Red Eared Slider’s Longevity: How Many Years Can They Live?

red eared slider lifespan

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

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How long does a red eared slider live? The question must have popped into your head if you thought about having them as your pet animals.

Generally, in captivity, a red eared slider can live up to 40 to 50 years. But unfortunately, the species has a shorter lifespan of 20 to 30 years in the wild.

It is essential to know some basic information about the red eared sliders before you want to commit to them. The more you know, the better you can care for them in the long run and have a wonderful experience with these cute animals.

The Lifespan Of A Red Eared Slider In Captivity

Although it can be hard to pinpoint the exact lifespan of a red eared slider, there are instances of these animals living up to their 40s. Red eared sliders can have a potential lifespan of more than 100 years if they live in the wild. But the real answer to the question: “how long does a red eared slider live” should be about 40 to 50 years in captivity. Basic facts about the red eared slider:

  • Average Lifespan: more than 25 years
  • Average Length: About 12 inches

You should keep in mind that if you fail to take proper care of your pet turtles, they may not live longer than 4 or 5 years. Once you manage to construct the optimum habitat for the red eared slider and feed them with food that they are accustomed to, then your turtles can live long and healthy lives.

Lifespan Of A Red Eared Slider In Wild

Even though a red eared slider has a lifespan of 40 to 50 years in captivity, it can not pull off that many years in the wild. While on its own, a red eared slider barely lives up to 20 to 30 years. Why is this gap? 

The life of a captive red eared slider differs in many ways from the wild one. I admit the wild red eared sliders get the natural environment to thrive in, which is indeed good. But what about the other essential factors of life?

When a captive red eared slider is getting its feed every day, the wild turtle is fighting against the odds to collect its meal. There is zero assurance and food guarantee, especially for the baby and young red eared slides in the wild. It is because, in their primary ages, these turtles prefer an animal protein-based diet. The adult red eared sliders can survive on the vegetation and herbs. 

A poor diet leads to a weak immune system. So, the wild red eared sliders tend to fall sick more often than the captive turtles. The suffering turtles lose years due to diseases and lack of medical care. 

The problems of the wild red eared sliders do not end here. These turtles not only struggle for food, but they also fight to stay alive. As being an aquatic species, red eared sliders are often the focus of predators.

If a red eared slider ever falls under attack, it hardly gets away with it. Even when the turtle makes it out alive, it will be severely injured. Any wound or illness deducts years from the creature’s lifespan.

Pet Turtle Lifespan & Size Chart

pet turtle lifespan and size

If you want to get a printable version of this amazing chart, click here!

Why Do Turtles Live So Long?

As mentioned earlier, scientists still don’t know the exact reason as to why turtles, and especially the red eared sliders live so long. Turtles are known to have a very slow rate of metabolism, which means that their aging happens at a different rate when compared to other animals. This also means that turtles can live for prolonged periods without food or water.

Turtles can also make their bodies go through hibernation-like states when the environment is too harsh, helping them to sustain themselves even when the surrounding can be unforgiving. Their bodies can also go through anaerobic metabolism, which means that they can survive even without the presence of oxygen. Everything happens a lot slower for turtles.

Surviving in a harsh environment and slow metabolism are not the only reasons why turtles live so long. Researchers assume that delayed sexual maturity, shell protection, stress-free social life, or even healthy eating play roles in the red eared slider lifespan. Let me explain it to you in brief.

Generally, a red eared slider becomes sexually matured at the age of 5 to 7. As the species stays busy surviving, mating is not its primary concern. Also, having the shell as the protection, the turtle does not rush to multiply its population to build a defense shield. Scientists claim that delayed reproduction prevents diseases in turtles and aids in having a long life.

Similarly, according to different reports living a solitary life keeps the turtles stress-free and relieved. Solitude, along with a herbivorous diet, has a vague link to the turtle lifespan. Know all the secrets behind a turtle’s long life from this article.

How To Make Your Pet Turtles Live Longer?

If you are serious about having a pet turtle, then you need to be prepared to take proper care of them. It is the single biggest factor behind their lifespan.

Ensure that your pet turtles are housed in a habitat with appropriate temperature. Install a heat source near the habitat such as UV light so that they can have access to sunlight.

UV rays play a significant role by boosting the red eared slider’s digestion, generating vitamin D3 in the body, and absorbing calcium from food. As a result, the turtle develops a strong body and shell structure.

