Red Eared Slider Turtle Myths and Misconceptions: Separating Fact from Fiction

Red Eared Slider Turtle Myths and Misconceptions: Separating Fact from Fiction

Image credit @ Clubpets

Red-eared slider turtles are popular pets, and you can now find them in ponds and other water bodies all over the world. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about these turtles, which can hurt their health and ability to live. Here are some of the most common myths and false beliefs about red-eared slider turtles, along with their truths. Stay tuned to explore Red Eared Slider Turtle Myths and Misconceptions: Separating Fact from Fiction.

Red Eared Slider Turtle Myths and Misconceptions: Separating Fact from Fiction

Separating Facts About Red-Eared Slider Turtle:

  • The scientific name for red-eared sliders is “Trachemys scripta elegans”. They belong to the family Emydidae, which is comprised of pond turtles.
  • Red-eared sliders are a turtle that lives in the water in parts of the southern United States and some northeastern areas of Mexico.
  • The shell color of red-eared sliders ranges from vegetation to dark greens depending on age, whereas limbs are often green with yellow stripes and an orange or red stripe can be present behind each eye.
  • A red-eared slider’s shell (carapace) usually grows to be 12.5 cm to 28 cm (5-11 inches) long, but it can sometimes be longer.
  • As a result of human introduction, the red-eared slider turtle is now considered one of the world’s most invasive animals, having spread to several regions across Australia, Asia, the Pacific Islands, Europe, South Africa, and South America.
  • Most of the time, red-eared sliders are in the water. Although, they need to bask in the sun to keep their body temperature up because they can’t control it themselves and have to depend on external sources.
  • A red-eared slider can be recognized by its unusually long claws, the red spots on its head, and the way it pulls its head straight in when it retracts into its shell instead of bending it sideways.
  • The female red-eared slider digs a hole in the ground to lay her two to thirty eggs, which usually take 59 to 75 days or above to hatch.
  • Red-eared sliders eat mostly fish, snails, young insects, crustaceans, and aquatic plants. In the wild, they can survive more than 30 years, but in captivity, they can live up to one or two decades or longer.
  • Red-eared sliders have become one of the most popular pets among aquatic turtles, particularly in the US. This is because they can quickly adjust to new surroundings. However, they are illegal in some countries.
  • The temperature during a Red-eared Slider’s development determines its gender. Whether the baby red-eared slider turtle grows up to be a male or a female depends on the temperature of the nest. The eggs that hatch in a cold nest will be males, while the eggs that hatch in a warm nest will be females.
  • Ponds are home to Red-eared Sliders, who are excellent swimmers. You could say that swimming and diving in the water is a part of their personality, but they are vulnerable to drowning. Because turtles can’t breathe underwater, they could all drown, particularly in water bodies that don’t have enough oxygen (deoxygenated water).
  • Red-eared Slider turtles have good vision but bad hearing. And sensitive to vibrations.
  • Pond sliders use their vision to find food and respond to their surroundings. Their eyes can see UV, red, green, blue, and violet light. Pond sliders communicate through displays, eye-rolling, touch, and vibrations. These turtles move their eyes quickly back and forth to make flashes of light and reflections that let them communicate with other turtles. Red-eared slider turtles communicate with each other during courtship rituals by moving their foreclaws around.
  • The average speed of a red-eared slider is only 3–4 mph.
  • Pond sliders aren’t venomous. Their bites are not poisonous. So, you should not be concerned even if you get bitten.
  • They are Salmonella carriers. Baby red-eared slider with a length of fewer than 4 inches has been prohibited from being sold in the US since 1975. As you have read, a kind of bacteria called Salmonella is the major cause. Turtles are only carriers of the bacterium, yet they are capable of infecting people.
  • The term “red-eared slider turtle” refers to both their remarkable ability to slide off into the water and surfaces as well as the red lines that run through their ears. Also, they know by various names such as pond sliders, water slider turtles, and red-eared terrapins.

