What is the Best Turtle for a Pet?

Thinking about getting a pet turtle but wondering which one to choose? There is a vast variety of turtle species and some of them make better pets than others.

What is the Best Turtle for a Pet?

The best turtle for a pet is the Red-eared slider. Red-eared sliders are readily available, easy to keep, and generally have outgoing personalities.

Red-eared sliders are great swimmers, and are therefore very fascinating to watch and observe.

This blog covers the important stats, fun facts, average size, and general health of Red-eared sliders. This information will kick start your research on whether a Red-eared slider will be right for you and your family.

Red-eared sliders: The Best Turtle for a Pet

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The red-eared slider is a subspecies of the pond slider. They are perhaps the most popular pet turtles. Most of these turtles originate from Mexico and some areas of the Caribbean. However, red-eared sliders can now be found in just about all states in America.

They are named red-eared sliders for the distinctive red streak on each side of their face. These adorable turtles tend to be even-tempered and are readily available.

  • Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta elegans
  • Other names: Red-eared terrapin, Red-eared slider turtle, Red-eared turtle, Slider turtle, and water slider turtle.
  • Diet: omnivorous
  • Care level: moderate
  • Size: can grow up to 12 inches in length
  • Color: Their skin is green with bright yellow stripes. There is a patch of red behind each eye.
  • Lifespan: can live for between 20 and 40 years
  • Environment: Aquatic environment with dock area for basking

If you are interested in red-eared sliders, you should check out these red-eared slider fun facts.

Housing your Red-eared slider

The wild Red-eared sliders live in ponds, lakes, marshes, and in slow-moving rivers with soft, muddy bottoms. They are easy to acquire and relatively simple to care for. They are semi-aquatic and need a land area to bask. You must clean the turtle tank about every two weeks to insure their environment is sanitary. It is important to have a good water filter for your turtle tank.

Small tanks are good for baby Red-eared sliders. However, as red eared sliders mature, they will require a large tank that can hold at least 75 gallons of water. You should maintain good water quality and provide a warm environment and UVB lighting. The water needs to be about 75 to 85°F. If kept indoors, keep the lights on for 12 hours during the day but turn them off at night.

To learn more about tanks, you should check out my article on the best tank for red-eared sliders.


The breeding season in red-eared sliders lasts from late spring to early summer. Courtship and mating activities for red-eared sliders take place underwater. The females bask on land and lay 2 to 30 oval, soft shelled eggs. Adult female red-eared sliders are slightly bigger than male ones. While it’s not common, pet turtles can become pregnant. Therefore, it is important to know how to tell if a turtle is pregnant.

Feeding your Red-eared slider

As juveniles, Red-eared sliders are mainly carnivorous and become omnivorous as they age. They eat and swallow with their head underwater. Aside from turtle pellets and vegetables, you can feed your baby red-eared slider worms.

When feeding Red-eared sliders, it is important to offer a variety of food. It helps stimulate the Red-eared slider to eat and provides nutritional balance. Wild Red-eared Sliders feed mainly on aquatic plants and small animals, such as crickets, fish, snails, tadpoles, worms, and aquatic insects. If you choose snails, you should read my article on the best snails for turtle tanks.

If you see a red-eared slider in the wild, you should check out my article on what to feed turtles in a pond.


Poor environmental conditions and bad nutrition are among the common culprits of health problems in red-eared sliders. Diseases such as metabolic bone disease (MBD) and vitamin A deficiency are common in red eared sliders. You can see a full list on my article about pet turtle diseases.

Your Red-eared slider can live for many years if it does not have any serious health problems. The captive Red-eared sliders can lead a healthy life if proper setup and care are given to them.

Where to buy pet red-eared sliders?

There are a couple different ways you can buy red eared sliders. The easiest way is to just buy one from your local PetSmart or pet store. They always carry red-eared sliders and painted turtles. There are also some options to buy red-eared sliders online, but this is a little more risky because they have to ship the turtle to you in a box.

You can learn more in my article on how much do pet turtles cost?

Wrapping up

Now that you know everything about Red-eared sliders, what next? Are you going to bring it home and keep it as your pet?

If you are still on the edge about purchasing a turtle, feel free to check out more of my articles to learn more about how to care for a turtle. You can also access my Red Eared Slider category, which has specific advice on how to care for this species of turtle.

If you have any comments, please do let us know. We would be happy to hear from you.

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