Do Red Eared Sliders Need To Be in Water All the Time

Do Red Eared Sliders Need To Be in Water All the Time?

I remember the time when I got my first pet. I wanted a dog, but I got a red-eared slider turtle. In hindsight, that wasn’t bad at all. 

But back then, I thought that turtles are boring pets to have. They hardly move, they don’t do things, and it is difficult to establish a connection with them.

However, I was wrong! I was wrong about many things. Turtles, indeed, are not dogs, or a pet that you can interact with, but they are incredible animals to keep. 

In time, I learn to appreciate these animals. In fact, you can say that now, they are my favorite type of pet. 

When I got my first baby red-eared slider turtle, I was constantly worried about everything. I wanted to be sure that I can provide the best possible living conditions for the turtle. 

One of my main concerns was: Do red-eared sliders need to be in the water all the time? 

This article is all about that topic. 

Do red eared sliders need to be in the water all the time? 

Red-eared sliders are aquatic turtles, or to be more precise semi-aquatic turtles. It means that they spend most of their lives both in the water and on the land. 

To answer the question above, no, they don’t need to be in the water all the time. 

However, they do need plenty of water in their tanks. Without it, they won’t survive. 

Unlike dogs, turtles don’t need walks and they don’t need you to get them outside. 

What do turtles need, it is a perfect set up environment, where they have a water area, as well as dry area. That way, you will give them the opportunity to decide when to be in the water, and when to be on land, based on their needs. 

A healthy red-eared slider turtle will spend the majority of its time in the water. 

Occasionally, they climb on the dry surface and bask under the lights. 

The water in the tank plays a big role in the red-eared slider turtle diet, as well. 

Red-eared sliders lack saliva, therefore they have difficulties swallowing the food. 

Water helps them to swallow easier, to stay hydrated, and to digest the food better. 

As you can see, aquatic turtles can’t survive without water. For how long, we will see in the next section. 

How long can a red-eared slider live without water? 

I wouldn’t experiment with letting my turtle without water for a prolonged time, especially if it’s a baby red-eared slider. 

In their early stages, any health-related problems will have a permanent effect on their growth rate. 

From my experience, a red eared slider turtle can survive without water for a week. 

Back then when I didn’t know anything about turtles, and I was just a kid, I had a small red-eared slider. That particular turtle had escaped, and I couldn’t find it for a whole week. 

In retrospect, the tank wasn’t made for turtles, so it was for her to escape. After a week searching, I found the turtle. The turtle was still alive, however, it was fairly dehydrated. While it didn’t die, and it has been living for many years, it never fulfilled its growth potential. 

That’s an isolated case, which means not every turtle will survive without water for a week. There are several factors that may prolong or shorten the time one turtle can survive without water. 

The humidity in the room, the overall health of the turtle, and the age of the turtle are the most important factors. 

How much water does a red-eared slider need?

We’ve seen that red-eared slider turtles need water in order to live. We’ve seen for how long they can survive without water. 

Now, we’ll see how much water they actually need. 

In general, people buy red eared sliders when they are in their early stages of life. 

As babies, red-eared sliders are small turtles, usually with sizes around 1 to 2 inches. 

Most people, unaware of species growth potential, assume that these turtles will stay small forever. So they set up a small tank with a little swimming area. 

But that’s not the case. At least, not when we are talking about red-eared sliders. 

These turtles can grow very big. Not fast, but in time they will outgrow their current tank. You need to take this fact into account when you are setting up your first red-eared slider tank. 

How much water they need will depend on the size of the tank. To better understand this, read our detailed article on that subject: Red-eared Slider Tank Size

In short, they need enough water so they can swim freely, but not too deep, so they can easily climb up on a dry area when they get tired. 

Final Thoughts 

Red-eared sliders are incredible pets to keep. Assuming that you provide them the optimal living conditions, they’ll live for a very long time. 

Red-eared sliders need an aquatic environment. They need a tank with plenty of water and land where they can bask under the lights. 

A healthy red-eared slider turtle is a hardy and strong animal. It can survive without food and water for a prolonged period. 

But we are not here to test the endurance of our pets. Make sure that your turtle always has plenty of clean water in its tank. 

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