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Cohabitation with Other Turtles

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It is possible you might find yourself in a situation where you have or want multiple turtles. They're certainly affordable, and it would probably only require a minimal amount of extra work, right? Provided enough room, two RES can get along, although they are more than fine alone. If your RES has been isolated from other turtles for most of its captivity, it may become too timid or excessively aggressive. In addition to ample space, you should make sure they are of similar size. A smaller turtle can easily be bullied or accidentally hurt. Injuries, fighting and other forms of aggression may arise. There could even be a greater risk of disease, illness and stress spreading in a confined habitat.

You will need to be prepared to have stronger filtration equipment and possibly a quarantine area. It is recommended that a new turtle be quarantined for 90 days before introduction to your other turtles. In the event that there is persistent aggression between your turtles, you will need to separate them and provide individual tanks or consider giving one of them up. It's not very cheap and easy anymore. If you are committed to a large outdoor pond, then you will have a better chance of creating a suitable environment for the inhabitants.
Note: There are other varieties of turtles that can coexist with RES provided there is a large enough habitat. The same potential problems exist with these turtles as well. You must be willing to accept the additional expense and care. The types most often mentioned in the compatible group are cooters, map turtles and painted turtles. Some painted turtles will be slightly smaller than RES, and some cooters can grow larger than RES. If different species are kept together, they must be of similar size and require a similar environment.
Related Topics: Locating a Veterinarian / New owner guide

Harassment, Fighting, Aggression and Territoriality

Confined in a tank or small pond, RES can exhibit a dominating behavior towards other tank mates. Turtles can easily injure one another with their bites. Males may endlessly pursue females. Competition in this limited area is not uncommon. Harassment can escalate to serious aggression such as fighting which can result in cuts, loss of limbs or even death. Adding a new turtle may immediately cause aggression and bullying, while some turtles harass more after they develop sexually. Males seem to be more likely to fight each other and harass females.

A significant increase in the size of an enclosure may help but is not guaranteed to reduce or stop these behaviors. Feeding them separately (with one kept outside the tank) may also help reduce aggression. Also, adding barriers, such as aquatic plants and caves may disrupt constant visual contact. It is important to remember that this may not be enough to remedy this negative behavior and separation should be considered. Limiting the number of turtles you keep is often an unplanned option. A physical barrier could also be considered, however that will significantly reduce the size of any tank. A light diffuser, also referred to as egg crate, can be used to make a barrier in your tank while allowing you to use the same heaters, lights and filtration equipment.

Also see health effects of this behavior in: Health > Aggression, biting, fighting

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This page updated: 2011/01/28 Copyright © 2005-2011 Red Ear Slider. All rights reserved.