The Red-Eared Slider or otherwise known as the Trachemys Scripta Elegans is a rather large sized turtle (some consider them medium sized). They’ve been known to reach a total carapace length of 7 to 9 inches for the males and the females can actually grow larger than the males being 10 to 12 inches. It’s not completely uncommon in some cases to have them grow 2 to 4 inches above the standard length (but this is very rare and only under certain conditions). There are four different subspecies with the Red-Eared slider being one of the four.
The other three species are the Yellow-Bellied turtle, the Cumberland turtle and Big Bend Sliders. All of these turtles make up the species we know as the slider specie of turtles. The body can be identified by the particularly oval shape and they always have a very classic basking turtle style to them. In hatchlings however, the body form will be more circular than it will oval. The dome will be mild and not too steep, the bottom will be rather flat compared to most turtle species and they have a very blunt head. The eye placement is particularly peripheral and you’ll notice that they have webbed feet with claws on them as well. Their tails are generally smaller than most species of turtle.
The shell has a unique texture and integrity which is made of the same kind of texture that your fingernails are made of. The shell is very bony and the internal structure is made of something called Keratin plates that are known as scutes. The upper shell is slightly to moderately domed (it’s been known to differ from each Red Eared slider slightly. One of the unique things about the Red Eared slider though, is that when they withdraw into their shell, they aren’t able to actually close their shell for full protection. Instead, the Red Eared slider relies heavily on deep water for protection against predators.
This is why they need to live near water because while on dry land, they have no form of defense against predators like a raccoon. The carapace of the Red Eared Slider is relatively smooth. However it has been known that in captivity, they have grown a bumpier carapace due to the protein that was being fed to them. They don’t get as much natural protein out in the wild, which may attribute to the smooth carapace texture. The hatchlings will start out with a bright green carapace and skin. The skin has a striped appearance and you’ll notice that the carapace scute pattern is very similar to what looks like a green fingerprint.
The name Red Eared slider comes partly from the appearance of the jelly bean-shaped patches that are located right behind the eyes. Oddly enough, it’s not actually the ears that give it the name but the patches close to the ears. The plastron of the Red Eared slider has many black spots or what’s better described as smudges on them. When Red Eared sliders begin to age, you’ll notice that the color of their carapace and skin become slightly darker with different coloration of the carapace. You’ll also notice that some odd patterns may begin to form or take shape on the carapace as well.
There’s a progress called Melanism that most turtle species tend to exhibit. What Melanism does is, turns the turtle darker and in some rare cases, you might notice that it turns the turtle completely black or abnormally dark. This isn’t common but it can happen when there’s excess dark pigments present as they age. It’s been noted that some juveniles have been able to obtain the same coloration throughout their entire lives but this isn’t expected as most become darker with age. You’ll find that the carapace of a Red Eared slider is very smooth and only has a mild dome in most. Soft shell turtles have a more bumpy and rugged shell because of the terrain they’re used to living in.
The Plastron of the Red Eared slider is actually moderately sized compared to most species of common house pet turtles. They have a more developed plastron than snapping turtles and musk turtles do, but they’re not quite as developed as box turtles. The plastron is also hinge-less which puts it as a huge disadvantage in the wild, because it can’t completely close it shell. However, it’s been noticed that in an environment where there’s plenty of iron or an iron heavy supplement diet has been known to darken the plastron and will give off a darker color as the turtle ages.
The head of the Red Eared slider is a very blunt head. The face is very blunt looking and the eyes are peripheral. The pupils tend to exhibit a bar that can either run diagonally or horizontally through the eyes which are light green most of the time. You’ll notice on the head that there should be a jelly bean like horizontally placed long red patch that is located right behind the eye. You’ll see plenty of green and yellow stripes behind the head and the neck, as this will vary from turtle to turtle. In most cases, you’ll see what looks like a horizontal stripe that will run up the lower part of the head and then it will fork into a Y shape. This Y shape fork will usually run down the lower jaw and will go up to their eye as well.
