What is The Lifespan of a Red-Eared Slider Turtle?

Hey, are you the owner of a beautiful Red-Eared Slider turtle? 

Congrats! Now is the time for you to find out the lifespan of a Red-Eared Slider. 

This turtle can live up to 20 years in captivity. However, those who are living in wildness can get up to 70 years, isn’t that amazing? 

If you want to find out more about the lifespan of a Red-Eared Slider and what is affecting their life expectations, read the article below. Enjoy! 

How Long Do Red-Eared Sliders Live in the Wild?

a red eared slider turtle on a hill

Wildness has its problems and advantages. The most dangerous part of a turtle’s life is its youth. The first few years of their life has the biggest impact on their life. 

However, if a Red-Eared Slider lives long enough to become an adult, its life expectancy is far more than the life expectancy of a captive turtle. 

A wild Red-Eared Slider can live up to 70 years due to the natural habitat factors and the constant training of their immune system. Also, the volume of water they live in nature cannot be compared to the water tank in your home. 

Even the biggest water tanks that can be bought are severely smaller than their natural habitats. 

How Long Do Red-Eared Sliders Live in Captivity?

Captive animals are often living a lot less than the wild ones. Their natural habitat is broken, and their instincts cannot adapt to your water tank is, shortening their lives significantly. 

However, there are some advantages to captivity. The first and most important is a stable and rational diet. In wildness, turtles are not as secure as in captivity. 

A captive Red-Eared Slider can live up to 20-30 years. However, this number varies greatly from the quality of its diet, the habitat you build, and other little but very important details. 

If you are looking for information on expanding your Red-Eared Slider’s lifespan, here are some tips and factors that affect it. 

Factors Affecting A Red-Eared Slider’s Lifespan

Your turtle’s lifespan can variate from many external and internal factors. However, you can control the majority of them. Thus, you can either lengthen or shorten your turtle’s life. 

Here are the most important factors that have the greatest impact on your turtle’s health and well-being. 


Food is practically the most important factor in your turtle’s life. The food you are purchasing for your Red-Eared Slider directly affects its health. 

Therefore, your turtle’s diet needs to be as perfect as possible. A young Red-Eared Slider needs to be fed every day, whereas an adult needs to be fed every 2 or 3 days. 

The food you are giving is also very important. Don’t try fireflies. They can contain a toxic substance that is slowly killing your animal. 

Also, try to avoid avocado, onions, and chocolate. They are poisonous to your turtle and cause massive health problems and many veterinary bills.  

The proper diet for a Red-Eared Slider looks this way. The main course should always be high-quality turtle food bought from pet stores. Don’t choose the cheapest option. It will only lead to treatment costs afterward. Also, try and combine turtle food with green leaves. They love spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, and other such greens. 

Occasionally, you can give your turtle a treat. It can include fruits such as apples, melons, and mangos. Also, you can give your turtle a veggie. They love broccoli, carrots, and green beans. Ultimately, there are protein snacks such as worms, shrimp, or little fish pieces. 

Captivity vs. Wild

Turtles raised in captivity live a lot less than turtles raised in wildness. That is because, in their natural habit, Red-Eared Sliders have a lot more space and opportunities to grow. Also, living side by side with other species can increase their lifespan. 

Whereas, Red-Eared Sliders grown in captivity do not have the same conditions as those raised in wildness. However, they have a lot of other advantages. First of all, captive turtles have a balanced diet and no predators to hunt them. 

Another factor that influences lifespan is exercise. Wild turtles obviously have more space and need to swim and walk, whereas the turtles raised in captivity cannot walk and swim for long periods of time. 

There is also the mental aspect of this problem. Mentally, wild turtles are a lot more stable and adapted to changes. Captive turtles have a weaker immune system. Therefore, any kind of stress can cause bad health issues. 


Health is also an important factor that affects your turtle’s lifespan. Like other pets, turtles need regular veterinary check-ups. It will reveal the smallest problems and treat them while no harm is caused. 

You must know some symptoms of the most common problems and how to avoid those problems. The most common symptom is inactiveness. Your turtle will lose its appetite, won’t swim as much as previously, etc. It is the first sign that your turtle is sick. 

Some exterior factors can lead to health issues for your turtle. You must know about them too. 

First of all, you need to remove all the sharp objects in the tank. They can lead to small injuries and deep infections. 

Also, try to avoid putting new animals with your turtles before a week-long quarantine. A quarantine will reveal all the problems an animal might have and, as a consequence, they will not infect your turtle with bacteria or fungus.

The most common diseases for Rea-Eared Turtles are shell rot and respiratory infections. Respiratory infections can be detected by common symptoms such as loss of appetite, runny nose, and inactive behavior. These kinds of infections are usually treated with antibiotics 

Another common disease is shell rot. It is caused by fungus or bacteria and, if left untreated, can spread to other parts of the body. It can be detected by a light spot on your turtle’s shell. 