Similarly, the heating lamp in the enclosure keeps the turtle warm. The red eared slider comes to the basking area and dries its wet body under the heat. So, the risk of having cold diseases and bacterial infections reduces. Without the bulb, the red eared slider will definitely find trouble preventing illness and coping with a normal life.

Keep the habitat clean, and the water source should be filtered regularly to remove toxins. A water filter is the best device to do that task.

Red eared sliders make a lot of mess inside the enclosure. And any compromise in the water quality leads to skin or shell diseases in the turtle. Thus, a powerful water filter should be installed to maintain water hygiene, pH, and chemical condition. For the best budget friendly tank filter and buying guide, check this article.

Keep the habitat clean and the water source should be filtered regularly to remove toxins. As your turtles grow to their adult size, you should buy larger glass enclosures to house them. Even when the turtle is small, you should not take any chance with the tank size.

The enclosure of the pet should be wide and spacious. You may not know, but a congested habitat often causes the turtles stress and anxiety. So, providing the turtles with a large tank will be the smart move.

For baby red eared sliders, a 55-gallon tank will be more than enough, but for a single adult, you need to afford a minimum of a 120-gallon aquarium. In the case of raising multiple turtles in the same tank, go for larger tanks.

Another essential thing that you need to pay attention to is the diet of your pet turtles. Earthworms and small fishes can act as treats for your pet animals, while green vegetables such as lettuce should act as the staple diet for these pet turtles.

While preparing a meal for the hatchlings and baby red eared sliders, follow the protein and vegetable ratio of 75% and 25%. While being an adult, reverse the percentage. A balanced diet made of vegetables and protein is not enough to keep the red eared slider healthy. Additional calcium and vitamin D3 supplements are necessary to fulfill any mineral deficiency.

Also, keep an eye on the feeding schedule of the pet. Feed your baby red eared slider daily and for the adult one, switch to a thrice a week feeding routine. To measure the food quantity, a 15-minutes rule or the head method will definitely help you out.

Red eared sliders survive rough weather, yet they are vulnerable to diseases. Any severe illness can cost your pet turtle its life. To avoid the damage and intensity of any sickness, you should be prepared first hand.

Take your red eared slider for regular medical check-ups. If you notice any symptoms like nasal discharge, appetite loss, frequent basking, consult a vet immediately.

Once you can ensure all these elements in your house, your pet turtles will be able to live longer and become lifelong partners.

How Fast Do Red Eared Sliders Grow?

Red Eared slider growth rate depends on several things. Namely:

  • Environmental conditions
  • Diet
  • Genetics

Red eared sliders can grow by more than 1 inch per year. This is an average estimate, and factors such as diet and genetics can determine how fast your red eared slider can grow. A diet consisting of a healthy balance of green vegetables and protein sources such as meat and fish can help your pet turtles to grow faster.

Protein helps the red eared slider growth to attain a steady pace. Calcium is another important element that contributes to their growth.

The environmental condition of the red eared slider’s habitat also affects its size. Quality of the UV bulb, installation of a heating lamp, access to a basking dock, even the enclosure size is worth your attention.

You should also let all your pet turtles to bask under the sun. Exposure to a heat source can help red eared sliders to attain their maximum growth potential.

However, health plays another crucial part in the development of the red eared slider. If your pet turtle is healthy and fit, it will grow in a usual way. On the other hand, overfeeding the red eared slider will lead to rapid growth, and malnutrition will definitely hamper the development of the pet.

In many cases, owners complain that they have been treating their turtles with everything. Yet, the pets are not showing the desired growth. It most probably happens due to the genetics of the red eared slider.

Red Eared Slider Growth Rate

The 1st year of the red eared sliders will see them grow to 3 or 4 inches, and then they will grow by 1 inch from the subsequent year. Adult turtles can grow up to 12 inches. If they have strong genetics, they can grow even more.

Usually, most red eared sliders gain their average length at the age of 5 to 6. Around the same years, these turtles become sexually mature.

After the maturity, body growth and development of the red eared sliders slow down. At the age of 8, this species reaches its desired length. So, after that particular period, your pet red eared slider will barely have any growth anymore.

If the weather and environment conditions are optimum, then it will also contribute to the red eared slider growth rate. Conditions in the wild are drastically different when compared to captive environments. Thus, pet turtles that live in captivity usually live longer than turtles who live in the wild.


In conclusion, you can’t do anything else besides taking proper care of your pet turtles. The rest will happen naturally. So, if someone asks: how long does a red eared slider live, then this guide will be able to answer this question thoroughly. You should not try to do anything else to make your pet turtles grow faster.

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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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