SMALL WON­DER

Boast­ing a long life­span, the Red-Eared Slider be­came a pop­u­lar pet be­cause of a tele­vi­sion show.

Pets (Singapore) - - Contents - By Christiann Priyanka

Red-Eared Slider

iden­ti­fi­able by the red stripes near its ears and the ten­dency to slide into wa­ter when star­tled, the Red-Eared Slider is one of the most pop­u­lar pets in the world. The Red-Eared Slider is a semi-aquatic tur­tle that orig­i­nated from South­east­ern United States and Mex­ico. In the early 1900s, these ter­rap­ins were cap­tured in the wild for sale. Its small size and af­ford­able price made it a pop­u­lar pet. By the 1950s, mil­lions of Red-Eared Slid­ers were be­ing farmed and shipped in­ter­na­tion­ally as part of the pet trade. They were par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar in the 1980s when the TV show Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles be­came a hit.

These tur­tles are in­quis­i­tive and per­son­able and will swim up to you to beg for food. How­ever, it is not rec­om­mended to han­dle them fre­quently as they will with­draw into their shells or even nip at your fin­gers if they feel threat­ened. RedEared Slid­ers are highly adapt­able to new en­vi­ron­ments, mak­ing them one of the most in­va­sive an­i­mal species in the world.

Red-Eared Slid­ers pre­fer ar­eas of still, warm wa­ter. In the wild, they can be found in calm wa­ters such as ponds, marshes, lakes with soft bot­toms and dense veg­e­ta­tion. They are de­pen­dent on the tem­per­a­ture of their en­vi­ron­ment for sur­vival. There­fore, when keep­ing a Red-

Eared Slider, it is im­por­tant to rear them in a tank with wa­ter that is 24 to 27 de­grees Cel­sius. Tanks should also have a heating lamp and a plat­form for them to bask on.

De­spite be­ing tiny when young, these rep­tiles can grow to over 30cm in size. Since Red-Eared Slid­ers are semi-aquatic, the tanks they are kept in have to be big enough for them to swim, as well as bask and dry off. The tank should be a min­i­mum of 76 litres. It is fine to use reg­u­lar tap wa­ter for the tank.

These ter­rap­ins are gen­er­ally healthy, but can suf­fer from shell rot, res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions and eye in­fec­tions. They may also de­velop a build-up of al­gae on their shells, which can be scrubbed off with a tooth­brush. Their tanks can get es­pe­cially filthy as they ex­crete and eat in the same wa­ter. In­stall a wa­ter fil­ter to keep the tank clean.

Although Red-Eared Slid­ers are suit­able for chil­dren and are rel­a­tively easy to take care of, they live up to 30 years and re­quire long-term care. In Singapore, it is il­le­gal to re­lease them in the wild. Hence, be­fore get­ting a Red-Eared Slider, it is ad­vised to con­sider whether you can keep them through­out their en­tire life­span.

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