Not only do Red Eared sliders exhibit patterns like these most of the time, but the western painted turtles will often have them as well. You’ll notice that the lower jaw of the Red Eared slider is slightly more rounded than the following species: Cooters, Painteds and Maps3. Male Red Eared sliders are generally smaller and their domes won’t be as prominent as the female counterparts. The males can easily reach up to 9 inches as long as they’re well fed. Due to the requirements of breeding and mating, the males will be noted to have elongated front claws that will help aid them in their process during mating.
A Red Eared slider’s tail can also be a distinguishable difference between males and females. You’ll notice that the tails on females are much longer than the males but they won’t be as long as the map turtles tails. When a female fully extends her tail, the tail can go well past the edge of the carapace. While the shape of the head often remains blunt, females will tend to develop muscular and bulky looking heads as they age.
An interesting blend of characteristics can be found in some turtles where variations due occur. This happens where species have overlapping features and their living proximity ranges from one to another and inbreeding might be the suspect here. In some parts of the United States, you might see that some Red Eared sliders have red patches that aren’t as yellow but are narrower. These strange creatures can usually be found in the forests of lush area of Kentucky. There have been reports of rare hybrid Red Eared sliders that have been found along these areas as well.
Interesting enough, while most Red Eared sliders usually exhibit the same color pattern, there are actually more color morphs of the Red Eared sliders available than any other species of turtle in the world. The Albino Red Eared sliders are probably the most common turtles to own, and they can range anywhere from $125 to $200. The hatchlings will start out as a cool and calm yellow, morphing into a creamy white texture. However, Albinos despite their light texture will still have that trademarked yellow and red patch along their eyes near their ears.
You should be warned with a Hatchling Albino though, that they require a lot of food and great nutrition because they’re born with poor sight and vision. Studies have shown that their sight is very poor and that they need food placed directly in front of them for a few weeks so they don’t have to search too hard for it. Not a lot is known about taking Albinos outside or keeping them in an outdoor environment, so it’s best to keep them in a captive environment where their skin and carapace is protected while they’re developing.
Pastel Red Eared sliders are what are called abberations. They have an abnormal color patterning that can have red or orange pattern like textures or blotches on the shell. The majority of Pastel Red Eared sliders are female. No one really knows exactly how the pastel sliders are produced but there’s a lot of speculation regarding the subject, including high incubation temperatures, which is dangerous to their health. Pastel Red Eared sliders don’t live nearly as long as a normal Red Eared Slider because of their poor living conditions. They are born with abnormalities and will more than likely die early (about 50% quicker than regular sliders).
They can be very attractive and colorful to look at, but they can also be highly expensive as well. It’s best to disregard owning a pastel slider all together until more information is discovered about them and more is understood about them. The only thing we know is that they’re born with abnormalities due to birth abnormalities or poor incubation conditions.
The Red Eared slider tends to be a very avid basker and you’re going to more than likely want to invest into a platform that will allow them to do so. These are called basking platforms and they’re usually equipped with a special type of heat lamp that will help maintain perfect temperatures for basking. When adjusting the temperature settings, you want to make sure that they have a daytime temperature of 85 to 90 degrees. Also, you want to make sure that the platform surface is completely dry and free of moisture because if it’s not, it can be damaging to the plastron.
Also, if you go with a relatively small enclosure (which is highly discouraged and not recommended), then you’ll have to keep a close eye on the temperature, because it’s too easy for the small enclosures to overheat when there’s a basking platform or lamp inside of them. Monitor the temperature closely to make sure that they’re not being overheated or else you might lose your slider. It’s recommended that you use UV-B lighting since UV-B lighting will provide the proper and necessary means to convert a precursor to Vitamin D3 for the skin.
