Map Turtle Vs. Red Eared Slider: Which One is Better?

Map Turtle Vs. Red Eared Slider

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

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Both map turtle and red eared sliders are popular as pets. But the question is which one is better? Which species will prove itself as a better pet for the beginner turtle keepers? And the most important question is, why?

Red eared sliders are hardy, eye-catching, human friendly, and they can survive in rough environments. On the other hand, map turtles are excellent swimmers, good looking, and can cope up with the captive environment easily.

So, which one of these two will make a better pet for you? Do not worry. I will answer all the questions for you. In this article, I will try to explain, between the map turtle and red eared slider, which turtle species is the best for you and why.

Which Qualities Make a Turtle Better as a Pet?

People often ask me to suggest a better pet between two turtle species. Before answering their question, I tell them to go through the following characteristics of both pets:

  1. Size
  2. Lifespan
  3. Market price
  4. Available species
  5. Housing requirements
  6. Food habits
  7. Behavior
  8. Vulnerability
  9. Availability

You can ask me why I am suggesting going through these characteristics. By considering each point, you will get a clear idea about each species, which will help you make a final decision.

Now we will do the same thing here. We are going to consider each of the characteristics above for a map turtle and a red eared slider. And at the end, we will be able to draw an overall comparison between a map turtle and a red eared slider and select the better one as a pet.

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Size Comparison

Average size differences between an adult map turtle and an adult red eared slide:

Map TurtleRed Eared Slider
An adult male map turtle can grow between 2.5 to 6 inches (6.5 to 16 centimeters).An adult male red eared slider can grow up to 5 to 9 inches (13 to 23 centimeters).
An adult female map turtle can grow between 4 to 12.5 inches (10 to 31.7 centimeters).   You can learn more about how big map turtles get in captivity here.An adult female red eared slider can grow up to 10 to 13 inches ( 25 to 33 centimeters).

If you want a smaller pet turtle, I suggest you go with the map turtle species. Because most of the map turtle species, Alabama map turtle, Black knobbed map turtle, or Pascagoula map turtle, are small and need less space to raise.

Who Has a Longer Lifespan in Captivity?

For many turtle owners, the lifespan of the pet matters a lot. Both the map turtle and red eared slider, have a shorter life expectancy than most other turtle species.

The lifespan of a captive map turtle:

The average lifespan of a map turtle is around 15 to 30 years in captivity. But some species can live up to 100 years, and some have a shorter lifespan of about 5.5 years. You can know more about lifespan of a captive map turtle here.

The life expectancy of a captive red eared slider:

The average lifespan of a red eared slider is around 20 to 30 years. But it can live up to 40 years with great care. You can know more about lifespan of a captive red eared slider here.

Market Price Difference

There is a noticeable difference in the market rate of a map turtle and a red eared slider.

Map TurtleRed Eared Slider
The average price range for a map turtle is around $25 to $1000. The cheapest rate for a map turtle is about $6, and depending on the species, the price can go more than $2000.The market price of the red eared slider is reasonable. The average price range of a red eared slider is around $15 to $50.
Learn more about map turtle’s cost here.Learn more about red eared slider’s cost here.

I have mentioned the current market rate of both species. The cost can vary depending on the species, size, gender, and age of the turtle. I recommend you buy the one pet that will fit in your budget.

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Species Availability

The more the number of subspecies available, the more choices we will get to select the perfect pet for us.

Map turtle subspecies:

Map turtle has more than 14 subspecies and hybrid species under its name. Most of them can be raised as pets. Some of those subspecies are:

  • Mississippi map turtle
  • False map turtle
  • Cagle’s map turtle
  • Black knobbed map turtle
  • Ringed map turtle
  • Yellow blotched map turtle
  • Alabama map turtle
  • Texas map turtle
  • Barbour’s map turtle
  • Escambia map turtle
  • Pascagoula map turtle
  • Northern map turtle
  • Ouachita map turtle
  • Sabine map turtle
  • Pearl’s river map turtle

You can learn more about the subspecies of map turtles here.

Red eared slider subspecies:

The red eared slider is the sub-species of the Pond slider species.

Housing Requirements

Both map turtle and red eared sliders are semi-aquatic. So they have similarities in their housing requirements. I will give you an overall idea for the housing of both the species.

