Why Do Red Eared Sliders Climb On Each Other?

Why Do Red Eared Sliders Climb On Each Other

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

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If you own a red eared slider or observed one closely you may have noticed a habit of theirs. They tend to climb on each other from time to time.

Why do red eared sliders climb on each other? Red eared sliders can show this behavior for many reasons. Some of the common ones are to get more UV rays while basking, showing dominance or to appear strong. This is a completely natural behavior.

Red eared sliders climb on each other in the tank and you may think of it as something unusual. But that’s not the case. It’s normal for turtles to climb on each other if it shares its inhabitant with others. They, with their small steps get on top of another turtle and kind of tilt their heads upward. Why do they do this?

There might be different reasons for it. Certain situations or conditions can cause a turtle to get on top of others. You don’t need to worry about it as it’s a natural habit. But watch out if anything detrimental happens. Now let’s find out the reasons red eared sliders practice this habit.

Why Do Red Eared Sliders Climb On Each Other?

Red eared sliders are naturally very social animals. They interact with each other as well as with humans. Their social behavior is what makes them cooler.

If the red eared slider lives with others of their same species then certain unique (unique among them) traits are noticeable. One such characteristic is they pile on each other. But why do red eared sliders climb on each other?

Well, there can be certain reasons for it. It can either be for the benefit of the turtle or for showing dominance on the weak. Whatever it may be, you need to know that it’s completely natural and normal. But you have to take steps if you notice any trait of problematic behavior among them.

The turtles can pile on each other for various reasons. Not all the reasons are for their betterment, not all the causes are detrimental.

Let’s get into a bit details:

Red Eared Sliders Do This For UV Ray

A basic answer to the question of why do red eared sliders climb on each other is that they pile on each other to be exposed to more sun rays. The goal is to receive as much UV rays and heat as they can. Small basking area and low powered UV light can cause them to crave more.

UV rays help turtle with their metabolism. It’s essential for their health. It is one of the main reasons why red eared sliders bask. Another reason for basking is the heat. The heat keeps their shell strong and maintains good physical structure.

In order to get more UV rays and the heat, they need to be exposed to more sunlight. Piling on top of others allows them to do this. It is the easiest thing an able turtle can do to be ahead in the race of survival.

They Do This To Appear Strong

It is documented that in nature red eared sliders climb on top of others and they pile up with the strongest one on top. They do this in case there is a predator around.

The reason can be the fact that the sliders want to present themselves as strong so as to scare off the predator and save themselves. It’s a good tactic after all.

It mostly happens in the wild where they are exposed to open nature. It can also happen in your tank if the turtles feel threatened by something.

They Do This To Dominate The Weak

If you notice a pile formed by the red eared sliders, you will see that the turtle on the top is usually the strongest one in the tank. What does it mean?

It can indicate to bully. The stronger turtle can dominate the comparably weaker turtles of the herd. They can do it to show supremacy or to enjoy more facilities than others. The want for more UV light and heat, craving for more attention can be the reason for this.

This kind of bullying can cause damage to the turtle only if the dominating red eared slider is being vulgar or isn’t allowing other turtles to bask. If either of this happens you have to take steps as it can cause damage to the dominated red eared slider.

What Can You Do When Your Red Eared Sliders Keep Piling Up

If your red eared slider climbs on each other you don’t need to worry. But if it causes damage to your turtle then you have to take some actions. By damage, it is meant that if they engage in fighting or the dominated turtle is being deprived of its needs. Other than that you have nothing to worry about.

A paper published in the Journal of Mechanics and Materials and structures determined that it would take a lot of weight to crack a turtle shell. So it will require a lot of turtles to stack upon one another to cause any damage. It’s not physically possible so you don’t have to worry about it.

Apart from these problems, there is not any harm in red eared sliders climbing on top of each other. It’s a natural habit of theirs. But even if this problem occurs you can take simple steps to prevent this from happening.

If the turtles are getting on top of one another then place them in different places if possible. If not try to keep them separated as long as you can.

But if you see your turtle to be deprived of UV light, what you can do is place a bigger basking platform to allow every turtle to bask individually. Make sure the basking platform is well heated. The basking lights may not emit enough UV light for the turtle.

If your basking area is small and if your tank holds one or two turtles then a 50 to 70 watt bulb is enough. But in case you have a bigger basking platform for your red eared slider then the basking light has to be at least 100 watt. By doing this you will be able to solve the problem of unequal distribution of UV rays and heat.


If you were worried about why do red eared sliders climb on each other, you are probably a bit relaxed by now. If not then let me assure you that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. It’s a completely natural phenomenon.

But if you are still concerned with your red eared slider climbing on each other and don’t want to see your favorite turtle hidden by another one then use the above-mentioned points. It will certainly help you to have your loving turtle the way you want.



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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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