Red-eared sliders are one of the most common turtle species popular as pets. If you take good care of them, they can be your pet for a lifetime. Eventually, your turtles will want to mate and reproduce.
Besides, your female red-eared slider can lay eggs even without a male partner. But are you ready to take care of your red-eared slider’s eggs?
As mother red-eared sliders do not look after their eggs, you can collect the eggs from their nests and incubate them artificially. But in the meantime, you have to provide a safe spot for nesting and learn how to transfer the eggs to the incubator without causing any harm.
Do not worry. From this article, you will learn everything about taking care of red-eared slider eggs and hatching them. Before that, you should know how to take care of a pregnant or gravid red-eared slider because only a healthy mother can produce healthy offspring.
At Which Age Do Red-Eared Sliders Become Ready to Lay Eggs?
Beginners often wonder at what age their red-eared slider may lay eggs. You can expect red-eared sliders to lay eggs when they reach sexual maturity. While the male red-eared sliders become sexually mature at an early age of 2, the female sliders become sexually mature at 5 to 7 years.
Beginners also often get shocked when they see their female red-eared slider producing eggs without a male turtle present in the enclosure. A red-eared slider can lay eggs with or without a male partner when they become sexually mature. But those eggs will not be fertile.
Remember, it is not necessary that your slider will start laying eggs once it reaches sexual maturity. Some lay eggs at an early age. Others can take time. Also, some red-eared sliders may never lay eggs!
How early they will lay eggs depends on the availability of male partners and temperature. In a warm climate with the presence of a male turtle, you can expect your female red-eared slider to lay eggs soon.
How Do I Know If My Red-eared Slider Is Pregnant?
You may not know the age of your female slider and exactly when it may lay eggs. But do not worry. You can look for some signs and symptoms of pregnant or gravid red-eared sliders. You will see some obvious changes in their behavior.
- Diet Change: Is your young adult/adult turtle eating less than it used to? Then you should keep an eye on it. Pregnant turtles often lose their appetite. They may eat less or choose not to eat at all. They even show disinterest in their favorite food.
- Exploring and Digging: A gravid red-eared slider will start searching for a suitable nesting place. If your turtle enclosure has a land area, it will explore it to find a nesting spot. You will see it digging the substrates of the habitat first with its front claws and then with the rear claws.
- Becoming Restless: A female turtle becomes restless as it keeps searching for a place to lay eggs. You may find your red-eared slider swimming one time, and the next climbing on the basking area or the land.
- Basking Tendency: You may find the female red-eared slider basking too often during pregnancy. But some female sliders may not bask as they used to since they spend more time searching for a place to lay eggs.
- Change in Walking: As the eggs grow inside the turtles and are ready to come out, the turtles feel a slight discomfort while walking. You can see that if you know your turtle’s walking pattern.
- Bumps on the Plastron: A pregnant slider may not develop obvious physical symptoms. However, you can gently pick up your turtle to feel its plastron. A pregnant turtle will have bumps on the plastron where the eggs are.
If you find your female red-eared slider showing all or most of the above signs and symptoms, there is a strong chance that it is pregnant. You can take it to a vet to be sure.
How to Take Care of Pregnant Red-Eared Slider?
If you have a female red-eared slider, take extra care of it during its nesting period. The turtles will use their bodily nutrients to form the eggs. Hence, you must provide your pregnant slider with foods rich in calcium. Also, feed them lots of plant-based food and a good amount of protein.
Your gravid turtle has to release the egg. It also needs a lot of space. So, you should provide a land area for your turtle with a good amount of sand for digging and making a nest.
If your turtle tank does not have much land area, make a separate turtle nest for your pregnant turtle. Transfer it to the nest when it is time for the turtle to lay eggs.
Finally, give your red-eared slider some privacy. A pregnant turtle feels a lot of stress. Therefore, you must handle it with care.
How Long Can A Red-Eared Slider Stay Pregnant?
After mating, turtles will get pregnant within three to six weeks and lay their first clutch of eggs. The time can vary depending on various conditions, such as the temperature and nesting space.
However, the gestation period or pregnancy of a red-eared slider lasts actually for three months. It lays eggs in 3 to 5 clutches over these three months. There can be 15 to 30 days interval between the clutches.
The turtles prefer to lay their eggs as soon as they are ready. So, they desperately search for a safe place to make their nests. If they are delayed in laying eggs, the eggs can break inside and cause serious health problems.