Myths and Misconceptions:

Myth 1: Most People Think that red-eared slider turtles are omnivores, and can eat everything.

Fact: Red-eared sliders are particularly omnivorous and voracious feeders, consuming both vegetable matter and animal protein. As juveniles, they mostly eat meat (carnivores), and most of their diet is made up of proteins. They become more omnivorous as they age. They eat small animals, fish, and insects. As they get older, these turtles get to be herbivores that eat mostly aquatic plants. All turtles that live in water eat and swallow with their heads under the water. They won’t eat when they are out of the water.

Myth 2: Many people think red-eared slider turtles hibernate.

Fact: Red-eared Sliders don’t hibernate, they brumate. They become less active, but sometimes they come up to the surface to get air or food. Most pond sliders spend the winter in the mud at the bottom of shallow lakes or ponds. Most of the time, they stop moving when the temperature drops below 10 °C (50 °F) in October.

Myth 3: Most people don’t know pond sliders live a very long life.

Fact: Red-eared slider turtles live longer than you might think. And many of the people who buy these animals don’t know that. These turtles can live for about 30 years. That is a big commitment for a long time. Think about this if you want to get a baby red-eared slider turtle. This is why so many people decide they don’t want them, get rid of them, or let them go.

Myth 4: You don’t know how long red-eared sliders can survive without food.

Fact: Red-eared slider turtles are strong creatures. Sliders can live in a variety of tough situations. One of those is going for a long time without eating. A red-eared slider can usually go three months (90 days) without eating. The duration can fluctuate depending on variables like size, age, environment, and prior diet.

Myth 5: Red-eared slider turtles are easy to care for.

Fact: Red-eared sliders are very hardy and adaptable, caring for them is not easy or cheap. To stay healthy, they need a lot of planning and care all the time. Still, if you take good care of this turtle, it can be a friendly and fairly interactive pet. It would do best as a display animal. They may be one of the most mistreated species of reptiles in captivity. Pond sliders are often severely neglected or released into the wild without thinking, which is another reason why they spread so quickly and invasively.

Myth 6: Red-eared slider turtles hiss like snakes when they are mad.

Fact: Red-eared sliders hiss when they are tired as well as when they are scared or feel threatened. Also, when the red-eared slider rests, it puts its head in its shell and breathes out, and hissing sounds may be heard.

Myth 7: Red-eared slider turtles are fully aquatic.

Fact: The red-eared slider is probably the most popular pet aquatic turtle. These turtles can live in both water and land, and they like to get out of the water to bask in the sun.


Red-eared slider turtles are popular pets and important animals in the wild. But there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about these turtles that could lead to them being neglected. By separating fact from fiction, we can learn more about the needs and behaviors of red-eared sliders and take steps to make sure they are healthy. It is important to learn about how to take care of and treat these amazing animals, whether we keep them as pets or in the wild, to protect their future and help them survive. Hopefully, this article about Red Eared Slider Turtle Myths and Misconceptions: Separating Fact from Fiction will help you figure out what’s true and what’s not.


How long can a red-eared slider hold its breath?

Pond sliders can typically go for up to 30 to 35 minutes without breathing. The temperature of the water does affect how long they can hold their breath. In cold water, red-eared sliders can hold their breath for a lot longer because their bodies need less oxygen.

What makes red-ear turtles happy?

Turtles like to bask in the sun, swim, and be active. Also, turtles grow. So, it’s crucial to provide your turtle plenty of room to enjoy these activities and room to grow if you want your turtle to be happy.

Can red-eared slider sleep underwater?

Red-eared sliders are great swimmers. They often float on the top or lie on the bottom while sleeping at night, using their inflated neck as a flotation device.

What’s wrong with red-eared sliders?

Red-eared sliders can spread infections like Salmonella, respiratory illnesses, or ranavirus. They compete with local turtles for habitat and food. Wildlife, including reptiles, fish, frogs, and native turtles to Ontario, such as the snapping turtle, are at risk from ranaviruses.

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