How Often To Feed A Red Eared Slider

You may be surprised how much food turtles can consume. Turtles will always beg for more food, and could probably eat all day if they were left to it. This does not necessarily mean that they are hungry, or are starving for food, they are just sometimes a little gluttonous.

If you think that your turtle is pigging out, we have a handy guide of how often to feed a red eared slider. 

Red eared sliders are some of the most popular types of pet turtles across the globe. They are a medium sized breed of freshwater turtle, known to live long, healthy lives for many years. This makes them the perfect companion, but you will need to know how to care for them properly.

How Often To Feed A Red Eared Slider

How Often To Feed A Red Eared Slider

Red eared sliders have a particularly big appetite, and will act as if they are starving all the time! It is important not to give in and overfeed your turtle, as they will take as much as they can get without refusing any food. 

The best way to care for your red eared slider is to feed it once a day. However, you will have to be cautious of what you feed it, depending on how old it is. Red eared sliders of different ages will require different diets.

For example, young red eared sliders will need more protein in their diet every day, whereas older red eared sliders will need more of a vegetable orientated diet to keep them as healthy as possible. 

How To Tell How Old Your Red Eared Slider Is

If you did not have your red eared slider from when it was born, or very young, then you will need to determine its age in order to feed it the proper diet that it requires. Some argue that you can find how old a turtle is by looking at its scutes, but this method is unreliable, and the scutes are hard to find on a red eared slider!

The best way to determine how old your red eared slider is is to examine its turtle shell. You can quite simply find out your red eared slider’s age by looking at the size and the color of the shell!

To do this, all you must do is take a measuring tape or a ruler to determine the size. You will want to measure from the topmost part of the shell from the turtle’s head, down past the middle of the shell and towards the rear. This is to determine the length, rather than the width of the particular shell.

If your red eared slider is of a particular age, then the shell will have varying distinguishable features. A young red eared slider is called a hatchling if it is less than six months old, whereas it would be called a juvenile for six months to two years of age.

After reaching the two year milestone, your red eared slider will be an adult. Each stage in the turtle’s life will have an effect on the color and size of its shell. For instance:

Hatchling (less than 6 months old)

  • Shell will be around 2 inches long, or 5-6 centimeters in length
  • Shell will be a bright tone of green, or a very light shade of green

Juvenile (6 months old to 2 years of age)

  • Shell will be around 4 inches long
  • At this age, the shell will change to a much deeper, darker shade of green

Adult (2 years old or more)

  • Shell will measure more than 4 inches long, and can be up to 12 inches in length
  • Shell will be a much darker color, closer to a black or brown shade

What To Feed A Red Eared Slider

Red eared sliders are actually omnivores, and in the wild, they will eat a mixture of both animal and plant sources. This includes worms, aquatic plants, fish and many other sources of food. 

In most cases, a red eared slider will require a diet of around 50% vegetables, 25% pellets and 25% of another source of protein such as mealworms. 

That being said, what you feed your red eared slider will depend on how old it is. A hatchling and a juvenile turtle have different feeding requirements than a fully grown adult slider and so you should adjust your turtle’s feeding accordingly. 

For instance, a hatchling and juvenile red eared slider will need feeding at least once a day. As your turtle grows into an adult, they actually only need feeding every other day, but they will want food all of the time! 

In addition, hatchlings will need only a small amount of vegetables, and will need much more protein found in pellets to sustain them. You can also treat them to different sources of protein as they will need it! 

As red eared sliders grow to the juvenile stage, they will still need to be offered a few vegetables, but they may not take to them. Juvenile turtles still require pellets for protein, but not as frequently. You may feed a juvenile turtle some protein once a week rather than every few days. 

On the other hand, adults do not need to eat nearly as much. An adult red eared slider will need much more of a vegetable-heavy diet, and will need much less protein as they grow older. With adult red eared sliders, it is recommended that you only offer a source of protein around once or twice a week, depending on how old they are. 

The best vegetables for a red eared slider are kale, anacharis, red-leaf lettuce and romaine lettuce. You will also want to balance their diet with pellets such as Tetra ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks and Natural Aquatic Turtle Food With Growth Formula.

These pellets will ensure that they have the proper amount of protein, however your turtles will thank you for an additional source of protein such as crayfish, krill, earthworms or ghost shrimp.

Why Is My Turtle Eating So Much?

You may notice that your red ear slider is eating very frequently, and begging for lots of food. This does not necessarily mean that it is hungry or starving, as turtles are naturally opportunistic eaters in the wild.

They must find their prey, and never know where their next meal is coming from, so naturally they eat as much as they can when they find it.

However, this is not the case for a turtle living as a pet or in an aquarium, as they will have a feeding schedule where there is always food available. In an aquarium, your turtle has the luxury of having various different proteins, pellets and vegetation to feast on, so it is no wonder they try to fill their bellies! 

You should keep in mind that despite its binge-eating, your turtle is not starving to death, and you should stick to the diet and feeding schedule that is suitable for your turtle. 

Why You Should Not Overfeed A Turtle

Turtles are actually very opportunistic, and will eat whatever is put in front of them. This can cause a problem, and make overfeeding them very easy. However, overfeeding a turtle is not advised as it can cause a few health problems for the reptile. 

Overfeeding your red eared slider can lead to obesity problems and even liver disease, so it is important that you stick to a tight feeding schedule. Turtles can also beg for food from you, and you must resist the urge to keep feeding them! 

In addition, turtles can refuse food sometimes or stop eating to digest the food that they have already consumed. This can also confuse owners and think that they need more food, or there is an issue with the diet.

If you are concerned about your turtle’s eating habits, then consult a veterinarian or professional before making changes to how you feed your turtle.

Conclusion 

If you have a red eared slider, then it is important that you have a good feeding routine. Most red eared sliders can be fed once daily, or every other day if much older.

Additionally, it is vital that you feed your turtle the right foods according to its age and size.

For example, hatchlings can have protein every day, whereas juveniles need proteins every other day, and adults should have very little. In addition to this, adult turtles will need to be fed much less than younger ones, possibly every other day or even just twice a week as they age. 

The best foods for red eared sliders are proteins, pellets and vegetables, with the latter making up the majority of the diet.

With proper care and attention, your red eared slider can live for up to 30 years!

Dorothy Razo
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