Also, D3 is used to process calcium as well, which helps their shell and plastron. As for the exact bulbs or fluorescents you should be getting, it’s best to stick with 5.0 or 10.0 tubes. Anything outside of that range is not recommended nor tested officially. You’ll want to get some kind of submersible heater for the water so that you can keep the water temperatures in the appropriate range. You don’t want the water becoming too cold to where they don’t go into it at all, but you also don’t want the water to become so warm that it could burn the turtles.
Turtles have super sensitive skin when it comes to being burned and they’re at a very high risk of being on the receiving end of a burn via hot water. If you can get a hold of one, it’s best to use a Tronic heater guard or a home-made version on the heaters for glass or even a steel heater to prevent it from being damaged. Steel heaters will be a bit more expensive but will definitely be worth the price and far more durable. Also, you need to make sure that you unplug the heater before submerging it into the water.
The reasoning for this is when a heater is in the air, it will become very hot, very quickly. This will create an unsafe atmosphere for any living animal in the enclosure, even if it’s only a couple of minutes. One of the best features of the Red Eared slider is how great of a swimmer they are. They’re natural born swimmers in the water, so for that reason, they require deep water. Of course, you don’t want anything in the enclosure that permits their escape or traps them under the water as well.
There are several options out there for aquatic substrates but they can be a bit price and they’re completely optional. These are for cosmetic reasons only and will give you more to clean, so it’s really up to you. The bare bottom enclosure is the easiest to clean when you’re changing out the water or doing maintenance, but if you must have substrate, then you’ll want to get some soft type of sand. However, some people like the gravel look but gravel aren’t recommended with many exotic pets due to the risk of impaction.
Red eared sliders rarely swallow gravel but there have been rare reports of them trying to swallow some types of substrate, and this might be due to confusing some of the substrate for food. For this reasoning, while it’s rare, it’s better to be safe with sand or a bare bottom type enclosure. What some people like to do is, and this is debatable as to whether this helps development in juveniles or not, is to provide driftwood in the enclosure. What some people might do is provide some driftwood near the surface so that the turtles can rest when they’re not swimming.
This isn’t mandatory and just like the submerged substrate, it’s completely optional. Whether or not you have to turn the lights off at night is highly debatable because there’s not enough evidence for or against it. Some animals however have what’s known as an internal circadian rhythm. These are influenced heavily by the photo period and this basically tells them when to sleep and when to be awake. Some more pricey lamps and aquatic system come with an on and off automatic switch that will cycle every 12 hours. There’s really nothing wrong with doing this, but it’ll be up to you.
Keep track of the health of your turtle if you keep the light on 24/7 and make sure that nothing bad happens to them or their health doesn’t deteriorate. A highly powerful filter will be needed for the tank, specifically for the waste that a red eared slider produces. When a red eared slider produces toxic waste, out comes a substance known as ammonia. These are nitrogen based wastes that are extremely smelly and toxic. Believe me, it’s the last thing you want stinking up your home or apartment, so it’s highly important that you get a powerful filter that takes care of excrete like this.
Any powerful filter will do a process that actually converts that ammonia in a process called bio-filtration. The bio-filtration process will take the ammonia and convert it to nitrate. This entire process can take up to 6 weeks at first but after that, you won’t notice much difference than a clear tank most of the time. Any filter you pick should be rated for at least double the enclosure size that you picked for your animal.
There are no real studies on what exactly ammonia does to health of red eared sliders but we do know that they can and do kill fish. Ammonia will also stink like high heaven to anyone in the immediate area and will stink up your house real quick. Now the real maintenance comes in the water change. You’re going to need to change the water quite frequently to keep a healthy habitat for the slider. The normal recommended about for a water change is about 25% every single week. This is only if the tank is sparsely populated by one or two turtles.
However, if you have a large tank, then a 50% minimum amount of water should be changed out, along with the bottom substrate to help clear the murky waters using an underwater vacuum. There are plenty of these on the internet and whichever one you pick is your own personal preference.
