The Red Eared Slider is the most commonly kept turtle in the pet trade. Their popularity may be due to their good looks and relatively easy care.The Red Eared Slider makes an excellent pet, as long as the owner is responsible in their upkeep. They do very well with other turtles of their species and make excellent additions to outdoor ponds, if you live in a suitable climate. Like all turtles, they require a good deal of attention in maintaining their health and keeping them free of parasites. All of this can be done with the proper amount of attention to the turtle's behavior. These turtles are, unfortunately, often discarded when owners do not realize the amount of space these turtles will one day take up. Be prepared to house a fairly good-sized aqaurium if you are planning on keeping adults indoors. Large adult individuals may require up to 150-gallon tanks or better still, a pond if the outdoor environment is conducive. These turtles are very amusing to watch, and are usually quite active and entertaining. When adding new sliders to your tank or pond, it is a good idea to get a fecal exam before placing them with other individuals. This helps to prevent the spread of disease. Some diseases may be asymptomatic for long periods of times. While Red Eared Sliders are very popular and often purchased for children, this may not be the best choice, because they do grow to very large sizes, and as sizes increase, their care does become more difficult and expensive. This, along with their long lifespan should be taken into consideration before making a purchase. Turtles require much more frequent aquarium cleaning than some people realize. This should also be considered before purchase. Animal Rescue Organizations across the United States are currently caring for a large number of these turtles that were purchased hastily and later became inconvenient or impossible for their owners to house. The average lifespan of the Red Eared Slider is between 20 and 25 years, though some individuals may live as long as 40 years.
Bright bands on the sides of the Red Eared Slider's head are where they get their name. These bands are not always red, often varying from orange to an almost brick red color; and sometimes they do not appear at all. These bands may also be broken into a few spots and can fade with age. They sometimes also have a spot the same color as their bands on the top of their head. It is not rare to find them now as albino or pastel varieties. When Red Eared Sliders are born, both their carapace and their bodies are a vibrant green. In young adults the shell will often go through a yellow stage, and eventually become olive in color. The carapace at this time is also covered with dark patches, streaks, and lines, as well as patterning in yellow, white, and red upon occasion. The carapace changes colors with age, often turning brown, gray, or even black; and after a time, you have to look closely to see the bands on the sides of their heads, which fade in with these colors. A Red Eared Slider can reach an adult length of anywhere between 5 and 12 inches. Females tend to be larger than males. Males have longer tails than the females and have long front claw nails, which they use in their breeding dance.
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