red eared slider facts

Red-eared sliders are the most popular turtle species kept as a pet. These fascinating creatures are great swimmers, and usually have outgoing personalities. In today’s article, I am going to cover some of the craziest fun facts about red-eared sliders that you probably didn’t know already.

Fun Red-Eared Slider Facts

Some of the coolest red-eared slider facts are that they can sleep underwater for hours, they hibernate and breathe through their butt, and that they can climb.

Sleep underwater for hours

While turtles are not able to breathe underwater, they are able to sleep underwater for hours at a time. When they are swimming, turtles usually need to come up for air every ten to fifteen minutes. However, when a turtle is sleeping, they significantly slow down their heart rate.

This causes them to not need as much oxygen, which allows them to stay sleeping underwater for hours.

Here is a cute photo of my red eared slider turtle sleeping underwater.  

turtle sleeping

Hibernate and breathe through their butts

turtle hibernating

Many people do not know that red-eared sliders are able to hibernate underwater for months. Once the river/lake freezes over, they typically go to the bottom and nestle themselves under some dirt or plants.

Similar to when they sleep, they are able to significantly slow down their heart rate and metabolism which causes them to not need a lot of oxygen.

While it sounds crazy, red-eared sliders are able to generate some oxygen through their but when they hibernate. Basically, they have some vessels on their but that are able to capture oxygen from the water, which they then transfer into their respiratory system. You can learn more in my article on can turtles breathe through their butts.

Can climb

red-eared slider climbing tree

While turtles are not the fastest animals, they are more nimble than they look. Despite their large shells, turtles are able to climb a wide range of surfaces. This includes concrete, gates, mesh, and even trees.

For this reason, it’s important to make sure that your water level in your tank is well below the top of the tank. If the water is too close to the top, they might be able to climb their way out.

Temperature determines their gender

Another little known fact about red-eared sliders is that the temperature can influence their gender. It all depends on the temperature of their egg during incubation. For context, incubation is the period when the embryo starts to form in the egg.

If the temperature during incubation is below 82.4 degrees fahrenheit, then the turtle will be a male. If the temperature is above 87,8 degrees fahrenheit, then the turtle will be a female. If the temperature is between 82.4 and 87.8 degrees fahrenheit, then the turtle could be a male or female.  

They shed

shedding turtle shell

Another fun fact about red eared sliders is that they shed their shells. This mostly occurs when the turtle is young. This is because a turtle sheds their shell to accommodate growth. This is because the scutes (the rectangles on top of their shells) are not elastic enough to stretch when a turtle grows, so instead they just grow new ones underneath when the turtle grows.

It’s a similar process to how our baby teeth eventually fall off when our adult teeth grow underneath them.

Red-eared sliders also shed their skin.

Don’t have teeth

turtle mouth open

Despite popular belief, red-eared sliders do not have teeth. Instead, they use a very strong beak at the top of their mouth which they use to crush food. Here is a screenshot of my red-eared slider’s mouth as she bites her food.

Stack on top of each other

If you have ever seen a bunch of red-eared sliders in the wild, you may have noticed a couple of them stacked and pile on top of each other on top of a log or riverbank. This process is called basking. Turtles do this to get their shells to soak in the UV light from the sun. This helps them synthesis vitamin D, which helps keep their shells healthy.

If you plan on getting your own red-eared slider, you must set up your own basking platform so they can have a place to bask.

41 Years Old!

Some people don’t realize how long red-eared sliders can live. If a red-eared slider is living in optimal conditions, they can easily live past 30 years old. The current record for the oldest red-eared slider ever is 41 years old!


While red eared sliders can’t bark like a dog, they are very capable of making noises. Their most common noise is a hissing sound, which they usually do when they feel threatened. They can also make a clicking sound, which some believe they do for mating purposes. You can learn more in my article on what noises do turtles make.


I hope these red-eared slider facts shed some light on just how cool this turtle species is. If you are considering a red-eared slider for your next pet, it is important that you get a large tank. Red-eared sliders can easily grow past 10 inches, which usually requires a tank that is at least 90 gallons.

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