Red-eared slider turtles are popular pond pets throughout the country. Their small size, friendly, passive disposition and mostly vegetarian diet as adults make them ideal for fish ponds in many climates. If you're considering bringing home a red-eared slider, knowing how much and how quickly they grow may be one of your concerns. Although red-eared sliders can live for 20 to 50 years, they do not grow their entire lives, but they can reach sizes of close to 12 inches.
Hatching to Breeding Sizes
Red-eared sliders hatch from eggs like most reptiles. At hatching, these turtles are approximately 1.25 inches long and under ideal conditions can reach breeding size in two to four years, but more commonly this growth will take three to five years in males and five to seven years in females. By breeding age, a size difference will be apparent.
Males are smaller. Their carapace or shell will measure about 4 inches in length. Their size is a better indicator of their readiness to breed than their age. In females, however, size is secondary to age in determining sexual maturity. When female red-eared sliders are ready to reproduce, they may be anywhere from 6 to 7.5 inches long.
Red-eared sliders grow at a linear rate. They should grow by the same amount every year until they reach their full-grown size. In males, this is between 9.8 and 11.8 inches in females and 7.9 to 9.8 inches in males. These turtles should grow, on average, 1.2 inches per year. Males will begin to reach their full-grown size around 6 years old, while females will keep growing until about 8.
Keeping track of your turtle's growth rate can be both fun and instructive for young turtle owners.
- Knowing that females grow larger than 9.8 inches and males not greater than that, you can use the 9.8 inch mark to determine sex in a full grown red-eared slider turtle.