Now while there are abnormally large male red eared sliders out there, the common male can get away with living in a 75 gallon aquarium just fine without any issues. However, the adult females (even just one of them) will require them to be stored in a 125 gallon tank at a very minimum. The reasoning for this is because they’ll need the room for their quality of life, because if they feel cooped up at all and locked into a tight space, their health will suffer greatly. Also, this will help with the filtration process and adding a lot of water.
As for your basking areas, there is a lot of wiggle room here because there’s more than one right answer, and it’ll ultimately come down to a style choice. The floor or “substrate” can be anything from sand, to gravel, to smooth rocks, flat rocks, drift or anything that basically can support the weight of a red eared slider. They don’t particularly weigh a lot, but you want some substrate that isn’t abrasive and still sturdy enough to support something medium sized. While adults can live and grow healthy in smaller tanks, it’ll look like a prison cell for inmates due to them needing a lot of room.
If you would like to house additional red eared sliders, then it’s highly recommended that you increase the size of the tank accordingly. You’ll have to do some measurements based on how many sliders you plan on housing. It’s not uncommon to fit two red eared sliders into the same tank but you should be warned that if you house a female and a male together, it’s highly possible that the male will sexually harass or assault the female. The standard unit for measurement should be adding one half of the enclosure size per slider that you add to the tank.
Hatchling red eared sliders will more than likely be better off to start out in a 20 gallon aquarium with long glass. This isn’t absolutely necessary but it’s the recommended size for optimum growth. As a very rough estimate, assuming you don’t buy the entire thing whole, you can expect to spend anywhere from $200 to $400, depending on the type of materials you buy. This estimate includes the tank, the stand, the hood, the UV-B build, the basking lamp, the bulbs, the filters, the submersible heater, the substrate (if you choose to get any) and any other accessories. However, if you decide to go with something such as a 70 or 100 gallon tank, then you might be looking at $1,500 or more.
What you’ll need is a simple and sizeable enclosure that can do the job. You’ll also need a basking lamp to make sure they have an adequate place to bask in. You’ll also need bulbs for those lamps (there’s different recommendations for this) and you’ll need UV-B lighting. The technical name for this kind of lighting is fluorescent hood. Also, you’ll need to look into getting a submersible heater since these pets are more water bound than most pets.
Don’t go cheap on the filters, because when people buy cheap filters for their enclosures, the place will start to stink up really fast. Find a filter that has a rating for at least double the maximum tank size. It’s far easier on your wallet to buy all of these items one by one rather than buying an entire system setup somewhere, because they’ll charge you an arm and a leg more.
For ideal temperature and heating conditions, you want to make sure that your air temperature is at a very moderate 70 degrees. Some people have gotten away with going up to 80 degrees, but low 70s seems to be the safe spot. That’s the air temperature. The basking temperature however can be a bit higher because Red Eared Sliders like to bask in warm temperatures. For basking temperatures, we recommend 85-90 degrees. If you do go up to 90 degrees, remember to keep it low 90s or you’ll risk burning out the pet.
You’ll have to keep a close eye on your water temperature as well. Unlike some breeds of pets, you actually need to make sure that the water temperature for hatchlings and juveniles is warmer than it would be for adults. For the adults, you’ll want their water temperature to be a nice and moderate 72 to 76 degrees. As for the hatchlings, they require a slightly warmer water climate with temperatures ranging from 78 to 80 degrees as the ideal temperature.
When Red Eared sliders aren’t in captivity and live in the wild, they’ll encounter a wide range of climate changes across the range. For this reason, if you have the equipment and the budget to control the temperature, these pets are great outside pets and survive just fine. It may be more work than it would to place them in an inside enclosure, but it’s far more appealing and they thrive better in captivity when there’s an outside enclosure. If you live in the southern part of the United States or some other warm climate countries, you’ll find that it’ll be easier to raise these pets and keep them alive for their expected life duration.
