How Does Red Eared Slider Mate?

How Does Red Eared Slider Mate

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

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As you already know, red eared sliders like any other reptile lay eggs to reproduce. But not all of the eggs are fertile. Like chickens, turtles lay infertile eggs without mating. But if the turtle is to reproduce it must mate.

A general misconception is, red eared sliders can reproduce asexually. It’s not possible. Even though the turtle can lay eggs without any male, infertile ones don’t hatch. Thus no reproduction. So it’s very much important for red eared sliders to mate as it initiates reproduction of the next generation.

So, how does red eared slider mate? In the mating seasons, the male red eared slider would swim in front of a female jiggling his fingernails. They do this to attract the female turtles. If the female slider accepts the proposal they start the process of fertilization.

Reproduction is one of the most important parts of an animal’s life. Evolutionists believe it to be the purpose of animal existence. It’s a very delicate yet vital process. You have to have an idea about your pet’s reproduction behavior if you want its next generation to survive.

Form this article, you will get insights on how does a red eared slider mate. You will get to know about its mating behavior as well as reproduction so that you can prepare yourself for your red eared slider’s offspring (Or not!).

Before learning all about its mating behavior, you must first consider what you want. Whether you want male or female offspring or if you want hatchlings (baby red eared sliders) at all.

You have to decide what you want because these sets of information will take you to where you want to be. So read them closely and consider your decisions wisely.

How Does Red Eared Slider Mate?

Mating is the first and foremost requirement for reproduction. It’s not only for the red eared slider. It goes for almost every species on the planet. So the purpose of the mating is to reproduce or to pass on the gene. But how does a red eared slider mate?

If given the proper environment, red eared slider usually mates between March and July. They will mostly mate during the day as they need light and heat. The mating takes place underwater.

Before the mating occurs, the turtles engage in courtship. Courtship is the period when the animals try to grow their intimacy toward each other. In this process, the male turtle swims in front of the female red eared slider. Then the male turtle directs pheromones toward the female turtle by wiggling and shaking his fingernails at her. If the female accepts the call she swims toward the male and sinks to the bottom with the other one and mates there.

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This is the courtship ritual of a red eared slider. It usually takes up to 45 minutes while the mating takes around 10 minutes to complete.

Things To Keep In Mind

Red eared sliders are effective breeders. They give birth to 30-35 eggs depending on their size, weight, and age. The female red eared slider must be at least 5 years old if they are to mate and lay fertile eggs.

In case of the males, the age of sexual maturity is 2 to 4 years old. The size is also a matter here. Any turtle less than 4 inches won’t mate. It’s important for you to know how old your turtles are so that you can make the necessary arrangements.

It is not always recommended to let your turtles mate. If you are new with red eared slider then it would be better if you prevent them from mating. But how do you determine how old your red eared sliders are?

If you want to prevent them from mating you need to know their age first. Well, there are several ways to that. The most effective ways are counting the rings on the turtle’s scutes and to compare its size in the size chart.

To determine your red eared slider’s age by counting, you need to take a good look at the scutes. Scutes are the layer that covers the turtle’s shell. If you look closely you will see rings. Count the rings and divide by 2 to get an estimation of their age.

You can also compare your turtle’s size to the one given in the chart and you will get to know how old your red eared sliders are.

Knowing your red eared slider’s age is important when it comes to the matter of mating. As they mate at 5 years (in case of male it’s 4) you can separate them before mating if you know their age.

Mating In Tanks

If you are recently familiar with red eared sliders as your pet, then it is strongly recommended to not let it give birth. You must stop the mating.

First of all, giving birth in the tank needs a lot of arrangements to be done. They, as a species, are familiar with natural pond water. Their babies need it. If you can’t provide them with that they will have a hard time surviving. The water in your tank doesn’t contain all the natural component pond water does.

Also, the red eared sliders are used to soil when born. The mother buries the eggs under the ground so as to protect them from any harm. When born, red eared sliders emerge from under the ground. If you keep the turtles in the tank where there are gravels, they would hide the eggs under the gravel. And upon their birth, the vulnerable hatchlings (baby red eared sliders) will be exposed to hard rocks.

