Why My Red Eared Slider Is Not Eating? [6 Reasons]

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

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Aren’t turtles awesome as pets? I have a pet red eared slider. But after a year I realized my turtle has suddenly lost its appetite. I wondered why my Red Eared Slider is not eating like before. So after properly following some steps regarding maintenance of my turtle, it got back its lost appetite. This article will be focusing on my entire journey with this problem.

So, why does a red eared slider stop eating? It can be due to many reasons.

Red eared sliders might refuse to eat due to non-optimum temperature in the tank, dirty water, unhealthy diet, any type of sickness, overfeeding, respiratory infection etc. It is important to address these issues promptly and consult with a veterinarian if necessary. 

Why My Red Eared Slider Is Not Eating?

I am not among the ones who just become curious about something and eventually forget it all. Or simply neglect things. I try to go to the absolute depth of a problem. So, I talked with the people who had Red Eared Slider before, researched all the articles on the internet and also consulted about this problem with a veterinarian.

From all these experiences of mine, I got some prominent insights on this issue. I am going to mention all this here. I hope it helps someone who is facing a situation like this with his pet and get some real-life insights out of my experience.

These are the probable reasons behind why my red eared slider is not eating:

1. The Temperature in the Tank

For a Red Eared Slider, a perfect temperature in the tank is essential for staying healthy. Among the so many reasons, this could be another one why my Red Eared Slider is not eating. Turtles will not eat if the tank’s temperature is dropping below 50 degrees.

It happens as when the temperature of the tank water drops below this certain level, it hampers the turtle’s metabolism rate. As a result, the Red Eared Slider loses his appetite. This is why it is really important to keep checking on the temperature of the turtle’s environment.

It is also seen that the Red Eared Slider shows reluctance to eat during wintertime if the outside room temperature is not convenient for them. So the place where they will live has to be very warm and comfortable.

2. Clean Water

The water of the tank has to be kept clean all the time. Even if you change the water regularly, the water might not be convenient for the turtles. It happens because of the elements it comes with. So it is always a good idea to install a good filter inside your tank for cleaning out all the impurities of the water.

Though Red Eared Slider is a messy living being, they can have a healthy life-span in a cleaner environment. They drink the water where they live. So keep your Red Eared Slider’s tank water clean and hygienic.

3. Food Diet

Food diet can be a good reason behind why the turtle has lost its appetite. If you are providing the same food to your turtle repetitively, then it is quite natural that they will lose interest in eating. You have to keep changing their diet after some time.

Seeing foods of different colors can make them interested to eat again. Like veggies and fruits like tomatoes, papaya, watermelon, banana, mango, strawberries and other fruits of these sorts. Fruits are not their main food but it can definitely help the turtle to start eating again.

Living foods like cricket, waxworms, earthworms, snails and other small living creatures are the favorite food of the Red Eared Slider. So giving this food can bring back their appetite once in a while.

4. Internal Health Issue

While all the other factors remaining fine, still your Red Eared Slider can get sick. Any irregular behavior of your turtle can indicate internal health issues. In such cases, your turtle needs to be taken to the veterinarian to have an overall examination. Make sure you choose a reptile veterinarian for that.

You should not procrastinate while doing so. Even if you can’t see that something is really going wrong with your turtle, internally it can have some severe issues to any organ or body system.

A certified veterinarian can identify those medical conditions sooner and get your Red Eared Slider treated in the best possible way.

5. Overfeeding

Sometimes it is quite possible that you are overfeeding your Red Eared Slider. Give food to your turtles once a day. Giving food more than that is not a good idea. By observing the eating quantity of your turtle, you can clearly understand their appetite.

You should look out how quickly they are eating all the food. After having a good amount of food and then wasting away some are okay. If this is the case you should not be bothered about it at all. It is also natural for the turtles not to eat much in the winter season.

6. Hibernation

Most of the turtles tend to go on hibernation during the winter season. It is a natural thing. Even a turtle getting everything available in his environment might go on hibernation during this time. If you check out all other points of the probable causes behind your turtle’s not eating, this could be the reason.

In such a situation, take your Red Eared Turtle to reptile veterinarian for being sure if your turtle is trying to go on hibernation.

After getting confirmation from the veterinarian, follow the instructions from him for your turtle during this time.

So these are some of the prominent reasons why your Red Eared Turtle may stop eating.

The Reason Behind My Red Eared Slider’s Reluctance to Eat

I identified all the reasons mentioned above and tried to understand what could go wrong. Then it didn’t take a lot of time for me to realize the main reason. Even though I was ensuring a perfect environment with suitable temperature, clean water, and all, I was giving the same food to my Red Eared Turtles for months!