It’s common science to see people adapt to the environment that they live in overtime and to get used to the temperatures they stay in. One thing you have to understand about the Red Eared slider is that they have adapted to and are used to living in the warm climate. If you choose to raise them in an area that gets snow or go further north, then you might lose them in the winter if you choose to keep them as an outside pet. People in areas that experience cold winters need to have an inside enclosure with an appropriately warm enclosure to adjust for the season.
Red Eared sliders will go throughout their lives being omnivores which start out as carnivores. Basically this means that as a juvenile, they’re going to prefer live and meat type foods, but as they grow into adults, they’re going to want something more along the lines of plants. However, there are some adults and some breeders have noted that they can feed their adults meaty foods without any issues. Also, you can offer adults’ meaty foods and non-meaty foods a majority of the time and the adults will take it, as long as the foods are offered at the same time.
One of the most important things you need to remember is that like a dog, these turtles will keep eating anything protein based as long as you keep feeding it to them. For this reason, you need to make sure you’re controlling their protein intake and making sure you’re not feeding them too much. The symptoms of being overfed include extremely fast rapid growth and a shell that’s arched more than usual. If you start to notice rapid growth, it might be time to slow down the feeding process.
Also, overfeeding has been suspected to cause some health problems such as kidney damage and liver failure in these turtles as well. In short, overfeeding turtles will more often than not, shorten their life span by a significant amount. It’s important to make sure you’re keeping a close eye on the turtle’s diet to ensure not only that they’re eating it all but that they’re growing at a healthy rate and not growing too rapidly.
Here are compiled and small lists of the foods they eat: They tend to eat Mazuri, ReptoMin, Feeding Fish, Gut Loaded or Normal Crickets, Cichlid Sticks or Pond 10. Some of those aren’t as common as others but there is a number of different edible food choices out there that provide them a healthy dose of protein and allow them to grow optimally. Other food that they’ll eat includes worms, krill, blood worms, crayfish, shrimp and even aquatic plants.
A lot of these are relatively inexpensive as well. Some of the aquatic plants that they’ll eat include anacharis, weeds, hyacinth, lilies, lettuce, fern, pondweed, starwort, milfoil, frogbit and more. If you’re looking to feed your turtles a diet that’s rich in vegetables, then you might want to look into some of the least expensive options such as squash, beans, beet, collard, squash, zucchini, leaves, endive, romaine, leaf lettuce, kale, escarole, dandelions and mustard greens. These lists are just a small sample size of some of the foods that they’ll eat and that are healthy for them as well.
Consult with your breeder or the origin of which you got the pet to see what kind of food they were previously feeding them so that you don’t have to break them into a brand new food type. Some breeders and pet owners prefer to use a brand name food that usually will include ReptoMin (which is one of the more notable brands). Obviously, this isn’t mandatory and many of the self-claimed perks by the brand are just marketing tactics, but they do offer some benefits as well.
A good portion of the diets offered by some of these name brand products are about 70% carnivorous meaning that they’ll not only please juveniles but adults as well as it offers both. Remember, adults don’t commonly eat meaty foods but if they’re being offered herbivore foods and carnivore foods simultaneously, and then you’ll have a higher chance of getting them to eat it.
Don’t rely solely on these brand name foods though just to provide all the nutrition that a red eared slider needs to grow healthy. You’ll also need to round out that diet and feed them something completely meat with a lot of protein such as an earth worm or crickets. Crickets are by far, one of the most common meals for household exotic pets. A lot of exotic pets prefer live bait, meaning that they want bait that’s moving around rather than standing still.
Not only that, but crickets are extremely cheap to buy and incredibly easy to find. You can buy crickets in bulk at the same price that you can buy a couple meals of the brand name stuff that doesn’t get you many meals at all. You’re getting a far better bargain and deal with the crickets. Remember, it’s best to include some kind of herbivore meal into whatever you’re feeding them, even if it’s just some leaf lettuce. You can look up the specifications of certain kinds of lettuce for lettuce that’s high in fiber.
