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Tag Archives: keeping red-eared sliders

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Supplies for Red Eared Sliders and Similar Turtles

Slider ReleaseTempted to buy that tiny green turtle being offered for a mere dollar or two?  While Red-Eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) can make an interesting and responsive pets, their care is far more complicated (and expensive!) than most new owners expect.  In perhaps no other animal is the distinction between initial price and long term cost of care so great.  Furthermore, the care guidelines offered by many sellers are often overly-simplified and inaccurate.  Following is a list of everything you’ll need to provide a proper home for Red Eared Sliders and other species with similar lifestyles (i.e. Map, Painted and Side-Necked Turtles, Cooters), along with notes concerning each item.  An in-depth article about Slider care and natural history is posted here.

Do Not Buy Hatchlings!

Although newly-hatched Sliders are still offered for sale, usually at fairs, carnivals and street stalls, it is illegal to sell them (or any turtle less than 4 inches in length) in the USA, and has been since 1975.  The law was enacted by the Food and Drug Administration in response to Salmonella outbreaks linked to hatchlings. For further information on the Salmonella- turtle connection, please see this article.

Because Sliders grow much faster than most owners expect, turtle rescue organizations are swamped with unwanted pets.  Please consider adopting rather than purchasing a turtle; please post below if you need adoption assistance.  Read More »

May Red Eared Slider Hatchlings be Legally Bought and Sold?

Although Slider hatchlings (Trachemys scripta elegans) have been banned from the US pet trade by the Food and Drug Administration since 1975, the tiny green turtles are still regularly offered for sale in certain areas, creating confusion for aspiring turtle owners.

History of the Law

Red Eared Slider HatchlingUnder the law, turtles less than 4 inches in length may not be sold, regardless of the species.  The sale of larger turtles is regulated by state law (the 4 inch rule is a bit confusing, more on that in a future article).

Traditionally, turtles were considered prime carriers of Salmonella bacteria… the law was enacted in response to over ¼ million annual cases of Salmonellosis among turtle owners in the early 70’s.  Salmonellosis can cause meningitis and miscarriage, and may be fatal to children, the elderly and immune-compromised individuals.

“Safe Sliders” to Force Policy Change?

According to commercial turtle farmers, however, the situation has changed in the 30+ years since the ban went into effect.  Farmers claim they are now able to produce Salmonella-free hatchlings, and that effective pre-treatment before sale could be used as additional insurance.

In 2007 Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu introduced legislation seeking to legalize the sale of Salmonella-free Red Eared Slider hatchlings (Louisiana is home to an estimated 80 turtle farms).  Last month (April, 2010), the Louisiana District Court ruled that the FDA has not adequately addressed the issue, and directed that further consideration be given to legalizing the sale of small turtles.

So, the ban remains in effect for the time being, but the situation may change in the future.

What to Do?

You can contact the FDA (888-463-0332) regarding violations of the turtle sale rule.  If you own a hatchling, ask your local humane society for advice, but do not release it.  The Center for Disease Control provides safety guidelines for turtle owners.

It is important to keep in mind that the irresistible little turtles grow rapidly into large, active animals.  Proper care entails full-spectrum lighting, a heated, filtered aquarium (of 75-100 gallon capacity for adults) and a well-balanced diet.  Do not purchase sick turtles in hope of curing them, as this is a difficult prospect even for a veterinarian.  Rather, report the matter to your local humane society.

Learning More

Red Eared Slider laying eggRed Eared Sliders turn up in the unlikeliest of places…I’ve found them in sites ranging from the Bronx River to temple ponds in Japan; please see Typical and Atypical Slider Habitats for more info and photos.

Please check out this recent Mississippi Newspaper Article for a turtle farmer’s view.


Red eared Slider Hatchling image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Jf268
Red eared Slider Laying Egg image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Nephets

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