What Temperature Is Too Cold For Red Eared Sliders?

What Temperature Is Too Cold For Red Eared Sliders

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

As soon as the winter approaches, different questions pop up in the turtle owner’s head. For example, what temperature is too cold for the red eared slider? Or how to keep the turtle warm in the severe cold? Is hibernating a good option for the red eared slider? If you are looking for the answers, then you have come to the right place.

When the surrounding temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the cold becomes severe for the red eared slider. If the pet does not get any external heating source, its body metabolism will slow down, and it will almost become motionless.

In this article, I will discuss which temperature is unbearable to the red eared slider. Also, you will learn what happens to the turtle if you put it in a cold temperature. So read throughout the article, to get all these answers.

Too Cold Temperature for Red Eared Slides

Like most other reptiles, red eared sliders can not endure a cold temperature. Experts suggest maintaining a temperature of about 72 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit in the captivity. If the temperature drops by even a single degree, the habitat environment becomes cold for the red eared slider.

The ‘too cold temperature’ generally indicates the brumating temperature of the turtle. For the red eared slider, the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius. If the captive temperature falls, take the necessary steps to provide the required heat unless you want your red eared slider to brumate.

What Happens to A Red Eared Slider in Cold Temperature?

Red eared sliders are ectothermic species. It means the turtles can not maintain or regulate their body temperature. They are totally dependent on the external heating sources. For example, in the wild, the sun is the main source of heat for the red eared sliders.

When the temperature falls below their endurance level, the turtles go through some physical changes. Such as:

  • The red eared slider’s body metabolism will drop quickly.
  • It will stop eating even though it will not stop drinking water.
  • The pet will not even defecate.
  • The turtle’s heart rate and cardiac output will slow down eventually.

In simple words, the red eared sliders enter the brumation state during the cold temperature. Their metabolism and heart rate drops about 80% to minimize energy consumption. Hence, the turtles stay inactive throughout the winter.

Can Red Eared Sliders Survive in Too Cold Weather?

They surely do. Not only that, but the wild red eared sliders struggle and survive the freezing water every winter. The temperature in some regions can even go below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Though the species is not native to the western US, they have extended their ability to cope with the environment.

In captivity, the temperature should never be an issue. You can set up a water heater in the tank to regulate the water temperature. Even if you do not use any heater, the enclosure never gets too cold as it is outside.

So, yes, a red eared slider can survive both too cold water and weather.

Temperature Requirements for The Red Eared Sliders

As a responsible turtle owner, it is your responsibility to know the perfect temperature requirement of the red eared sliders. Without this knowledge, you can not provide the pet turtle with a suitable environment during the cold season.

Red eared sliders are semi aquatic species, and so they need both water and land areas. However, their temperature requirement for each space is different. Have a look at the following chart:

Air temperatureBasking temperatureWater temperature
Mid 70’s to 80’s degrees FahrenheitHigh 80’s to low 90’s degrees FahrenheitFor adults and sub adults: 72 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit  
For hatchlings and smaller juveniles: 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit

These temperatures are perfect for all seasons. You can set up a water heater to regulate the temperature. Even if the weather gets cold, you do not need to higher the tank temperature. For the basking area, provide the heat and UV lamps to keep the area warm.

If you are looking for a water heater, check this article to learn more about it. However, you can get the best basking light by clicking here.

Is Hibernating A Good Solution If It Gets Too Cold?

First of all, most people think red eared sliders hibernate, which is not correct. What the species do in the severe cold is actually called the brumation state. Even though both the methods are almost the same, there are several distinctive differences.

Unlike hibernation, the red eared sliders do not go on a deep sleep during the brumation state. The species minimize its heart and cardiac output rate to save energy. It helps them to survive for a long time without any food.

The red eared sliders go at the bottom of the pond if the temperature drops. They can stay low and inactive for 3 to 4 weeks. From time to time, they come out to drink water.

If the captive temperature falls below 70 degrees Fahrenheit or less, the pet will automatically start the brumation process. It will lay at the bottom of the tank and play dead. From time to time, your pet slider will come to the dock for basking and dive again.


The red eared sliders are the real survivors. They can endure rough weather and still find a way to get through it. The species can survive too cold temperature by entering into the brumate state. If you notice anything unusual during the winter, consult with a vet immediately. I hope this article was helpful to you.

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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