Red-Eared Slider Lifespan

Are you wondering how long your red-eared slider can live? The turtle’s lifespan depends on the level of care they get from their owners. Turtles that are well taken care of are likely to live longer than those that survive on their own.

On average, red-eared sliders can live about 10 to 20 years in the wild. Otherwise, when in captivity, a red-eared slider lives for more than 30 years. Factors such as the health of the baby turtle you buy, a healthy diet, and regular exercise influence the lifespan of your red-eared sliders. 

The environment within their tanks and a constant visit to your veterinarian can also improve the turtle’s lifespan. In this article, you will learn more about the lifespan of a red-eared turtle, factors that affect the turtle’s lifespan, how to determine your turtle’s age, and how to increase your turtle’s lifespan. Continue reading.

What’s the estimated lifespan of a red-eared slider

Red-Eared Slider Lifespan

The estimated lifespan of a red-eared slider ranges from 10-20 years for those in the wild. In captivity, their estimated lifespan is more than 30 years. However, some turtles in captivity can live up to 50 years, but that is rare. 

Ensure your vet regularly checks the turtle’s health to boost its lifespan because red-eared sliders with existing health conditions may have a shorter lifespan than healthy turtles.

How long will a red-eared slider live in the Wild Vs captivity?

Red-eared sliders in the wild have a short lifespan of about 20 years. They can live for a shorter period in the wild because they are vulnerable to predators like frogs and snakes.

On the hand, the red-eared turtle can live for over 30 years in captivity. Red-eared sliders in captivity get protection from their owners and are free from natural predators. 

Quality care is another reason red-eared sliders can live for over 30 years in captivity.  However, your red-eared turtle can only live for around three years under poor care.

How can you tell a Turtle’s Age?

Here are the two ways to tell your turtle’s age:

Knowing your turtle’s date of birth

Knowing your turtle’s birth date is the easiest and most accurate way to determine your turtle’s age. Make sure you are present at the time your turtle is born. That will help you keep the correct records of your turtles’ age.

Counting the ring

Turtles have rings on their carapace at the top of their shells. These rings grow in number as they age. Count how many rings your turtle has to determine its age. Divide the result by 2 since they grow two rings yearly.

This method will give you the approximate age of your turtle. For example, if your red-eared turtle has 20 rings, it should be approximately 8 years old. However, this method can be inaccurate sometimes since your red-eared turtle may have fewer or more rings than expected.

Reasons why red-eared slider Lifespans differ

Explain how each of the following affects their lifespan. Feel free to add more

1. Habitat

Consider buying your turtle a large tank to avoid changing its tanks as it grows in size. The recommended size is 50 gallons for one red-eared slider. 

Ensure that you clean your turtle’s tank regularly to promote its health.

Also, install a UV lighting system near your tank to give the turtle heat and vitamin D. Proper lighting improves calcium absorption in turtles, which is essential for a strong shell. Failure to provide adequate lighting can result in problems like soft shells, shell rot, and high mortality.

2. Nutrition/Diet

Another reason some red-eared sliders live longer than others is the quality of their diet. Red-eared sliders that eat food rich in Vitamin A, calcium, and protein are likely to have a longer lifespan than those without these essential vitamins and minerals. 

Feed your baby turtles enough protein since they require it for rapid growth. However, give adult turtles less protein in their diet. Too much protein for adult turtles can result in obesity and a reduced lifespan.

3. Diseases

Red-eared sliders with health issues have a shorter lifespan than healthy ones. Diseases such as abscesses, respiratory infections, shell rot, and vitamin A deficiency can reduce your turtle’s lifespan. If you fail to attend to your sick turtle, its health will worsen, and it may eventually die.

Ensure that your vet checks on your turtle regularly for these diseases. Treating shell rot and vitamin A deficiency will restore your red-eared slider’s health and lengthen its lifespan.

4. Exercise 

Turtles exercise by swimming. Regular exercise improves the general health of the turtle. Ensure you provide your turtle with a large tank so it can glide easily.

Red-eared sliders that lack exercise become dull and gloomy. They can also gain weight, resulting in obesity. Therefore, ensure your turtles exercise adequately to boost their lifespan.

How to increase your Red-eared slider lifespan?

Below are some ways to increase your red-eared slider lifespan:

Healthy diet

Your turtle’s lifespan depends primarily on the quality of food you give it. To increase your red-eared slider’s lifespan, give it vegetables, pellets, and drained sardines. 

You can also add some fruits like apples and bananas to their food as a treat. These fruits are rich in essential vitamins for your turtle’s immunity and healthy growth. 

Remember to feed your baby slider daily because it needs more energy for its high metabolism. But feed the adults 2-3 times weekly.

Buy a healthy baby turtle

Another way of increasing your turtle’s lifespan is by buying a healthy baby red-eared slider.

Here are some tips for choosing a healthy baby turtle:

  • Choose the best breeder to ensure that your baby turtle is healthy. 
  • Remember to check for any signs of ill health in the turtle, such as eye problems and lethargy.
  • Check the conditions of its shell to ascertain any disease.

However, buying a healthy baby turtle is not a guarantee of a long lifespan unless you give it quality care.

Proper filtration system

Your red-eared slider poops more than you can imagine. The turtle’s poop mixes with water, and food remains to create a real mess in the tank. 

Install a proper filtration system to separate the turtle’s mess from the water. Doing so will help reduce the frequency of cleaning your turtle’s tank.

You can also use biological, mechanical, or chemical filtration systems. A proper filtration system provides a clean environment for your turtle, thereby promoting its lifespan.

Large tanks

Swimming makes your turtle active and healthy. Provide your turtle with a large-sized tank of 50 gallons or more to give them enough space for swimming. 

A large tank will also reduce the rate of turtle waste accumulation.


Place a rock in the tank for the turtle to climb as a form of exercise. You can also place its food in every corner of the tank. By doing so, the turtle will swim all over to access the food. Another way of exercising your turtle is to allow it to crawl slowly in your backyard.

Proper care for your turtle is the secret to increasing its lifespan. Give your red-eared slider a healthy diet, the right amount of temperature and lighting, sufficient space, and regular exercise.

What is the oldest Red-eared slider to ever live

The oldest red-eared slider to ever live is known as Magoo. In August 2021, Magoo turned 65. It is a female red-eared turtle bought in August 1956 by Marie Valpey in Porterville. 

Magoo lived this long due to regular exercise and a healthy diet. Her nutrition consisted of cat food, and her favorite meal was Friskies Ocean Fish Flavor


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