Housing requirementsMap turtleRed eared sliderComment
Tank sizeFor an adult male map turtle, you will need a 75-gallon tank. For an adult female map turtle, you will need a 125-gallon tank.For an adult male red yard slider, you will need a 90-gallon tank. For an adult female red eared slider, you will need a 125-gallon tank.The tank size depends on the size of the turtle. The bigger the turtle, the larger the tank you need. Most of the map turtle species are smaller than the red eared sliders. If you have less space, you can buy a map turtle.
FiltrationMap turtles do not prefer dirty water. So a high-quality filtration is recommendable.Red eared sliders can survive in sub-optimal situations. So, you can use any water filter in the tank.The map turtles are more sensitive than the red eared sliders when it comes to water quality. So, think before you make any decision.
Basking lightsMap turtles are great at swimming. Most of the time they spend underwater, and during the rest time, they stay at the basking dock drying their wet bodies. So, a quality bulb is always recommended in the map turtle’s enclosure.  Red eared sliders are semi-aquatic. They prefer warm basking dock after spending time underwater. A powerful basking light can provide them with the heat they need to dry their wet bodies.Both species require the same type of basking or heating lights.
UV lightsUV lights play a significant role in keeping a map turtle physically and mentally healthy.Like all other turtle species, a red eared slider also needs UV rays to stay healthy and strong.No matter which turtle species you choose to raise, you will need to set up a good quality UV light in the enclosure.
Tank water heaterEach map turtle’s enclosure requires a heater to keep the water warm.Though red eared sliders can survive any environment, they prefer warm water. That is why you have to set up a tank heater to make the enclosure comfortable for the pet.As both species need water heater in their tanks, you can use the same model for both the tanks.

Comparison of Food Habits

As both the map turtle and the red eared slider are omnivorous, their food habits are almost similar to each other. Before buying any turtle, you have to consider its food habit. Look through the list and make sure you can provide the pet with its necessary food items.

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Here is a table that will indicate the food preferences of both map turtle and red eared slider.

Comparison variablesMap turtleRed eared slider
Food preferencesSnail, krill, fiddlers, duckweed, green leaf, kale, commercial foods, vitamin, and calcium supplements.Feeder fish, krill, blood worm, lettuce, water fern, squash, zucchini, commercial foods, vitamin, and calcium supplements.
More InfomrationClick here to learn more about map turtle feeding.Click here to learn more about red eared slider feeding.


Though both the turtle species are comfortable with humans, red eared sliders are friendlier than the map turtles. Map turtles can bite the owner if he is feeding it with his hands. On the other hand, red eared sliders play and beg for food. They love eating from the owner’s hand.


Depending on the environment, both the species can be exposed to different health conditions. A slight change in temperature can cause serious health issues to them.

If you ask me which one needs more care, the answer will be map turtle. We know that red eared sliders can survive in rough environments. But the map turtles can not live in low-quality water and fall sick easily.


As an experienced turtle keeper, I believe one thing, raising a turtle in its natural area makes it easier for the pet to cope with the captive environment. Though both map turtles and red eared sliders are available throughout the USA, buy the one available in your area.

The map turtles can be found all over the United States, especially in the southern river systems. And the south-central and south-eastern part of the USA is the natural range for the red eared sliders.

Go through all these characteristics of both the turtle species. See which one is more suitable for you. If it is map turtle, it’s an excellent choice. If not, go and buy a red eared slider.

I always say one thing. It is not the species that make a great pet, but how comfortable you are with the pet. If you are satisfied with a turtle, even if that is less popular, that pet is better than any other species.

Can You Put a Map Turtle With a Red Eared Slider?

As both turtles have the same housing and food requirements, they can live together. You must consider their sex, size, and age if you are planning to put a map turtle with a red eared slider. The young and adult turtles can be aggressive towards each other.

Make sure you are providing enough food and space for both the species. The red eared sliders are more aggressive than the map turtles when it comes to fighting. Although the living compatibility depends on the individual turtles, you must manage a separate enclosure for any emergency.

Can a Map Turtle Mate With a Red Eared Slider?

The answer is yes. A map turtle can mate with a red eared slider because of the similar genetic codes. But the question is, should you let them do that?

You’ll most probably get a hybrid hatchling by breeding a map turtle and a red eared slider. That questions a lot about the purity of both the species and also, the female turtle may suffer from some medical conditions because of this. So, if you notice your map turtle mating with a red eared slider, I recommend you consult a vet immediately.


Both the map turtle and red eared slider are great as pets. I hope by now you have decided which one you want to buy. If you have any further queries, do not forget to notify me.

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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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