Pets & Animal Reptiles

About Red-Eared Turtles


    • The red-eared slider is native to the southern United States. However, the red-eared slider is adaptive and is found throughout all of the United States and much of Canada. It is thought that because the red-eared slider is so popular in the pet trade, a high number of them were released into the wild once they grew too large and established populations in new areas. These turtles are seen as invasive species in much of the country, because they compete for food and habitat with native wildlife.


    • Red-eared sliders are aquatic and must live near water. In most cases, the red-eared slider will leave the water only to find a new habitat, to lay its eggs or to warm up in the sun. The red-eared turtle is found nearly anywhere there is warm fresh water, including marshes, ponds, lakes, rivers and other slow-moving bodies.


    • Red-eared sliders, like most turtles, are omnivores. As babies, they eat more protein such as worms, fish, insects and tadpoles, and as adults they eat similar proteins as well as aquatic plants. Red-eared sliders have tongues that are fixed to the insides of their mouths. Because they do not produce saliva, they have to eat their food while in the water.

    Salmonella Scare

    • Red-eared sliders are the reason many states have laws that prohibit selling baby turtles with shells that are smaller than 4 inches across. This is because in the 1970s, many children became ill with salmonella poisoning after putting baby red-eared sliders --- which are only about an inch across as hatchlings --- in their mouths. Turtles pose some salmonella risk as pets because they defecate in the same water they swim in, but frequent hand washing after handling a red-eared slider can prevent the spread of the dangerous bacteria.

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