How to Care for a Baby Slider Turtle?

If you are in the market to get yourself a turtle, look no further than the Red-Eared Slider. They are some of the most popular turtles that people adopt and care for in their own homes. If you go into a pet store or look up recommendations on which turtle to adopt, the first name that pops up will be the Red-Eared Slider. 

The main reason for being so popular is quite simply because they are one of the most interesting, fun, and unique pets one can keep. 

They are adorable pets, but caring for them is not as easy as it might seem. This article will talk about how to care for them, their diet, their tank requirements, and much more. Do read through this article entirely before you decide to get yourself one of them. Red Eared Sliders are sensitive animals that have particular needs. You should very carefully set up their environment. Another factor you must consider before committing to a Red-Eared Slider is that they are not cheap to maintain.  

To know the fundamentals of caring for a turtle, you can visit the following link to read an article about caring for them: How to Take Care of a Turtle

Appearance and Overview : 

Baby Slider Turtle

The Red-Eared Slider turtle is very easily spotted by the distinct red patches at the corner of their eyes. Apart from this, the subtle yellow highlights that can be seen around their shells also help tell them apart. The Red-Eared Slider is primarily an aquatic creature that comes up onto the rocks or logs to bask in the sunlight. While basking, multiple Red-Eared sliders may even pile up on each other. This is where they get their name “sliders” from. 

Red Eared Sliders typically live for 20 to 30 years and grow up to an entire foot long. They do, however, take a good 5 to 7 years to reach their adult size. Also, be prepared to house them as they do require quite a lot of space.

How to buy a Baby Red Eared Slider Turtle : 

Before you go ahead and buy a baby Red-Eared Slider Turtle, there are certain things you need to check. They are highly susceptible to infections. They need to be checked before buying one. 

  • Make sure there are no holes in their shell. A hole means potential exposure to infection.  
  • Check if the turtle can swim. If it can’t dive deep into the water, the turtle most likely has an infection. 
  • Look for a glossy finish on the shell of the turtle. If there is a white coating, it means the turtle has been sitting for too long in hard water. If the shell is dull, that means the turtle has not had enough exposure to UV-B light. 
  • Take a look at the eyes. If they move too slowly or have sudden movement, it is a bad sign. Even a slightly yellowish or red tinge points to an infection.  

How to Care for a Baby Red Eared Slider Turtle : 

How to Care for a Baby Red Eared Slider Turtle

There is not too much difference between caring for a baby and an adult Red Eared Slider. The tank requirements, lighting, basking area requirement, etc., are all the same. The main difference is in the frequency of feeding. 

You must take good care of baby Sliders. They are highly sensitive to changes in their environment. The baby Sliders require a nutritious and balanced diet, a solid filter to ensure the tank stays clean and healthy,  proper lighting, and an adequate basking area. 

Keep in mind that turtles are undomesticated creatures. As such, they prefer to be kept solitary. You must note this, as they prefer minimal interaction with humans and other animals. This means even around baby Red-Eared sliders, keep interaction to a minimum.

Foods that baby Red Eared Sliders Eat : 

Red Eared Sliders require an omnivorous diet. This means their diet consists of both plant and animal-based food. Do not let their size fool you, though. Even as babies, their diet is quite large. However, it is okay at this stage as they can survive by mainly eating flake and pellet food. 

As babies, Red Eared Sliders must be fed at least once a day to meet nutritional requirements. As the turtles grow and become adults, you can slowly reduce the frequency of their feedings and bring it down to about once every two days. You can start feeding them once every two days once they are about six months old. A rule of thumb that you can use to keep track of it by turtle size. If the turtle is less than 2 inches long, feed it once every day. If it has grown to anywhere between 2 and 3.5 inches, feeding it every other day is sufficient. Keep in mind that your baby Red Eared Sliders diet should be mainly focused on protein. 

Every once in a while, it is a good idea to give your turtles a treat. These treats include insects, fish, or some grubs. You can feed them in combination with their regular flake and pellet diet. Remember that overfeeding them with treats is a bad thing as those foods are rich in fat. Turtles are prone to fatty liver disease. A good rule of thumb that should be followed when feeding the babies is that you should not give them more pellets than the approximate size of their head. Another way to measure it is to provide them with food that they can finish in 5 to 10 minutes only. Any more, and it would be overfeeding. The babies also love eating different types of worms. Bloodworms, earthworms, silkworms, mealworms, and waxworms are all great options to feed to baby Red Eared Sliders as a treat. 

Adding marine food to their diet is also okay. Sometimes they will eat other small fish like minnows. They have also been known to snack on snails and small shrimp. All these foods can be found for the turtles online or in the store. You could optionally check out these links for food you can buy to feed them: 

Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Turtle Food

What to do if baby Red Eared Slider won’t eat? :

This is something that happens quite often. First, stop giving them plant-based food and switch to a protein-based diet. Most turtles prefer a protein-based diet as that is what they usually find in their habitat. However, once they start growing, you will need to veer them off and start them on a dark green leafy vegetable diet. You will need to keep this going until their protein intake happens about twice a week at the maximum. 

