If you have a red-eared slider at home or are thinking of becoming an owner of one, it helps to know the ins and outs of caring for them. One important factor that an owner of a red-eared slider needs to know is how often they eat, and how long they can go for without eating.
You should never leave your red-eared slider without food for too long, but they are quite resilient and don’t need to be fed as often as some other pets.
How long can red-eared sliders go without food? In the right conditions, red-eared sliders can survive for several weeks and even a few months without food. This will depend on certain factors, such as their age, their availability to clean water, their health, and more.
However, it is never recommended to leave your sliders without food, as this is not only detrimental to their health but extremely uncomfortable and painful for the turtle.
Keep reading to find out more on how long red-eared sliders can go without food for and everything else you need to know on the topic!
How Often Do Red-Eared Sliders Need To Eat?
Healthy adult red-eared sliders can go without eating for several weeks up to a few months. This is especially true if the red-eared slider was well fed before and if they were in good health.
It is important to remember that this is specific to adult red-eared sliders, and not juvenile red-eared sliders. Baby red-eared sliders can only go without food for a few days to a week. It is not a good idea to leave baby red-eared slider without food for more than a few days, as it could severely impact their health and growth.
Factors That Affect How Long A Red-Eared Slider Can Survive Without Eating
There are some certain factors that determine how long a red-eared slider can survive without food for, and it is not one amount of time set in stone. Not all turtles are the same, and their health, age, and other factors will determine their eating habits.
These are some of the factors that affect how long they can go without food for:
A red-eared slider will be able to survive without food for some time, as long as they have access to clean water. Water is vital to a red-eared turtle’s survival, and having access to clean water allows them to go without food for longer.
In fact, aquatic turtles cannot eat without water, so they go hand in hand. They will suffer from dehydration much quicker than they will suffer without food.
The health of the red-eared slider is also a big factor in how long they can survive without food. Red-eared sliders that are in poor health will not be able to survive too long without food and will need regular care.
Healthy adult red-eared sliders would be able to go for longer without food, but they should still be fed on a good routine.
Adult red-eared turtles who were fed well will also last for longer without food, and who have not experienced long stretches without food recently.
Age Of The Red-Eared Slider
Baby or juvenile red-eared sliders would not be able to last more than a week or so without food, whereas older red-eared sliders will be able to last a month or two.
A well-fed adult will be able to live without food for up to two months, three at an absolute stretch, but that really is not advised. The age of the red-eared slider has a huge determining factor in how long they can survive without food.
Temperature In Their Tank
The temperature in the tank will also determine how long they can last without food, as they would either need more or less energy to regulate their body temperature.
Tanks and enclosures which have external heat sources help the red-eared slider achieve an optimal body temperature; this means less fluctuation of temperature. In the wild, metabolic activities slow down in colder months, but this is not true in those kept in captivity.
As this means that red-eared sliders in captivity have a quicker metabolism most of the time, and don’t slow down for the colder months, they will not last as long without food as those in the wild might.
Is It Good For Red-eared Sliders To Have Extended Breaks Between Feeding?
Just because red-eared sliders can survive for up to 3 months without food, does not mean that you should leave them without food for such a long time. It is not healthy for them to have extended breaks between feeding, as they would be missing out on essential nutrients and vitamins.
Baby red-eared sliders should be fed daily, or at least every second day. As they are growing, they will have a healthy appetite and need to feed often.
Adult red-eared sliders can be offered a healthy portion of food every second or third day. You can stretch this out a few more days, but there is no reason to keep food away from your red-eared slider if there are no health concerns.
What Can I Feed A Red-eared Slider?
Red-eared sliders have varying diets according to their age. Younger red-eared sliders need more protein in their diet than older turtles, and this can be given through both plant and animal sources.
There are commercial turtle pellets that can be fed to a red-eared slider, but it is a good idea to include other sources of food into their diet, and not to depend on the pellets alone.
Your red-eared slider will also enjoy a varied diet, and it will keep them interested in eating their food. For this reason, the pellets should only make up around 20-30% of their total food intake.
To add in with the pellets, you can include crickets, mealworms, silkworms, earthworms, bloodworms, aquatic snails, waxworms, shrimp, daphnia, and krill. All of these are great sources of protein. Your turtle will enjoy being fed live prey, as it replicates the experience they would have had in the wild, and it gives them some exercise.
When it comes to the vegetables and greens you can feed your red-eared slider, there are many options. Opt for collard greens, kale, bok choy, mustard greens, and dandelion greens, which are great for added nutrients and vitamins.
You could even add aquatic plants into their tank for them to nibble on, such as water hyacinth, frog-bit, water lettuce, and anacharis. Vegetables you can feed them include green beans, carrots, and squash. Make sure to chop these up small enough, especially for juveniles, so they are easy to eat.
The phosphorus to calcium ratio is also important and needs to be at a ratio of 2 calcium to 1 part phosphorus. You might have to add this into their diet through supplements.
Can A Red-Eared Slider Become Dehydrated?
Red-eared sliders depend on water to survive and can go without food for longer than they can survive without water.
It is always important to know what to look for if you think your red-eared slider might be dehydrated, as this could be fatal for them.
One of the most obvious signs that your red-eared slider is dehydrated is that their eyes are sunken or closed, and their corneas are dimpled. If you notice this, you should consult a vet straight away.
Your turtle might also lose a lot of its water weight, and feel much lighter when you pick them up. They will also be lethargic and fatigued. Their usual reactions, such as retracting their leg quickly if you pull on it, will be slower.
Dehydration is a serious condition in turtles, which is why it is so important to ensure they always have access to clean water.
How Long Can Red-Eared Sliders Go Without Food?
Healthy adult red-eared sliders can go without food for a few weeks up to two or three months at most. This is not something you should test out, as keeping them away from food for an extended period can be dangerous to their health, especially turtles kept in captivity who don’t experience a slowed-down metabolism in the winter.
Young red-eared sliders should be fed regularly, and might not survive without food for a week. Consult a vet or a professional for a healthy eating schedule for your red-eared slider, and provide them with a balanced diet to give them all they need to thrive.
Do red-eared sliders need to eat every day?
How often a red-eared slider needs to eat depends on its age and size. Smaller and younger turtles will need to eat well every day to be healthy and survive, whereas adults can be fed every 2-3 days.
Do red-eared sliders need to bask?
Red-eared sliders do need to bask to absorb UV rays from the sun or artificial light and to regulate their body temperature.
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