How Many Eggs Do Red-Eared Sliders Lay?
A red-eared slider female can lay 30 to 150 eggs per year with or without mating with a male turtle. As mentioned above, red-eared sliders can lay 3 to 5 clutches of eggs per year. Each clutch can have 2 to 30 eggs.
Compared to many other turtle species, the number of eggs laid by red-eared sliders is low. A sea turtle can produce up to 1,000 eggs per year. However, depending on the size of the red-eared sliders, the number of eggs per ear is understandable.
The number of eggs actually depends on the size of the plastron of a turtle. The larger the turtle gets, the more eggs it can produce in each clutch. So, consider the size and age of your turtle to guess the number of eggs you may get.
What Time Of Year Do Red-eared Sliders Lay Eggs?
Now, when can you expect your red-eared slider to lay eggs? You should monitor the behavior of your female red-eared slider between May to July for signs of pregnancy.
The sliders typically mate with their partners between April to early July. Female turtles can become pregnant within three to six weeks of mating. So, you can expect your turtle to lay eggs from May to July.
As you know by now, turtles lay their eggs in clutches. Each clutch can take 60 to 90 days to hatch depending on the number of eggs and incubation temperature.
Where Do Red-eared Sliders Lay Eggs?
In the wild, red-eared sliders live in various freshwater sources like rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps, etc. They are semi-aquatic turtles. The female turtles choose the moist sand near the water body to lay the eggs. They prefer soft and sandy soil with a sufficient amount of sunlight exposure for the eggs to hatch.
Your pet turtle will also prefer similar conditions to lay its eggs. So, you should provide a nesting area for your red-eared sliders. The nesting space should have wet sand enough to dig an 11 to 12-centimeter deep nest. Or you can transfer the pregnant to a plastic tank containing wet sand for laying the eggs.
How Do Red-Eared Slider Eggs Look Like?
A female red-eared slider lays 2 to 30 eggs in a clutch. These eggs are often oval or sometimes round-shaped. The shell of the egg is not as hard as a chicken egg. It is much softer. It is, in fact, often compared to the hardness of a hard-boiled chicken egg.
However, the egg is strong enough to protect the embryo, and it can provide the nutrients for the turtles to hatch. Baby turtles even feed on the yolk sac for a week after hatching.
Red-eared slider eggs are white and quite small. The eggs are about 1–1.5 inches long (2.5–3.8 cm) and 0.75 inches wide (1.9–2.5 cm). The size of the eggs makes it easy for the turtles to lay eggs through their cloaca, which is also their urinary hole.
What to Do If Red-Eared Slider Lay Eggs?
Your female red-eared slider has laid a clutch of eggs. So, what should you do? You can either throw away the eggs or try hatching baby red-eared sliders.
If your turtle has laid eggs without mating with a male turtle, then the eggs are infertile. Thus, you should remove them from the nest. You can also decide not to hatch fertile eggs if you do not want more turtles.
Nonetheless, you may want to hatch some adorable baby red-eared sliders like many other hobbyists. For that, you must give your red-eared slider a safe nesting area. You can also use an incubator to hatch the eggs.
How To Take Care Of Red-Eared Slider Eggs?
You have to decide how you want to hatch the turtles. You can either let the eggs hatch naturally or incubate them to hatch artificially.
Letting Red-Eared Slider Eggs Hatch Naturally
You might have provided a nesting spot for your slider where it has laid the eggs. You can let the eggs remain there under the sand and let nature take over. But your pet turtle’s eggs do not have much chance of hatching on their own. It can get affected by many factors, such as:
- Sudden changes in temperature
- Changes in the weather
- Risk of being eaten by predators
- Getting crushed
- Getting eaten by turtles
How Can You Protect Red-Eared Slider Egg Nest?
Red-eared slider eggs do not have hard shells. So, they are constantly at risk when left outside in the nest. However, if you can take some protection measures for the nest and eggs, the chance of hatching eggs naturally can increase.
Here are some protective steps you can take for the safety of the eggs:
- Red-eared sliders can lay eggs in a public place where many people walk around. You can post a warning sign to make people aware of the fragile eggs in the nesting spot.
- Animals can step on the nest unknowingly or knowingly. You can warn people about the nesting area. But to keep the eggs safe from intruders, put a wooden or wired fence around your red-eared slider’s nest.
