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The Red Eared Slider for Turtle Power!

October 1, 2014 | By: Stephanie I. Quesada       Within Reach
The Red-Eared Slider
For Turtle Power!

by Stephanie Quesada

I’ve lived in various apartments where pets were not allowed. They say that in these situations, one can only opt for pet fish, because they are quiet and aren’t really a bother to any neighbors. But fish can sometimes be soo boring, especially since you can’t really pet them like dogs or cats. But one thing they don’t tell you is that you can always opt for a turtle.

Turtles are low-maintenance pets and quiet creatures. They do have a hissing sound or a croaking sound once in a while, but they ultimately won’t bother anyone in your neighborhood. The Red-Eared Slider is one particular turtle I am fond of. They can stay in their aquariums, but you can also have fun with them once in a while because they are allowed to get out of the water sometimes.

When I bought my baby turtle in the pet store, she was as small as a five peso coin. All you need in the early stages of a turtle's growth are a terrarium where your pet can live in, some food, and a bit of water. But once they grow into adulthood, you will need a few more things.

First of all, a good-sized aquarium is a must, because they do grow up to be as big as medium-sized melon halves, and might get constricted with a smaller living spaces.  They also need a source of UV light in case their homes are not in contact with sunlight, and you’d also need a good water filter for the terrarium to lessen your own clean-up work. These turtles poop a lot, and cleaning a small terrarium every two to three days might sound okay, but cleaning a huge tankful of water when the turtle is much larger is a totally different story.

Red-eared sliders are versatile creatures. You can feed them many things, such as pieces of bread, fruit, bits of vegetables, and sometimes even small insects. But like people, they also have their preferences. You can experiment which food they like by giving them small portions at first. You’d easily know which food they like because they’d eat it in a snap! My turtle sometimes eat carrots and cabbage, but she likes bread the most. But you’d also want to have a steady supply of specialized turtle food you can buy at local pet stores, so they’d have the vitamins and minerals they’d need for the day. But don’t forget to fish-out any excess food they can’t finish, as this can really dirty your tank in a short time. The rule of thumb is, one good serving, the same size as your turtle’s head for a whole day, or an amount they can easily finish in two hours.

Cleaning their tanks is easier compared to fish, because you can completely take out the turtle from their aquariums. You can have them walk around your shower area for a bit of exercise, while you scrub the aquarium off. But don’t forget to clean your turtle’s back too, because sometimes grime cakes off on top of it when it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned! Also, be careful with your turtle’s claws. They can really scratch you if you expose your skin to them. I always wear heavy-duty gloves when handling my turtle so that even her claws won’t tear through the rubber.

If you want to own multiple turtles, I suggest you buy them at the same time. These turtles are territorial, and might compete with each other for their own space. Sometimes this results in injury to your beloved pets, so it’s better if they grow up as family so you won’t have to introduce a total stranger to your resident pet.

My turtle, Fluffy, has been part of our family for about 8 years. She’s just slightly bigger than a saucer now, and she’s still as active a turtle as ever. Red-eared sliders also have different personalities. Some may bite you when you place a finger to their face, which I’ve heard feels like you’ve stapled yourself, but Fluffy just hides in her shell when you do the same thing. She also likes swimming much more than basking under the UV lamp or the sun, compared to other turtles who spend hours just wallowing there. Try owning a pet turtle, and see what personality he or she has. It might even take after you!


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