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Many people love having a Red-Eared Slider as a pet. However, as with any pet, proper care is vital to ensure the pet stays safe and healthy. Knowing how to properly take care of your Red-Eared Slider during the reproduction stage will help you become the best turtle mom/dad you can be!
Background on Red-Eared Sliders
Red-Eared Sliders are one of America’s most beloved pond turtles. Otherwise known as Red Eared Terrapins, these turtles are a member of the Emydidae family.
Red-Eared Sliders are semi-aquatic animals, so they need time in the water as well as land. Red-Eared Slides are the most common pet turtle in the United States of America. They are also popular across the rest of the world.
How Often Do Red-Eared Sliders Lay Eggs?
Red-Eared sliders are widespread across the globe because of their reproduction rate. Female turtles can lay anywhere from three to five clutches of eggs on an annual basis. The clutches typically occur 15 to 30 days apart.
In comparison to other turtle species, Red-Eared Sliders do not produce as many eggs. Other turtles can produce up to 1000 eggs every year. Red-Eared Sliders can produce a maximum of about 150 eggs every year. There are several reasons why this species of turtles can not produce as many eggs as other species can.
The Size of the Red-Eared Slider Affects How Many Eggs They Lay
Some Red-Eared Sliders are genetically smaller in size than others. Smaller turtles have less room in their body to carry eggs, so they lay fewer eggs than larger turtles. The amount of room a turtle has in its body affects both the number and quality of eggs. Larger-sized turtles can lay higher quality eggs than smaller Red-Eared Sliders.
When do Red-Eared Sliders Lay Eggs?
Female Red-Eared Sliders usually lay eggs from May through June. Days or weeks may pass from the time of fertilization to the time the female lays eggs.
The fertilization of the eggs happens during the egg-laying process. The male’s sperm can lay viable in the female all the way up until the next season. The female turtle might not have to look for a mate to lay eggs the following season.
During the end of gestation, the female turtle spends more time on land because she is searching for a proper place to lay her eggs.
During this time, drivers might see Red-Eared Sliders walking across highways more often searching for suitable land. Once the turtle finds a spot, she will dig a hole using her legs and lay her eggs.
The eggs usually incubate for about two to four months, but the baby turtles can rest for the duration of the winter if they do not hatch soon enough before the temperature gets cold.
Right before hatching, the egg includes 50% egg sac and 50% turtle. A baby turtle breaks open the egg using the egg tooth. After hatching, the hatchlings tend to stay inside the eggshell for the first few days.
When a hatchling leaves the shell, they still have the tiny yolk sac attached to their plastron. The sac is important for providing nourishment. After a few days, the sac absorbs in the turtle’s belly. The turtle must heal from this absorption process before they can swim in the water. The process of hatching to be able to swim is about 21 days for a Red-Eared Slider.
Cold weather can kill some babies before they can hatch. Only male turtles are born when the eggs are incubated in weather below 80 degrees.
How to Build a Nest for your Red-Eared Slider
Signs of Pregnancy in Your Female Turtle
There are various behavioral changes that female Red-Eared Sliders go through during pregnancy. She might start to act more aggressively towards other turtles or humans. This is a natural defense mechanism to protect her eggs from outside threats.
She might also act more restless and run around looking for a proper place to lay her eggs.
How to Help Your Red-Eared Slider During the Reproduction Stage
Turtles in the wild will naturally search for places to dig the hole and lay their eggs. If your pet turtle is in your backyard or garden, you just have to make sure she is safe from predators. She will naturally dig a hole when she feels secure.
However, if you own a Red-Eared Slider in a tank, there are certain measures you should take to make sure your turtle will reproduce healthily.
When you notice your female turtle’s behavior change, provide her with a laying nest or bucket. A large-sized painting bucket will work perfectly for this.
You will also want to buy some organic soil that will hold its shape, even when moist. The depth of the soil should measure twice as long as the turtle’s shell from the head to the tail. You should dampen your soil so that you can make tiny holes in it. Make sure you buy soil that does not have any pesticides in it. Avoid buying soil with perlite or vermiculite in it, too.
The turtle may eat it or it could stick to your turtle and contaminate the tank. You will also want to make sure the height of the soil is deep so that your turtle can not crawl out of it.
You will want to place your nest in a quiet place such as a closet. Make sure it is warm and loosely cover your bucket using a towel. Place your Red-Eared Slider in the bucket during even time and cover most of the bucket using the towel. You want the closet to be dark, but not pitch black.
After this, you should leave your turtle alone all night. The turtle does not want to be spied on during this time. When she is alone, she could dig a test hole lay and lay an egg. It often takes more than one night for the turtle to lay a single egg. You will want to check for any newly laid eggs every morning and remove them so they do not spoil.
Every morning, you should wash your turtle and place her back in her regular tank. Feed her like you normally would then place her back in the bucket every night until the process is complete.
Give your turtle enough time to completely lay all her eggs. The Red-Eared slider might even try to hide her eggs by peeing on them as an attempt to disguise them and protect them from “predators”. You can let your turtle spend her nights in her nesting box for about five days after she starts acting restless to make sure you give her enough time.
Dangers of Female Turtles Not Laying Their Eggs
If females do not like the place they have to lay their eggs in, they will try to hold their eggs inside their bodies. This can be dangerous for their health as retained eggs can start to rot and cause a life-threatening health condition. This is why it is so important to create a proper nest for your turtle to lay its eggs in.
Perks of Proper Care
Truly, you have taken on the responsibility to care for and love your adorable, Red-Eared Slider. With the proper guidance discussed above, you can make sure you welcome all of your female turtle’s babies properly and safely into your family.