- Turtles can leave their smell in the nesting area. Predatory animals can smell it from far and search for the eggs. Therefore, you must find some way to remove the smell. You can sprinkle some water over the nest to get rid of the smell.
- The red-eared sliders cover the eggs with sand. So, there is no need to cover the eggs with any solid material. Do not use any solid material to cover the eggs. It may affect the temperature for hatching. Also, the baby turtles may suffocate due to being trapped inside.
- Make sure the temperature of the nesting area remains constant. Fluctuation of the heat can cause the eggs to get infertile.
Hatching Red-Eared Sliders Artificially In Incubator
You can choose artificial incubation to hatch the eggs. You will have a much higher chance of hatching baby red-eared sliders artificially than naturally. Also, you can control the temperature to hatch female or male turtles according to your choice.
Again, you have two options for incubation. You can buy an incubator for hatching turtle eggs from the market or build an incubator at home.
You can simply retrieve the fertile eggs from your red-eared slider’s nest and put them in the incubator following the instructions.
But incubators can be expensive. So, many people like to build their incubators from scratch for hatching red-eared sliders. If you decide to use a DIY incubator, ask an expert turtle breeder to learn how to build one.
How to Artificially Hatch Red-Eared Sliders
If you want to hatch red-eared sliders in an incubator, you must follow some strict rules for success. You can find incubators of different styles and sizes. The configuration of these devices can also vary. So, you have to choose an incubator wisely. You can also build an incubator.
Here are the steps you should follow to breed red-eared sliders in an incubator:
Step 1: Prepare A Container To Transfer The Eggs
Before you dig up the nest to get your red-eared slider eggs, you have to prepare a special container for them to transfer to the incubator. You do not need much to make the container.
Get a plastic box large enough to contain the eggs with a lid and a bag of vermiculite. You can buy vermiculite at an affordable price from any garden store. A bag of good-quality vermiculite can be used for years. Drill some holes in the lid of the plastic box so that air can circulate inside the box. Proper ventilation is essential for the eggs.
After that, mix the vermiculite with water. The mixture should not be too dry or too wet. It should be moist, but water should not soak out when you squeeze the vermiculite. Mix one part vermiculite with one part water. Remember, both ingredients should have equal weight. Otherwise, the mixture will not have the desired texture.
After the mixture is ready, put it in the plastic box.
Step 2: Mark the Eggs
Once you spot the nest of your Red-eared slider, you will have to remove the eggs gently from the sand. Before that, you better mark the top of each egg in the plastic box in the same position. You can write the date the turtle has laid the eggs on top of them.
Maintaining the orientation of the turtle eggs is crucial for fertility. The embryo develops within the 4 hours of its being laid. Thus, changing the orientation can kill the embryo.
To mark the egg, remove the sand from the top of the egg. The shells of the eggs are soft. So, you must be gentle, or you can puncture the shells. Then use a marker to mark the top of the eggs.
Step 3: Remove the Eggs from the Nest
After you finish marking the red-eared slider eggs, it is time to extract them from the nest and place them in the plastic box. It is better to use your hands to remove the eggs from the next. That way, you can feel how much pressure you are using on the eggs.
Again, you have to be very gentle. Do not change the orientation of the eggs while placing them in the box. Carefully implant the eggs in the vermiculite in the plastic box. Leave the top of the eggs uncovered. There should be some space between the eggs so that heat, humidity, and air can circulate evenly.
Step 4: Placing the Container in the Incubator
Once you get the eggs in the container, put the container in the incubator as soon as possible. Make sure not to move the container too much. The incubator should be out of reach of children or anyone who can disrupt the incubation process.
Step 5: Set the Temperature and Humidity Level of the Incubator
Finally, set the temperature and humidity level of the incubator. Maintaining the temperature during the incubation process is crucial for keeping the eggs fertile. Not only that, but the temperature also affects the gender of your red-eared slider babies!
So, you must keep the temperature between 82 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Commercial incubators have auto temperature controlling configurations. If you use a DIY incubator, check the temperature inside the incubator with a thermometer.
Turtles born in the low temperature will be male turtles. and the turtles born in high temperatures are females. Therefore, keep the temperature at mid-level if you want a balanced number of male and female red-eared sliders.
Be careful while setting up the temperature. If the temperature is below 80 degrees F or goes over 95 degrees F, your red-eared slider eggs will go bad, which means you will not get any turtle babies!
How Long Do Red-Eared Slider Turtle Eggs Take To Hatch?
