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Turtles/Red Ear slider?

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Question
I just got a red ear slider. I just got it at a pet store here in the Philippines. I asked the workers what I need to do to care for them. Its just a baby and I got it a 10 gallon tank and some turtle food and filled about a third of his tank with rocks. As I am reading up on them though they seem like a lot more work than what they told me. Could you give me some advice? What veggies and fruits are good to feed them? How much and how often should I feed them? Do you HAVE to have a filter? Should I get them a heat lamp? (The workers just said I should take it outside for a half an hour each day) Any other advice for me? Thankyou!

Answer
Hi Jaylynn,

Probably everything they told you was wrong.  First of all, red-eared sliders get quite large--up to 12" for females and about 8-9" for males.  Second, turtles need room.  An adult RES needs a 100-150 gallon tank.  A hatchling needs at least a 20 gallon tank--10 gallons is too small--but since they grow fairly quickly, it would be better to get a larger tank and let the turtle grow into it.  

For the basic setup, you nned the tank, of course.  Then you need a filter--and you MUST have a filter, a good one.  Small tank size and poor water quality are the main reasons for skin and shell infections.  The filter should be sized for at least TWICE the tank capacity; so if you have a 50 gallon tank, the filter should be sized for a 100+ gallon tank.  Whatever is on the bottom of the tank should be fairly large--too big for an adult turtle to swallow.  River stones are fine.

You not only need a basking lamp, you need a UVB bulb as well.  This is a specialt reptile bulb.  Turtles need UVB to metabolize calcium, so unless they're outside for several hours daily, they need the bulb.  There should be a basking temperature (measured on the surface of the basking area under the bulb, not air temperature) of 88-90 degrees, and the water should be 76-78 degrees.

Diet should be a mix of a good quality pellet, whole animal protein, greens/veggies, and occasional fruit.  I'll link some websites below for you to look over, and you can find good diet suggestions there.  Feed no more than once a day, and small amounts.  A rough estimate is to feed daily an amount about the size of the turtle's head.  They are greedy and can get obese, so don't overfeed.  Once the turtle is a year old, they should be fasted 1-2 days a week.

Here's some websites with more in-depth information:

http://www.redearslider.com/
http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/caresheet-red_ear_slider.htm
http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/care.htm
http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/waterquality.htm
http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/housing.htm

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Jeannie

Expertise

Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.

Experience

I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

Education/Credentials
My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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