In general, taking care of a baby red-eared slider is not radically different from taking care of an adult. The biggest difference is feeding frequency. Everything else, such as your aquarium size, basking spot setup and lighting doesn’t need to change.
That being said, a great deal of your success in raising a baby red-eared slider comes BEFORE you even bring it home.
Red-eared sliders are tough animals that are able to live, and even thrive, in dirty, unclean environments in the wild. However, before you commit to purchasing and taking on a baby slider, you need to make sure it is healthy first.
Otherwise, your turtle will likely cost you a few expensive trips to the vet.
Before we get into the basics, I hope you enjoy the cute pictures of Red-Eared Slider babies below.
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Red-Eared Slider Baby
As you can see from the photos below, a red-eared slider baby usually has a very green pigment on both their shell and skin. They also have the famous red line that starts on the back of their ears and continues down their body.
A lot of people simply assume that, since their turtle is a baby, they can simply forego some of these things and deal with them later. Don’t do this! In fact, it should be the opposite, the sooner you take care of your turtle’s needs, the less concern and worry you should have!
Let’s talk about tanks for a moment. The most important rule here is to get the biggest you can get. Bigger is always better!
Now, if you want to be exact about it, there is a very simple rule:
For every inch of turtle shell, you should provide 10 gallons of water.
Note; you don’t need to follow this guideline precisely. If you are off by a little, it’s not going to make a huge difference. From personal experience, I can tell you that a 55-gallon tank is going to be sufficient for a fully-grown RES.
That being said, bigger is still always better. The key point here is to NOT keep your slider in something really small. That’s just misery for an aquatic turtle like a red-eared slider.
Baby Red-Eared Slider Heat & Light Requirements
I have written a general guide on UVB lights for turtles where you can find more information, but here are a few quick guidelines:You should steer clear of any UV lights with less than 5-10% UV-B output, as it won’t be strong enough.For your heat source, measure the basking area and put the heating lamp as far away or close to ensure the basking area is between 85 to 90 degrees.
For water heaters, I wrote up a quick go-to guide. Essentially, the gist of it is is that there are several types of water heaters, but the one you want (in all likelihood) will be a submersible water heat. They are inexpensive and work well.
For the basking area, I am a really big fan of the Turtle Topper. It’s a little bit more pricey than simply custom building your own dock (which I have done), but I simply love how it sits on the tank. It also gives your turtle a ton of extra room.
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The downside to the Turtle Topper is that it won’t be big enough to fit more than 2 full-grown red-eared sliders. One or two can bask inside it easily but after that, it gets way too cramped.
Red-eared Slider Hatchling
A red-eared slider usually incubates in an egg for 2 to 3 months before it hatches. In the wild, the mother red-eared slider will usually abandon the hatchlings before they are born. This means that the baby red-eared slider hatchling must rely on natural instincts to survive. Below is a picture of a red-eared slider hatchling.