Yes, turtles need to exercise! They need regular physical activity to maintain a healthy and balanced life. 

Your Red-Eared Slider will absolutely love it if you get a turtle tank with both water and land. This way, you’ll provide the much-needed exercise in both water and land areas. 

For the land part, you need sand or gravel. Red-Eared Turtles love that kind of material. Also, you need to think about the cleanness of the water. It needs to be as clean as possible for your turtle to be comfortable. 

Having made these arrangements for your turtle, you can be sure that it will have plenty of room to move around. Exercise will help both mentally and physically. 

How to Increase Your Red-Eared Turtle’s Lifespan?

It’s no secret that every single person who owns a pet wants to increase their lifespan. Red-Eared Slider owners are no exceptions. 

Now that we know about the factors that can affect the lifespan of your turtle, it’s time for you to find some pro tips on how to increase your Red-Eared Turtle’s lifespan. 

Get a Proper Tank

Your tank’s size is literally crucial. If you want your turtle to live a long and healthy life, the best thing you can do is to buy the biggest tank you can find. There are some factors that cause this to happen. 

First of all, the more water you have, the better for your turtle. There will be more oxygen and more space for it to swim around and exercise. An adult Red-Eared Turtle needs around 120 gallons of water and a very big tank. 

If you don’t have the money to buy a big tank, you can choose a smaller option if you buy a baby slider. For a baby Red-Eared Turtle, you will only need a 55-gallon tank.  

Also, you need to keep in mind that more turtles mean more water. Therefore, if you buy two or three turtles, you need to add 10 gallons of water for every turtle. 

Last but not least, you can add a piece of land to their habitat. This way, you’ll add a bit of fun to their lives and, consequently, their lifespan will increase significantly. 

Also read: Best Tanks for Red-Eared Sliders

Temperature & Lighting

Proper body temperature and lightning will lengthen your turtle’s lifespan significantly. 

Being cold-blooded creatures, they depend on external temperature sources. Therefore, you need to add a thermometer and some heat sources to keep the water temperature high and nice. Also, you need to keep an eye on the thermometer every now and then. 

Lightning is also very important. Full-spectrum lighting can increase the speed of the process of making calcium. The proper amount of vitamin D will cause calcium to be absorbed easier in the gastrointestinal tract. 

As you know, calcium is a very important mineral for the turtle’s body. Therefore, full-spectrum lighting is a must in your water tank. 


Red-Eared Turtles are messy animals. Along with frequent water changes, a proper filtration system must be installed as soon as possible to keep the water clean. The best scenario is to install a filtration system the minute you buy a tank and the first turtle. 

Clean water is a must for every reptile. However, many Red-Eared Turtles do not know about that. Another great tip in order to make your water quality better is to change the water as frequently as possible. 

That way, you’ll avoid unnecessary problems with the formation of different bacteria, fungus, and the apparition of infections. 

The first cause of most health issues for Red-Eared Turtles is poor water quality. That is why poor water quality increases the chances of different blood or internal organs infections.

A water filtration system makes your, and your turtle’s life a lot easier. 


A healthy diet is a must for every living being. Red-Eared Turtles are no exception. A proper diet can increase your turtle’s life significantly. 

Red-Eared Sliders are omnivores and can eat practically everything you’ll give. However, there are some rules and forbidden types of food for them. 

You, under no circumstances, should give your turtle chocolate, onions, or avocado. It can cause food poisoning and a lot of health issues. Also, avoid fireflies. They contain a toxic substance that is slowly killing your turtle. 

Instead, try and build a healthy diet for your turtle. Turtles are omnivorous, so they require a mix of vegetables and animal protein. Start with turtle food you can buy in every pet shop (Also check out Is It Legal To Keep Deep Sea Creatures As Pets?). Just don’t choose the cheapest option. It will lead to major health issues. 

After choosing a can of turtle food, it’s time to chop some leafy greens. Turtles love leaves of any kind. Therefore, any type of lettuce or spinach will do. 

Your turtle will definitely need some treats. You can choose three types of treats: veggies, fruits, and protein sources. For the veggies, you can choose broccoli and carrots. Mangos, apples, and even melons will do as a source of fruits. Last but not least, as a source of protein, shrimp, small pieces of fish, and worms. 

Also Read: How Often to Feed a Red-Eared Slider?

How Old is The Oldest Red-Eared Slider?

Turtle looking into camera

The oldest wild Red-Eared Slider is probably more than 70 or 80 years old. 

However, we know for sure that the oldest Red-Eared Slider kept captive was 41 years old. An amazing stat for a turtle living in a water tank, far from its natural environment and natural food. 


Red-Eared Sliders are one of the most popular and common species of pet turtles in the world. They can live up to 40 years in captivity. Therefore, if you buy a turtle as a pet, it is literally for life. 

Dorothy Razo

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