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It can cause great damage to their shells and skin. They may even die. You don’t want that to happen. Red eared sliders are a very social being. If their children die she will get into depression and sulk all the time.

Besides, it’s illegal to own baby red eared sliders. The baby red eared slider or, more commonly known as hatchlings, carries Salmonella infections. It mainly attacks children and infants. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned baby red eared slider in 1985. So it’s better to not let the red eared sliders mate.

You shouldn’t risk the birth of hatchlings if you don’t have the proper knowledge and time to take care of if effectively. And a tank is certainly not the best place for a red eared slider to give birth.

So you should prevent them from mating.

Things You Can Do To Prevent Mating

If you are an amateur with red eared sliders you shouldn’t consider letting them give birth to babies. There is a huge responsibility when it comes to taking care of babies. If you can’t do that you should prevent your red eared sliders from mating.

Here’s what you can do to your matured red eared slider to prevent them from mating:

  1. If you see your read eared sliders approaching for mating, place them in different tanks. If you don’t own another tank place your turtle in someplace safe for a couple of days. Red eared sliders mate between March and July. Try to keep them separated during this period. But if you place your turtle outside the tank you have to make sure it has access to water and UV light.
  2. If you don’t have any place to keep your turtles separated, you can divide the tank in a half to place your male and female separately. Put a barrier in the tank but keep basking place on both sides. It is mandatory for a turtle to bask. It is as necessary as eating.
  3. You can consider abortion. Watch out for the eggs. Dispose of the eggs as soon as you find them. Killing them after birth is a lot worse than not letting them born.

Bear the consequences and health risks in mind. But even if, after all that, you want baby red eared sliders to hatch, you have to be very cautious and dedicated. Both you and your red eared slider will feel bad if the hatchlings are hurt.

Tips For Mating

If you want your red eared sliders to mate, give them an adequate environment. You will have to:

  1. Prepare the tank for mating. If you have a 30 gallons tank (which is recommended for multiple red eared sliders) fill the tank with room temperature water up to 6 inches. The water needs to be deep to allow the male to easily mount on the female.
  2. Make sure the whole water in the tank is clean. Maintain a pH level of 6-8 (it is the perfect rang of pH for hatchlings).
  3. Keep the basking area and the tank spotless. Check daily to ensure its cleanliness. The pregnant red eared slider basks more than usual. So make the basking platform neat and clean.
  4. Place the turtle in normal surroundings. The pregnant red eared slider will search for the ground to dig and place her eggs. For this, you can take a big box and fill it with fresh soil to allow the turtle to dig the ground.
  5. Place the soils with the eggs inside the tank before the eggs hatch. Make sure you keep the temperature around 30 degrees Celsius to ensure the best environment for the hatchlings.
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Do these things to make sure the hatch of healthy turtle babies. It takes a lot of effort to maintain a pregnant red eared slider. You have to be dedicated, otherwise, you won’t be able to take care of the eggs let alone the babies.

If you are willing to take these measures you can allow your red eared sliders to mate and lay fertile eggs.

Why Won’t My Red Eared Slider Mate?

Even after giving the perfect environment, a red eared slider can be reluctant to mate. You will see your turtles moving separately and not getting close to each other. There can be certain reasons for them to not mate.

Such as:

  1. The male red eared slider can be aggressive. Maybe he is hurting the female turtle. Red eared slider performs courtship dance not only when they want to mate, but they do this even when they are about to initiate a fight.
  2. The female slider may not like the male one. Mating initiates once the female responds to the male red eared slider’s call for mating. The female one may not like him and this can prevent them from mating.
  3. Maybe the female red eared slider isn’t ready yet. A female red eared slider is ready to give birth when it becomes 5 years old. But it can take her 2 more years. It’s completely natural.
  4. The male red eared slider may not want to mate or is afraid of the female one.
  5. The temperature is not suitable for them to mate.

Take these points into consideration and try to avoid them as much as you can. Place them separately, keep the tank clean, maintain the water condition and don’t ever force them to mate.


Red eared sliders mate every year. If you really want to breed them, you have to wait to make sure you can handle that. The above information hopefully has provided you with the necessary knowledge you needed to know about their mating behavior.

Keep these in mind and treat your red eared slider that way. They will do what you want them to do so. It’s completely up to you.



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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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