Fruits aren’t typically recommended as a snack or main nutrition course for red eared sliders because they don’t commonly encounter fruits out in the wild nor do they eat them. It’s not impossible to get turtles to eat fruit, but it’s hard to break them into and if you only feed turtles fruit, they may not eat at all since they’re not used to the food type.
Why not feed turtles mice? This is a common question asked by brand new pet owners, because people want to feed them hairy products like cheap bulk mice. The reason for this is, red eared sliders and most turtles don’t eat anything with hair out in the wild. They’re not used to eating food with hair on it and it’s not common to try to get them to eat it. It’s also not recommended because they may stop eating if you suddenly change their diet to something they’re not used to. Hair is very hard to digest for these animals and could lead to the formation of hairballs inside of their intestinal track.
As far as sticking to a recommended feeding schedule, you want to make sure that you pick a schedule and stick to it, because you don’t want to confuse the turtle. At the time that a red eared slider is born, it’s going to depend on you for survival and for the first 6 months of their life. That’s something you need to consider if you ever think about trying to breed them.
For the first 6 months of their lives, you’re going to be feeding them commercial pellets (at least that’s what’s highly recommended). Any kind of pellets for turtles or small meaty foods will ideally do. You can get away with feeding juveniles earthworms or crickets as well, but they need to be small to be easier for digestion and consumption. The feeding schedule is basic and straight forward. A juvenile red eared slider only needs to be fed adequately once a day to grow healthy. You want to make sure their appetite is getting quenched, but you want to make sure at the same time that you’re not gorging the turtle as well.
After that first initial 6 months, you can then move on to feeding every other day. The reason for this is, they’re used to their digestion track by then and being a turtle, they don’t need to eat as often because of how they digest food. They’re also great at storing food as well. While it’s not mandatory, you can offer them some small chunks of leaf lettuce or other herbivore food as well if you please. You really don’t have to do this, even when they’re adults but I guess there’s no real downsides to doing this as well.
This is the hardest part of owning a red eared slider. While you’re feeding them for the first year, you have to pay close attention to their growth cycle and make sure that they’re growing adequately, because you don’t want them to overgrow or grow too fast. Overgrowing or growing too fast will greatly shorten their lifespan tremendously. While feeding them, especially for the first 6 months, you need to keep track of their appetite, how much they’re growing and what their activity level is.
If you begin to notice that your turtle is starting to rapidly grow, the shell is starting to become deformed or a severe lack of activity in your turtle, then there could be a couple of things wrong. First, you might not be feeding your turtle enough each serving or you might need to change their diet. It’s been known that an undesired diet over time can depress the turtle and cause them to stop eating later on. There are rarely any reasons that you would ever need to take a red eared slider to a veterinarian. Not only that, but working on a turtle is hard, because the second strange hands get near them, they’re going to withdraw into their shell.
If you notice some shell deformities, then protein might be the reasoning for this and to combat this, all you have to do is simply cut back on the amount of protein that they’re being fed. If you don’t cut back on the protein intake, what might happen is you’ll either damage the intestines of your turtle or they’ll have a permanently deformed shell. While a permanently damaged shell may not be life threatening for most turtles, it’s more of a quality of life thing.
This is a very common question among the reptile community and people who own red eared sliders. Most people want to know if their animal is hibernating and if they’re supposed to hibernate at all. The short answer is no, red eared sliders in fact do not hibernate. However, what they do is a process called brumate. They will tend to stay in the water for longer periods of time and during those winter seasons; they’ll need less air and surface time as they usually would.
Depending on the turtle and the season, red eared sliders will tend to brumate at different variations. For example, in a winter climate and environment, they’ll go to the bottom of a shallow pond or lake and will become inactive. During the winter months in climates they live, the temperature may drop down to 50 degrees in October, and during this time they’ll go to the bottom of a shallow surface and stop eating. Not only that, but they’ll stop defecating as well. Their breathing will slow substantially and they won’t do anything. It’s not uncommon to find them during the winter months under rocks or stumps bromating.