This is the dominant reason why my Red Eared Slider lost appetite in the first place. How come I failed to understand that! Better late than never! I accepted this mistake and decided to rectify it. So I brought so many variations in the diet chart of my turtle.

At first, my Red Eared Slider started eating very slowly. I waited very patiently for sometimes. I kept on observing the amount of eating. With time I realized that the food quantity is increasing and my turtle is going back to normal. From then, I never gave the same sort of food to my turtle for a long time.

So far it is working really well and the turtle seems very healthy and playful like before.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Red Eared Slider Not Eating Pellets?

A Red Eared Slider may not be eating pellets due to a change in environment, unsuitable water temperature, dirty tank water, poor lighting, change in diet, feeding the same type of food daily, illness, overfeeding, or loss of interest. Try offering a variety of healthy foods and addressing any environmental or health issues

Why Is My Red Eared Slider Not Eating And Moving?

There could be several reasons why a red-eared slider is not eating and moving.

Illness, stress, fear, unstable basking areas, lack of grip, overfeeding, suboptimal temperature in the tank, dirty water, and unhealthy diets are some of the common reasons why red-eared sliders may not eat or move.

Pregnant turtles may stop eating and basking as they search for a suitable place to lay eggs. 

How Do You Force Feed A Red-Eared Slider?

Force-feeding a red-eared slider should only be done as a last resort, and it is best to seek the advice of a veterinarian before attempting it.

If the veterinarian approves, it is important to use the correct technique to avoid harming the turtle. The first step is to prepare the food by blending it into a smoothie-like consistency.

Then, gently open the turtle’s mouth and use a syringe or dropper to slowly and carefully administer the food into the turtle’s mouth. Be sure to administer small amounts of food at a time and allow the turtle to swallow before continuing.

It is important to avoid getting the food into the turtle’s lungs, which can cause aspiration pneumonia. After feeding, it is essential to keep the turtle hydrated by providing water or electrolyte solution.

Always remember, force-feeding should only be done under the guidance of a veterinarian, as it can be dangerous if not done correctly.

What If My Red-Eared Slider Hasn’t Eaten In Months?

If your red-eared slider hasn’t eaten in months, it is crucial to seek the advice of a veterinarian as soon as possible.

A lack of appetite for an extended period can be a sign of serious health issues, such as respiratory infections, parasites, or organ failure.

The veterinarian may perform a physical examination, run diagnostic tests, and provide treatment based on the underlying cause of the lack of appetite. In some cases, force-feeding may be necessary to prevent malnutrition.

Why Is My Red Eared Slider Not Eating In Winter?

Red-eared sliders are ectothermic animals, which means their body temperature is regulated by the surrounding environment. During winter, the water temperature may drop below the optimal range, causing the turtle’s metabolism to slow down, leading to a decrease in appetite.

Additionally, the turtle may become less active during winter due to the lower temperatures, which can also contribute to a decrease in appetite.

It is important to maintain the water temperature within the recommended range of 74ºF to 78ºF to ensure the turtle’s metabolism remains active. Providing a basking area with a heat lamp can also help to maintain a stable temperature and encourage the turtle to bask and eat.

It is also important to ensure the turtle is receiving a balanced diet and is not overfed, as overfeeding can lead to health issues such as obesity and fatty liver disease.

How Do I Get My Red Eared Slider To Eat?

If your red eared slider is not eating, there are a few things you can do to encourage it to eat.

The first step is to ensure that the turtle’s tank is clean, and the water quality is optimal. Red-eared sliders are sensitive to dirty water, and poor water quality can lead to health issues and a decrease in appetite.

Additionally, it is important to provide a balanced diet that includes both animal and plant materials. Young red-eared sliders eat more animal protein, while adults mostly eat aquatic plants, such as elodea, duckweed, water lettuce, and water ferns. Offering a variety of food can help to stimulate the turtle’s appetite.

It is also important to provide a basking area with a heat lamp to maintain the optimal temperature range of 74ºF to 78ºF and encourage the turtle to bask and eat. If the turtle is still not eating, you can try hand-feeding it by offering food directly to its mouth using tweezers or tongs.

However, it is important to avoid force-feeding unless under the guidance of a veterinarian.


If you are wondering like me why my Red Eared Slider is not eating, don’t just stop there. Try to figure it out as soon as you can. By simply identifying the cause behind this, you can win the half battle. The other half depends on how much you are trying to let go of the problem that caused your pet pain in the very first place.

Red Eared Slider is a surprisingly low maintenance pet that can provide you company for as long as 30 years. If you are being conscious about its health now it will be able to live up to its expected life-span.

So pay very close attention to everything that can make your turtle uncomfortable in any way and try to get rid of those.

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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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