Pets & Animal Reptiles

Habitat for a Red Eared Turtle

    Natural Environment

    • Red-eared turtles are freshwater turtles that prefer warm water. They are most commonly found from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico and from western Texas to the East Coast. The red-eared turtle spends most of its time near water and prefers marshes and ponds rather than lakes and rivers. In northern areas where it gets cooler, the red-eared turtle will burrow into the ground and hibernate.


    • The proper size aquarium is very important for a healthy red-eared turtle. It is recommended that you have 10 gallons of tank for each inch of turtle shell. So a 5-inch turtle would use a 50 gallon tank. If your turtle is not full sized, it is best to buy a larger tank so you don't have to keep expanding. The most common type of tank for a red-eared turtle is a glass aquarium, but you can also use a plastic storage container, plastic stock tank, preformed pond or child's pool. Make sure you can put some type of wire cover over the top to prevent escape.


    • The minimum water area for a red-eared turtle must be at least four times as long as the length of the turtle's shell, two times as wide and at least 1 1/2 times as deep. So, a turtle with a 6-inch shell would need a water area at least 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 9 inches deep. Use a thermometer to ensure your water is 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to use a submersible aquarium heater to maintain the water temperature. You should change the water weekly.

    Basking Area

    • Provide an easy route for your red-eared turtle to leave the water area and crawl to the basking area. Use aquarium gravel to make a slope from the water to dry land. You can use smooth rocks, cork bark, driftwood or a piece of Plexiglas for the turtle to use as a basking area. The overall temperature of the aquarium should be 75 degrees, while the basking area should be 85 to 90 degrees. Place an incandescent light bulb over the area of the aquarium that the turtle will use to bask.


    • Feed young turtles every day and adults every other day. Move the turtle to a different tank to feed them because they are messy eaters. Less than 25 percent of the red-eared turtle's diet is based on a commercial diet, including trout chow, dog kibble or floating pellets. Less than 25 percent of the diet comes from animal protein. You can use live feeder fish, earthworms, finely chopped meat, cooked chicken or snails for this portion. Fifty percent or more of their diet comes from vegetation, which includes collard greens, dandelions, carrots, squash, berries or tomatoes.

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