So, you want to get a Red Eared Slider. First, you need a place for it to live. Choosing a habitat for your Red Eared Slider is an important decision. Where (what room) will you want your turtle to live? What is your budget for your turtle? How big is the space for your turtle? Many turtles live in an indoor aquarium. You will need at least a 10-20 gallon tank for a baby turtle, probably bigger. A good rule of thumb for tank size is that you need 10 gallons of tank capacity for every inch of turtle. Remember, though, that Red Eared Sliders are semi-aquatic turtles, so they need water, but they do not live in water all of the time. Therefore, your aquarium will need to have water, but also have a dry area where the turtle can climb out and stay dry (usually the basking area). The amount of water you put in your tank will not be equal to its total gallon capacity.
Another option is an outdoor habitat. Outdoor habitats have separate advantages and disadvantages from indoor tanks. Outdoor habitats can only be used in certain temperatures. In some places, it is hot enough to keep them outside all year. In many more moderate areas, turtles can live outside in the summer but must come in in the winter. Some areas are just too cold for turtles to be outside.
Outdoor habitats are often easier to make larger and more comfortable for the turtle, whereas indoor habitats are often either very confined for the turtle or take up a lot of space. We will focus mostly on indoor habitats. Turtles in outdoor habitats in general have the same needs as turtles in a tank, but their needs can be met in different ways, such as basking in the sun instead of a lamp. Remember to make sure your turtle is safe in its outdoor habitat and canít escape or get attacked by other animals.
When setting up your Red Eared Sliderís tank or habitat, remember pet supplies can be purchased from a local pet store or online. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. If you buy supplies from a big chain pet store, then you may find better prices but often not as good service as a mom-and-pop-store. The animals at chain stores are sometimes more neglected then they would be from a smaller store. If you buy online, you lose the human element but can find good selection and prices. We at Turtle Source recommend the Red Eared Slider Supply Store (the URL is turtlestore.webs.com).
Turtles must have a basking lamp to provide them with a source of heat. The basking lamp should be set to 90-95 degrees (Fahrenheit). The rest of the habitat should be about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If kept outside, turtles should have access to both shade and direct sunlight for basking.
You will probably want to buy accessories for your turtle's cage. A common accessory is a basking ramp that lets the turtle get out of water. This is a good solution for providing a dry area in a tank. Other accessories include cage decorations, such as decorative sheets to put on the back of a tank to make the tank look like it is under sea. Make sure your decorations are turtle-safe. Be careful when using fake plants, as the turtle may try to eat the plants. The decorations should not hurt the turtle. They shouldn't be easily breakable or have small parts. Most commercially available reptile decorations will be safe for your turtle.
Also, be careful when choosing what to put on the bottom of your Red Eared Sliders tank. Gravel is a good choice, but if it is too little it can get stuck inside the turtles shell by coming in though the neck opening.
You will need to filter or clean out your red eared slider's cage. There are many different kinds of filters. One kind is an under gravel filter. A more common type of filter is one that is out of the water. Some aquariums come with filters (usually these are sold as starter packs with other accessories too.) You will need to change your turtle's water at least once a week. You may not need to change all of it. If you have a good filter, you may need to change as little as 25%-50% of the water. Be careful when adding new water, as a big change in temperature can be harmful. Let the water sit out for an hour so it adjusts to the temperature of the room that the turtle's aquarium is in. If you need to completely clean out your turtle's cage then, use vinegar and water. DO NOT use bleach or soap, as these are both very harmful to turtles.
One of the major factors in determining how much to change your is where you feed your turtle. If you feed your turtle in its cage, then its cage will be very dirty. Some people feed their turtles in a separate cage, which helps to eliminate mess (more on feeding on the next page). The separate cage can be fairly small, as the turtle is only in it for a few minuets. Make sure to follow the aforementioned rule about adjusting water temperature.
It is important to have the proper water depth for your turtle. Although there are many varying opinions, the best depth is about 1.5 to 2 times as deep as your turtle is long. Remember that your turtle will also need some space out of its water. Make sure that its cage has an area where the turtle can crawl out of the water (This may be the area where your basking lamp is located.).