baby red eared slider care

Red-eared sliders are one of the most popular pet turtle species, and for good reason. They are relatively easy to care for, and typically have great personalities and love to swim. Today’s article will focus on everything you need to know when it comes to baby red-eared slider care.

Baby Red-eared Slider Care

The key to caring for a baby red-eared slider is providing the right diet, temperature, tank, filter, and basking platform.

red eared slider baby

If you are looking to buy some of their accessories, check out the cheap turtle tank products below.

Tetra Tetrafauna Pro Turtle Food

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UVA UVB Turtle Basking Light

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Turtle Tank Filter (480GPH)

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Penn-Plax Basking Platform

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What do baby red-eared sliders eat?

A baby red-eared slider’s diet should include a combination of insects, pellets, and vegetables.

what do baby red eared sliders eat
insects for baby red eared slider

Insects: Your baby red-eared slider will probably like insects the best. They should consist of around 30%-50% of their diet. I personally feed my baby red-eared slider freeze-dried river shrimp that you can get on amazon. It is high in protein, which will help support your slider’s growth. Since your slider’s jaw might not be strong or big enough, you might need to cut the insects into tiny pieces to make it easier for them to digest.

Pellets: Commercial pellets will also need to be a staple of your baby red-eared sliders diet. They contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that might not be in the insects you feed them. If possible, you should try to get pellets that are specifically designed for hatchling/baby turtles. They are a bit smaller which makes it easier to swallow. They also have a little more protein which helps support their growth.

Vegetables: While some don’t think they are a necessity, I do suggest making 10%-20% of your baby red eared slider’s diet vegetables. Vegetables are high in vitamin A and calcium, both of which are important nutrients for your slider’s health. Another reason I suggest feeding vegetables to a baby red-eared slider is because it can help them get used to it. Once your turtle stops growing, you will need to switch the majority of their diet to vegetables. This will be a much easier transition if you have been feeding your turtle vegetables their whole life.

You can learn more in my video below:

In terms of amount of food, you should feed your baby red-eared slider as much as they can eat in 5-10 minutes. Another method is to feed them the amount of food that is the size of their head.

Below are some cheap choices for baby red-eared slider food.

Tetra Tetrafauna Pro Turtle Food

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Aquatic Turtle Medley Food - Freeze Dried Shrimp & Mealworms for Aquatic Turtle

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Fluker’s Buffet Blend Turtle Food

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You can also check out this video below where I feed my red-eared slider a bunch of different types of pellets.

How often should I feed my baby red-eared slider?

I recommend feeding hatchlings twice a day until they reach at least 2-3 inches. After that you can switch to once a day. For adult turtles, you can check out my article on how often to feed red-eared sliders.


A common mistake that I see people make is that they don’t get a heater for their red-eared slider tank. It is essential that the water is between 75-85 degrees fahrenheight. Anything colder will make your baby red-eared slider susceptible to illnesses such as respiratory infection.

Cold water can also cause your baby turtle to stop eating. Therefore, it is important that you measure the water temperature, and if it’s below 75 degrees, invest in a heater. Luckily, there are some on amazon for less than $20.

How Do You Set-up A Baby Red-Eared Slider Tank?

You also want to make sure that you have the right tank for your baby red-eared slider. Since they grow pretty fast, I suggest getting at least a 40 gallon tank. A 20 gallon tank is fine in the beginning, but you will need to upgrade once your turtle reaches a length of 3-4 inches.

Also, I suggest only filling up your tank around halfway at first. Baby turtles aren’t the best swimmers, so it can be hard for them to reach the top surface for air if your tank is filled all the way up.

In terms of substrate, I have had the best luck with sand. You can also use large river rocks. I also suggest that you put some decorations or driftwood in your tank which will give your slider things to explore.

You might also want to consider adding plants for your turtle tank.

Baby Red-Eared Slider Filter

Your baby red-eared slider will 100% need a filter to keep the water clean from bacteria build up. Turtles create a lot of waste, so it’s important to get a filter that is strong enough.

I suggest you get one that filters at least 150-200 gallons per hour. While you will probably need to get a turtle canister filter when your red-eared slider gets older, it is not a necessity for a baby turtle.

In fact, I used a strong fish filter for the first couple years with my baby red-eared slider. They are much cheaper, but still get the job done. Just make sure to clean the filter at least every other week.

Basking platform

baby red eared slider basking platform

While most people know that baby red-eared sliders need a basking platform, they don’t always know the proper way to set it up.

For starters, you need to make sure that the basking platform is easily accessible from the water. Baby turtles have small legs, and it can be hard for them to climb onto objects. Therefore, you have to make sure that your basking platform extends into the water so they can easily walk onto it.

In terms of lighting, you need to make sure that you provide both UVA and UVB light. There are some bulbs that produce both, but you also might just need to get two lights.

After you have the light set up, I recommend that you measure the temperature of the basking platform with the light on. It should be around 10 degrees warmer than the water, so ideally between 85 and 95 degrees fahrenheight.

How to care for a baby red eared slider turtle?

If you follow all of the steps listed above, your baby red-eared slider should be happy, healthy, and easy to care for.

The only other thing I’ll mention is that you should keep a close eye on your baby red-eared slider’s behavior. Make sure that they are regularly eating, basking, and swimming. If they have a sudden change in behavior, it might be the sign of a disease.

Once your slider grows to a couple inches, I recommend taking it outside to get some natural sunlight. This will help them maintain a healthy shell.

How To Handle a Red-Eared Slider Baby

In general, try not to pick up or play with your baby red-eared slider. Now, I know that red-eared sliders can seem personable and playful but avoid picking it up and touching it as much as possible.

This rule becomes ten-times more important if you have children!

For this, let’s just make a checklist and get right down to it.

  1. Always wash your hands after handling your turtle. Turtles are very dirty, full of germs, and carry salmonella.
  2. As much as you want to, don’t play with your turtle as you would a pet cat or other animal. Turtles generally do not like touched or held. This causes lots of stress and anxiety.
  3. If you do need to pick up your baby red-eared slider, do it by scooping it so that it is sitting on your hand. This will give him a sense of stability and it won’t kick its feet everywhere.
  4. As much as you want to, try not to rub its shell. Turtles do not like this. Their shell is an extension of their skeleton. Imagine if somebody was rubbing on your ribs. You wouldn’t like it either!
  5. Be careful when putting your hand in the tank. Red-eared sliders don’t have hurtful bites, but they do sometimes bite. This usually happens when they mistake your finger for food.

Now that you know how to take care of your baby red-eared slider, let’s look at some adorable photos.

Red-eared Slider Hatchling

Red-eared Slider Hatchling

Red-Eared Slider Baby

picture of baby red eared slider
Red eared slider baby
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