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General Tips

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If you didn't plan ahead, you should do so now. After acquiring your first or an additional turtle, there are a few things that require your immediate attention. A visit to a herp vet should be on the top of that list for a general check-up and a test for possible parasites or worms. Sellers and pet stores usually do not keep them in the optimal environments that they should be in. Examinations should also thoroughly check for injuries, infections, malnutrition and salmonella. It may be necessary to bring a fresh fecal sample for testing. Doing this allows you the opportunity to research for a qualified vet in your area. If the new addition will have tank mates, it would be a good idea to quarantine the turtle for 3 months before they are introduced. A hatchling should never be added with adult turtles because of accidental or intentional injuries. Only turtles of a generally similar size with similar habitat requirements should be together in a confined enclosure.

Having the appropriate habitat and a variety of commercial and live foods will help your new addition make an easier transition. If this is a captive turtle to begin with, then the transition should be much quicker and your RES will be better adjusted. It might take a few days for a new turtle to adjust and become familiar with its surroundings. During this time, your RES might not be very active or too active, bask, or interact with you and could easily be startled. It is best to leave the turtle alone but regularly provide food and check to see your RES is not sick. Additionally, water temperatures should be 75-78F (24-25.5C) basking temperatures should be 90F (32.2C). Please refer to the New RES Guide and pricing guide for other necessary information. Remember, most illnesses and injuries are preventable with proper living conditions.


Great care should be taken when handling RES. They may be slippery due to their aquatic habitat, resist being held, vocally hiss and empty their bowels. They have sharp claws, strong limbs and a strong bite that can add difficulty during handling. It is recommended that you apply both hands when picking up, moving and holding a slider. Support them beneath their arms, legs and body to provide a more secure and comfortable feeling. The rapid moving of limbs in the air is an indication of stress and should be minimized. Using both hands also provides extra assurance against accidents and falls.

Hands should be clean before handling and washed after handling RES and their environment. This is especially important for children, the sick and for those who handle food or other pets. A liquid soap dispenser is fairly convenient for this purpose. Areas that come into contact with your RES should be kept clean and sanitized. Keeping your turtle environment and feeding material in the best possible condition goes a long way in the minimization of bacteria and salmonella contamination.
Comment: Any pet should be absolutely restricted from a kitchen or any food preparation area. Avoid using the kitchen sink when cleaning your RES and its items. I would also refrain from using a bathtub or bathroom sink. If you do utilize these areas, make certain they are properly disinfected and sanitized after use.
Anyone who might handle your turtle should be notified of the proper ways to do so. Improper handling can cause distress, which may cause the turtle to release salmonella. It is not recommended for children to handle or take care of turtles. Turtles are not necessarily a “hold and pet” kind of animal and it is important that children understand that. They should always be supervised when around the turtle and they can be taught a great lesson in responsibility.

Related Topics: Salmonella (and other health risks to you)

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