Are Red Eared Sliders Edible?

Are Red Eared Sliders Edible

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

If you are wondering whether if you can eat red eared slider turtles or not you have come to the right place. The first thing you should probably know is that they are not poisonous. Even if you eat them by mistake (that’s very unlikely to happen) you can rest assure that you won’t die.

Are red eared sliders edible? Yes, they are. But as red eared sliders are a very small turtle you may not get a good quantity of meat from them.

There are many more things you need to know if you are planning on eating a red eared slider. I’ll explain everything here.

Should You Eat Red Eared Slider?

You can eat anything that is not poisonous or rotten in any way. Red eared slider in that sense is safe to eat. Like any other turtles, they are nutritious.

Turtle meat contains a lot of protein and almost no carbohydrates. It has very little fat in it.

You can get several other micronutrients from turtles such as selenium, potassium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, zinc and vitamin B12.

Turtle meats are not only nutritious, they are delicious too. You can cook them in different ways to get different tastes. And also they are easy to cook.

But you might just not want to eat red eared slider. Though it’s not that they are toxic or disgusting, there are several factors that can change your mind.

Problems With Eating Red Eared Slider

Here’s why you may not like to eat a red eared slider turtle:

  1. A full-grown red eared slider is 12 inches long. It’s a little bigger than your hand. If you take away the shell and keep only the edible part, it will only provide you with a little amount of meat. And it takes a lot of effort to separate a turtle from its shell. So it’s a lot of effort for a small reward.
  2. As red eared sliders are really small, you are going to need a lot of them in order to fill your stomach. The meat of a single red eared slider won’t do you any good. You won’t even feel you ate one after it passes your throat. So if you really want to taste red eared sliders you will need a whole bunch of them.
  3. Red eared sliders are efficient survivors. It means that they can survive in clean water as well as in a muddy reservoir and even in gutter. You don’t want to eat anything that has ever been in the same place as your feces. It’s not unhygienic if you clean it thoroughly. But still, it feels yucky to eat it.

As you can see, making a red eared slider ready for consumption takes a lot of effort. And that effort will pay you back with only a little. Most people don’t recommend to eat red eared sliders because it’s just not worth it.

But if you want to try it out this article can help you with that too.

How To Eat A Red Eared Slider?

Before trying to eat one, you should keep in mind a few things.

Firstly, you should know that there is no harm in eating a red eared slider both for the species and you.

Every season a red eared slider lays up to 40 eggs. So you are not putting their existence in danger. Their population is huge.

As for you, red eared sliders can be beneficial for your health. Here’s how you can prepare a red eared slider for your meal:

  1. The first thing you should know is you can’t eat the whole turtle. You can only eat portions of it. First, you will need to separate the turtle from its shell. Once you do that you will have to cut off its head and legs because you can’t eat them. As you can’t peel their skin, you will have to cut a thin layer of skin in order to get solid meat.
  2. Cut the turtles into bite-size pieces. As red eared sliders are small turtles you can just divide it from the middle.
  3. As red eared sliders can survive in the direst situations, you never know where they have been. So clean the meat thoroughly.
  4. Make sure you are cooking a fresh and healthy turtle. If it’s been dead for a long time or if it’s sick you shouldn’t eat it. It can carry diseases.

After you have prepared the meat, you can cook it in any way you want. You can fry it or you can make turtle soup.

You will find a lot of tasty recipes online. If you invest enough time and effort, you can be assured to taste delicious red eared slider meat.

What Not To Eat

If you are intending to eat a red eared slider turtle you may want to be aware of some facts. Though red eared sliders are not poisonous, they can be the reason for you falling sick.

First of all, you should never consider eating a baby red eared slider. In the USA it’s illegal to keep baby red eared sliders as a pet. It’s been banned since 1975 because baby red eared sliders carry salmonella bacteria on their skin.

This bacteria can lead to contagious diseases if it in any way gets human contact. So you can realize why you should never eat baby red eared sliders.

But even if you are eating a full-grown red eared slider, you should know that their shell harbor several kinds of bacteria. These bacteria can cause food poisoning and dangerous diseases.

So always thoroughly clean the turtle before and after preparing it for cooking. Be sure to clean its skin properly. It’s recommended to use warm water.

Also, don’t try to eat its head. It does not taste good.


A red eared slider is a turtle to be kept as a pet. They can amuse you and melt your heart with their behavior. But if you consider eating them you can try it out. But bear in mind the consequences before jumping into it.

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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