structure.
The feeding schedule of the young slider turtle varies from that of its adult counterpart. While the young red-eared slider is to be fed daily, the adult slider needs to be fed once in two to three days.
As a rule of thumb, the quantity of the food should be the size of the head of the turtle.
Regular maintenance of health and check-ins with the Vet is recommended for the red-eared slider. Although they are built to endure rough weather and extreme conditions in the wild, they can fall prey to certain infections quicker than other turtles. Regular check-ups will ensure that you are one step ahead in case an infection does happen and the prognosis will be easier and faster. Keep an eye out for any symptoms in your red-eared slider that seem out of the ordinary. If there is nasal discharge, appetite loss, shrunken skin, or foamy eyes, get in touch with your Vet immediately and get it checked out.
Keeping a track of all the above factors and ensuring well-rounded maintenance of the slider turtle will help your pet to live a longer and healthier life.
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How To Make Your Pet Turtles Live Longer?
As discussed in the section above, the lifespan of a turtle majorly depends on the kind of environment and living conditions that are given to it.
To ensure that your pet turtles live a longer life, the main aspects that need to be taken care of are their housing conditions, their diet, and their health. Apart from these, genetics also play an important part in the life and longevity of the turtle.
Keep an eye out for any signs you think seem out of place in your turtle’s life and be vigilant enough to act fast if there is any discrepancy. If you keep all these markers in mind and maintain a healthy, steady environment, your turtle will be sure to live long to be your beloved family pet.
Last but not the least, bringing home a pet is a huge responsibility on its own whether it is a turtle or any other species. Your priority is to provide for the best care in terms of housing and their feeds, the rest will all fall into place. A red-eared slider makes for a very enjoyable and cheerful house pet.