How Long Do Red Eared Sliders Live (Average & Maximum)

The Red Eared Slider is the most popular pet turtle in the United States, and one of the most popular pets across the whole globe. These small, semi-aquatic turtles are very easy to love, but they are not that easy to care for. 

Despite their small size, these turtles can require a lot of living space, and will need a large tank as they grow, along with a lot of constant care and attention. Unlike other pets, red eared sliders can live a very long time, so having one of these turtles in your home is pretty much a lifelong commitment, and not one to be taken lightly. 

So, how long do red eared sliders normally live? Our guide will tell you everything there is to know about red eared slider lifespans. But first, let’s take a closer look at the red eared slider to find out what kind of life it needs to survive. 

What is a red eared slider?

Red eared sliders are small turtles with distinctive yellow and green markings, along with their famous red patches behind the eyes, hence the name: red eared sliders. These turtles can be rather sociable with their owners, and as a result, Red eared sliders are incredibly rewarding pets. 

These semi-aquatic turtles may be small at first, but they will grow to be mighty creatures. The Red eared slider is a small turtle that is native to the Southern United States and in Northern Mexico, but have since become an invasive species in many areas due to pet releases, and the fact that they can outcompete other native species.

Whilst many red eared sliders are bred for captivity, the majority can be friendly when used to their environment. However, they can become uncomfortable when handled improperly, and can then become stressed or aggressive when threatened.

If not taken care of properly, red eared sliders can become anxious, unwell or can even die prematurely. But, what is the normal lifespan of a red eared slider?

How long do red eared sliders live?

In their natural habitat, red eared sliders have been known to live from 30 up to 70 years. For the most part, many different types of turtles and tortoises are expected to live for very long times in the perfect environment.

The red eared slider is a very common pet turtle, and its lifespan lives up to expectations, spanning on average from 20-30 years! 

However, some red eared sliders have been recorded to live as long as 70 years in the wild, whereas red eared sliders kept in captivity tend to have much shorter life spans. This is largely down to improper care, the wrong environment or uncomfortable living conditions. 

In captivity, some red eared sliders can also be prone to illnesses and infections that could also shorten their natural lifespan.

They will need strict nutrition, proper exercise, the right habitat, enough space, lighting and the perfect temperature in order to thrive in captivity. Without all of these factors, your red eared sliders will not be able to live as long as its relations in the wild.

What is the oldest red eared slider?

In 2016, an online news article reported a red eared slider turtle called Moses had gone missing, that a Maryland couple had kept in captivity for more than 78 years.

This red eared slider was given to Maryland resident Gloria Todd when she was only a 5 year old girl, and has since gone on to become her closest companion for the last few decades. You can see the full article here.

Whilst red eared sliders can live very long lifespans, over 70 years old in captivity is almost unheard of, as most sliders kept in captivity only live about 20-30 years if they are lucky, and well cared for! 

What causes red eared sliders to die?

Most pet red eared sliders will face a premature death due to improper breeding, or improper care in captivity. These turtles can be rather fragile in terms of their health, as they do not adapt well to unknown or unfamiliar habitats.

Many die from nutritional disorders, diseases and stress, or can become unwell and die due to lack of water or an environment that is too small and overcrowded for them.

To keep your slider in good health, and to help it live a long, happy life, it will need proper exercise and space to move. Your red eared slider needs access to both land and water where it can move around freely. This will give it proper physical and mental stimulation for its health and wellbeing. 

In addition, it will need a combination of turtle food and leafy greens to keep it fully nutritioned, along with a few treats such as fruits, vegetables and proteins like fish and shrimp. Young sliders should be fed every day, whereas adult sliders only need feeding every 2-3 days.

You should also keep in mind that sliders can grow up to 13 inches long, so they will need a large tank to move around and live in. For just one adult red eared slider, you would need at least a 50 gallon tank to keep it healthy.  You also need a minimum water depth of 10-30 inches, and space for both land and water. 

Red eared sliders also need the water temperature to be about 75-80 degrees fahrenheit, and clean at all times. The overall habitat also has to be kept between 85-95 degrees fahrenheit, with UVA and UVB lights to prevent fatal, degenerative shell diseases. 

As you can see, red eared sliders need a lot of extensive and proper care in order to live long, full and happy lives. Without the right environment, nutrition and care, red eared sliders will not reach their long lifespan of up to 70 years, but will most likely survive to about 20 or 30 if cared well for in captivity. 

Do red eared sliders live longer in captivity?

Unfortunately no, red eared sliders tend to die sooner when in captivity rather than in their natural habitat. This is often due to improper care and attention, where the wrong living conditions can majorly impact their health and wellbeing. Most pet red eared sliders will live to about 20 years old, whereas wild red eared sliders can live past 70 years old.