However when the weather is warmer in a climate during winter, they will come to the surface more often. They like to bask during those winter months as long as the temperature is around 70 degrees during the winter season. If or when that temperature drops again to 50 degrees, they’ll return right back to the brumate state. The brumate state will generally end around March or April, with some rare reports stating that owners didn’t see their turtle come up much at all until May.
The energy requirements of a red eared slider are significantly less during the brumate process because the body isn’t processing much and isn’t utilizing much energy.
If you’re looking to breed or mate red eared sliders, you should be warned that each individual slider will require special attention and care if you want it to live a long and happy life. It’s better off to breed a different pet rather than a red eared slider as your first pet, due to the special requirements of breeding them and maintaining them as juveniles. While sliders make great first time pets by their selves, they do not make great first time breeding pets.
Generally, you’ll find that the courting or mating process will occur between the months of March and July for the sliders if you have a female and male together. The mating will differ from most pets that you’re used to though, because this mating ritual will actually take place under the water. It may seem weird but the usual ritual for these animals goes a little like this:
Around or during courtship, the male will frantically swim around the female and continuously flutter the back side of his claws. He will continue to do this around her face and her head. It’s believed by researchers that the reason for this is, the male is directing pheromones towards the female and that’s why he uses his claws, but no one knows for certain why exactly this happens. Then the female can either agree to the mating ritual or not. If she agrees, then she will swim to the male’s general direction and will sink to the bottom.
If she’s not as receptive and doesn’t take kindly to the idea, then she may become aggressive to the male and you will see a fight break out between the two. It’s more often than not that the female is receptive but it does happen. While the courtship process can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, the actual mating process only takes about 10 minutes total.
If you have two males in the same tank, you should be worried if you start seeing signs that one is trying to be courting to the other male in the tank. What’s happening here is they’re not being courting at all but he’s actually trying to initiate a fight. This is what a male red eared slider does when they want to assert their dominance over another turtle. If you notice the courting process going on between two males, it’s best to separate them or stop the fight before it happens, due to the risk of one turtle becoming damaged or hurt.
Young turtles don’t commonly go through the mating process when they’re younger than the age of 5. It’s not uncommon to see them try, but maturity sexually usually happens once they reach 5 years old. They may or may not be able to mate before that time. If the mating ritual was successful and all went well, then the female will start to change her behavior slightly. You’ll notice that the female will begin to bask a lot more because she now has to keep her eggs warm. Eggs need a lot of warmth in order to grow and hatch accordingly.
You may also notice some drastic or severe changes in diet because the process will alter the foods she’s normally able to eat. It’s really not uncommon to notice that some foods aren’t being eaten as much as usual. The amount of eggs that a female can lay will really depend on certain factors such as the body, the overall health and the size of the turtle. It’s not uncommon to have 5 or more eggs but it’s been reported that a female can lay up to 30 eggs.
A female is able to lay five different clutches in a single year of eggs. The clutches should be spaced anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks apart with varying times. The time between when the eggs are laid and mating may be as little as a couple of days or it could actually be several weeks before this process takes place. The eggs production is rapid and the female is almost instantly ready to lay eggs once she has mated. Interestingly enough, the actual fertilization of the eggs isn’t a process that takes place during mating. This process will occur during the actual laying of the eggs.
You’ll notice that she’ll be roaming around the enclosure scratching at the ground and looking for a suitable place to lay her eggs. She’ll spend a couple of days doing this depending on her fertilization cycle and if mating was actually successful. The female won’t spend nearly as much time in the water as usual. During the incubation process, it could take up to 100 days and as little as 50 days for the eggs to actually hatch.
However, if your eggs were laid in the winter and the hatchling come out in winter, then the hatchlings will more than likely spend most of their time in the nest until the temperature is warm again.