The red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), is a semiaquatic turtle and a subspecies of the pond slider. It is the most popular pet turtle in the United States and is also popular as a pet across the rest of the world. Red-eared sliders are native to the southern United States and northern Mexico.
The red-eared slider gets its name from the small red stripe around its ears and from its ability to slide quickly off rocks and logs into the water.
The carapace of this species can reach more than 40 cm (16 in) in length, but the average length ranges from 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in). The females of the species are usually larger than the males. They typically live between 20 and 30 years, although some individuals have lived for more than 40 years. Their life expectancy is shorter when they are kept in captivity. The quality of their living environment has a strong influence on their lifespans and well being.
House your turtle in the largest possible glass aquarium. As a rule of thumb, the enclosure's volume should be 10 US gal (38 L) per 1 in (2.5 cm) of your turtle's shell length. Keep in mind your pet's exact space requirements depend on its species. The tank should also have a secure cover to prevent your turtle from escaping. The water's depth should be at least twice the turtle's length. Cover the bottom of the tank with peat moss or soil. Make a basking area for your turtle. Make the layer of sand and soil or peat moss and wood chips higher on one side of the tank. Build up smooth, wide river rocks or driftwood onto the elevated side of the bedding. This side of the tank should stay dry and rise up out of the water. Install a filter to help keep the water clean.
Use a reptile lamp to heat the basking zone.
Purchase turtle food labeled for your pet's species. Purchase pellets or canned turtle food at your pet supply store. Buy frozen and live guppies or minnows, worms, grasshoppers, and crickets. Additionally, chop up veggies, such as kale, lettuce, dandelion, and carrots, and add them to your turtle's food. Feed your turtle 3 to 4 times per week. Most turtle species commonly kept as pets need to be feed every other day, but check with the breeder or pet store to be sure. Mornings are good feeding times, since turtles are more active earlier in the day. Add calcium to your turtle's food every other feeding.
Use a net to remove droppings from the tank every day. To keep the water as clean as possible, scoop out droppings, leftover food, and other debris daily. Be sure to wash your hands after touching the inside of the tank or handling your turtle. Change 25% of the aquarium's water weekly. Using a bucket or siphon, drain and discard about 1/4 of the tank's water. Then replace it with an equal amount of new water. Clean the whole tank every 3 weeks. Transfer your turtle to a backup tank so you can clean the main enclosure.
Red-eared slider turtles are the most popular pet turtles due to their relatively low price, and usually low food price, small size and easy maintenance.