If everything goes well during the incubation process, you can expect to see your red-eared slider hatch within 60 to 90 days of incubation. During this time, you should check on the eggs from time to time.
When cracks appear on the eggs, prepare a container for the baby red-eared sliders. Line the bottom of the container with some paper towels. Before placing the hatchling in the container, pour in some water to soak the towels. The towels should get wet, but the water cannot overflow.
Put the baby red-eared sliders in the container. They will stay in the container for a few days, and then you can transfer them to the tank. You do not have to feed them the first few days as the hatchling will feed on their yolk sac attached to their plastron.
How To Tell If Red-eared slider Eggs Are Fertile?
You may come across some red-eared slider eggs in a nest. A red-eared slider can lay 2 to 30 eggs in one clutch. But not all of them can be fertile. Hence, you should know how to check the fertility of turtle eggs before putting them in the incubator.
Here is how you can do it:
- Put the eggs in a safe container without changing their orientation. Then bring them to a dark room. You will need a flashlight to do the test. Pick the eggs one by one and hold them in front of the flashlight.
- The eggs that have red circles inside are fertile. The red circle is actually the embryo. They may also have veins forming inside. On the other hand, eggs with no formation of red circles are unfertile.
- However, turtle eggs that are just laid may not form embryos so soon. Red-eared slider eggs have a pinkish white color at an early stage. Once they form the embryo, they get darker in shade.
- If the eggs do not change their color for a long time, it is a sign of infertility.
- The shell texture of fertile eggs also changes over time. In the early stage, the turtle shell is soft and fragile. But as time goes by, the eggshell becomes rubbery and a bit rigid.
Wait a few days before deciding your red-eared slider’s eggs are infertile. Then check for the embryo formation again. Some eggs may take some time to form an embryo.
Do Red-Eared Sliders Stay With Their Eggs?
New red-eared sliders often wonder if the mother turtle guards their nests. The answer is no. Most turtle species, including the red-eared slider, lay their eggs, bury them under sand and leave the nesting area.
But they are not careless mothers. red-eared sliders hide their eggs well under the sand. In the wild, the mother turtles make a nest in a spot full of plants, leaves, rocks, and other natural elements.
It is best for both the mother and the hatchlings that the mother does not stay with the eggs. Turtles are not good defenders. They cannot do much if a predator attacks the nest. Moreover, the turtle can attract predators to the nest with her presence.
How To Take Care Of Red-eared slider Eggs In Water?
Do red-eared sliders lay eggs in water? They will if they find no other place to lay their eggs. They do not like to do that at all. But they can do it in desperate situations. Some Red-eared slider would rather keep their eggs inside than lay them in the water. It can cause them to get egg bound, which can seriously harm them.
However, if you find your red-eared slider laying eggs in the water, you must take immediate action. Pick up the eggs from the water as fast as you can because turtle eggs cannot remain fertile if they remain in the water for too long. The eggs will rotate, and the embryo cannot hold its place.
Try not to change the orientation of the eggs and place them in a container of vermiculite or sand. If the eggs have not been in the water for too long, you may have a chance at hatching them.
Do Red-Eared Sliders Lay Eggs without Male?
One thing that often baffles new turtle owners is seeing their female red-eared slider laying eggs without the presence of a male partner. Your unmated female red-eared slider can lay eggs without a man when it reaches sexual maturity.
However, their eggs are infertile because eggs cannot get fertile without a male partner. So, you have to get rid of the eggs. A gravid turtle will show symptoms before laying eggs. Hence, take good care of them as laying eggs can be exhausting for the turtles.
Are Red-Eared Slider Eggs Edible?
Yes, red-eared slider eggs are edible. They are soft-shelled eggs that can be consumed raw or slightly cooked. But eating turtle eggs is not common.
But just because they are edible does not mean you should eat them! The eggs can be unhealthy for you depending on where they are laid. It can contain bacteria and insects that may cause health problems. Besides, you may not like the taste of turtle eggs, as it is far different from chicken eggs that people are used to eating.
By now, you must have learned all about taking care of red-eared slider eggs and hatching them. As you can see, you must take good care of your female slider so that it can lay fertile eggs.
After that, you can follow the instructions provided in this article to hatch the eggs. Hatching red-eared slider eggs require lots of patience as they can take a long time to hatch. But with a little bit of extra care, you can extend the family of your adorable red-eared sliders.