How to Breed Red Ear Sliders

By Louise Lawson

Red Ear Sliders are a moderately sized, docile species of turtle, popular with reptile enthusiasts as good starter pets for novice owners. Originally hailing from the southern regions of the United States, the Red Ear Slider now inhabits nearly every continent on Earth. Breeding Red Ear Sliders is a relatively easy process due to their gentle nature, and you can successfully raise a healthy clutch of eggs with just a little time and effort.

How to Breed Red Ear Sliders

Watch your turtles for signs that they are ready to mate. Mating typically occurs in the cooler months of the year, such as January and February, to give the babies the best chance of survival when they hatch in early summer. During the mating season, the smaller male turtles will often claw around the female's head and neck, tickling her to judge her receptiveness. She will show her willingness to mate by allowing him to nudge and mount her. If she is not receptive and becomes hostile, separate them to prevent injuries.

Prepare your mating tank once the female accepts the male's advances. Fill your 30-gallon tank with six inches of clear, room-temperature water. The water needs to be deep enough to allow the male to easily mount the female, but not so deep that she cannot breathe. Place the male and female in the tank and observe them quietly. Mating takes approximately 15 minutes, so give your turtles plenty of time to mate undisturbed.

Move the turtles back to their normal enclosures, keeping the male and female separate during gestation. She will carry the eggs for approximately 60 days. During the last two weeks of pregnancy, your female will spend much more time on land, digging and looking for a place to lay her eggs.

Set up the nesting tank and move your female to it as soon as you notice her nesting behavior. Fill one of your 20-gallon tanks with four or five inches of clean potting soil, making sure it is loosely packed into the bottom of the tank. Your female will dig her nest and lay anywhere between two and 20 eggs, lightly covering them with soil when she is finished. Clip your heat lamp to the tank and direct it onto the nest site, making sure to keep the nest at around 85 degrees Fahrenheit to give the eggs the best chance of survival. A simple aquarium thermometer placed next to the nest will help you monitor its temperature.

Observe the nest carefully for signs of hatching. Properly incubated Red Ear Slider eggs will hatch approximately 80 days after they are laid, so keep a close eye on them as the 80-day mark approaches. You will notice the soil begin to shift as the hatchlings cut the soft egg sac with a small, hard bump on their snouts known as the egg tooth. Stay quiet and do not disturb the eggs during hatching, as frightened babies will delay hatching and stay inside the nest if they feel threatened.

Place the hatchlings in the nursery tank as soon as they have all hatched. Fill one half of your remaining 20-gallon tank with soil, packing it down to make a solid land area for the babies. Fill the other half of the tank with just a couple inches of water to allow the hatchlings access to water but prevent them from downing in deep water. Clean the water at least three times a week to prevent illness and infection and keep your newly hatched Red Ear Sliders happy and healthy.