The real problem is when your baby Red-Eared Slider doesn’t eat even the protein diet. Baby turtles usually do not eat because of stress. This stress is generally caused because of factors like moving into a new habitat or aquarium. In cases like these, the turtle will get into its shell and stay in one spot motionless most of the time. Regardless, keep trying to feed it pellets. In a few days, the turtle will start to eat them. However, if an entire week passes and your turtle still hasn’t eaten, then there must be another cause behind this. 

At this point, look for signs of diseases. If not found, try and evaluate the environment to check for areas that may potentially be causing stress. If you still have no luck, talk to an expert and get the opinion of a veterinarian.    

How to set up a baby Red Eared Slider Tank? : 

As mentioned earlier, setting up the tank for a baby Red-Eared Slider is crucial. There are a few components that are essential to a tank that will house the red-eared slider.  You need a robust filter system, a large tank to accommodate the turtle as an adult, a UV heat and light source, a thermometer, heater, and a basking dock. 

Let us talk about the tank. We recommend going with a 55-gallon tank for your Red-Eared Slider. If you have a bigger one, great! There’s never a problem with having extra space. A thumb rule for selecting the size of the tank is to have 10 gallons of water for every square inch of the turtle shell. 

Now, let us see what the heating requirements are for the Red-Eared Slider. When it comes to water heaters, pick a submersible one. It is not too expensive, and it does the required task. When it comes to the light source, you need to have both UV-A and UV-B light. Any UV light with less than 5 – 10 % UV-B output will not be strong enough.

The heat source you select should be strong enough to keep the basking area at a pleasant toasty temperature of 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Select a basking platform that is large enough to accommodate your turtle.

How to Handle a Red Eared Slider Baby : 

  • As we have spoken about earlier, turtles do not like being handled. So try and keep interaction with them to a minimum. Another reason to minimize interaction with them is the fact that they are also quite dirty. They carry a lot of germs on their body and are known to carry salmonella as well. Minimize handling them. 
  • This does not mean that Red Eared Sliders are, in any way, cold creatures. They have their way of showing affection. They may even sometimes come to you and eat the food right out of your hands or even come and say hello. 
  • They are very sensitive to vibrations as well, and this could also cause them stress. As babies, they are also very fragile. So, they could also get hurt without us meaning to while handling them. 
  • Moreover, freshly hatched turtles have soft shells that could be soft and would also be hazardous to them if mishandled. Their shell is an extension of their skeleton, and they do not like people rubbing on it. 
  • If you absolutely must handle the turtle, make sure you do so by scooping it in a manner that has it sitting in the palm of your hand. After you put it down, wash your hands immediately as salmonella is an exceptionally infectious disease that could be transmitted via the turtle to you. 
  • Be careful when you put your hand in the tank. The Red-Eared Slider might bite your finger as it may mistake your finger for food. 

Summary

  • Let us summarize everything we have covered in this lecture on caring for Red Eared Baby Sliders. 
  • Make sure you have all the required equipment for their care ready before you go ahead and get the turtle.
  • Thoroughly check the turtle before you buy it. A lot of turtles are sick, and owning a sick turtle is quite expensive. 
  • Do not get a smaller tank than the recommended size for your turtle at its maximum adult size. 
  • Constantly monitor the temperature of the water in the tank and the basking area that is artificially heated. 
  • Do not handle your turtle unless it is essential.
  • Feed your baby turtles a balanced diet of pellets and flakes combined with protein-rich food like shrimp, insects, or larvae. Once it has grown between 2 and 3.5 inches, slowly veer them off that diet and add green leafy vegetables to their diet. 
  • Regularly clean out their tank. Preferably once every 2 or 3 weeks at least. 
  • Be careful when you put your finger inside the aquarium, as the turtle might mistake your hand for food and attempt to bite it. 
  •  The essential components for the tank are a large aquarium, a basking spot with a good heating source, a strong UV-A and UV-B light, a thermometer, a good water filter, and a water heater. 
  • They need to be fed in water.
  • Any time you handle the turtle, be sure to wash your hands before and after. This is to avoid potentially being infected by salmonella. 

Final Words

The Red-Eared Slider is a fun, unique, and comparatively easy-to-look-after turtle that is an excellent addition to your tank. If cared for properly, you have yourself a companion for a long, long time. Among all the turtle species that you can take care of at home, the Red-Eared Slider is quite possibly one of the easiest to take care of. Another bonus is the fact that their requirements do not change too much as they grow. 

Despite a lack of physical contact, you can still have a great relationship with your pet turtle. At first, things will start a little bit rocky, but they will get better over time. Feeding them regularly, teaching them their name, and killing their boredom will bring you closer together. 

As long as you do not handle them too often and care for them correctly, you will have a great experience and a friend for decades together. 

For further reading, you can also read the articles that have been linked here : 

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